Daylight Savings Open Thread

Some of the latest happening in Portland-area transportation and land use.

  • As mentioned last time, the Powell/Division Steering Committee further narrows down the project alignment next Wednesday.  The preferred alignment seems to be Tilikum to 12th to Powell to 82nd to Division to Hogan to Stark to Kane to MHCC.  Along this stretch, most of the route could support an exclusive ROW–the most important exception between Powell between 26th and Cesar Chavez.  (See here and especially here and here).
  • Speaking of Powell, ODOT is launching a safety project on the portion of Powell Boulevard east of I-205.
  • Some new information on the Southwest Corridor, including a few refined cost estimates for various options.   See here, here, and here.
  • Several bits of news from TriMet:  A proposed 2016 budget.  Bluetooth low-energy beacons at MAX stations to provide real-time arrival data.  Start of work on the new e-fare system, scheduled to come online in 2017.  And, as of the start of March, your transfer is now good for 2 1/2 hours.
  • The Oregon Legislature is considering expanding photo-radar to include fixed installations not overseen by an officer.  Currently, Oregon law permitting photo radar requires a sworn police officer be present, even though the system is entirely automatic and the cop just sits there and reads the newspaper.  :)
  • The Clackamas County Commission has approved over $9M in tax breaks for a developer looking to build near the New Hope church across the freeway from Clackamas Town Center.

38 responses to “Daylight Savings Open Thread”

  1. Just to clarify.

    By “could support an exclusive ROW”, that appears to mean “without demolishing buildings, grade separation, or taking lanes from cars”. That doesn’t mean that exclusive lanes will be built on those stretches–that may still require ROW acquisition, paving, and other things that cost money.

  2. Hooray for the Oregon Legislature! Even if they don’t actually pass it, that they are even considering unattended photo radar is a BIG step toward actual enforcement of HOV and exclusive transit lanes.

    • I sincerely hope that Oregon sticks to it’s guns and stops this blatant ploy to break the regional consensus on land use planning. If this bridge is built as planned the entire area between Legacy Hospital and La Center from the bluff over the river to 50th NE will be filled with SFH in fifteen years with all the energy waste and habitat destruction that will be baked into the economy for a 100 years that means.

      All so that the Republicans of Clark County can increase their stranglehold on Southwest Washington’s governance.

  3. A couple of observations after perusing the latest Southwest Corridor info:

    * Happy to see the South Portland Circulation & Connectivity and Ross Island Bridgehead projects as part of the package. Not only would this beef up the neighborhood’s street/sidewalk grid, but the new direct connections between 405 and Ross Island Bridge would siphon off much of the traffic congestion.

    * Not so happy to see the general lack of direct service to South Waterfront from all points southwest. In the past I’ve suggested a couple of frequent-service express bus lines that would supplement the main HCT line and serve corridors roughly parallel to Barbur (Capitol Hwy, Oleson Rd, etc.); at least of one of these could deviate from Barbur roughly somewhere between Slavin and Gibbs (possibly via a new overpass spanning I-5) and serve South Waterfront on the way downtown.

    * I’d like to see Southwest MAX serving Pill Hill via a big new underground station and all that, but…….. as much as I hate to be That Guy, I’d like to see more attention and resources paid to maintaining the current rail infrastructure – not to mention an expansion of the Steel Bridge bottleneck – before adding any new lines.

  4. Regarding the SW Corridor:

    – It looks like the earlier decision to include the “Short Tunnel” option (serving OHSU only) has been changed in favor of the longer OHSU/Hillsdale option. The report states that longer bored tunnels are more cost effective ($$/mile) presumably because there are fixed costs like equipment purchase and portal construction that are major expenditures regardless of how long the tunnel is.

    – If, for some reason, a surface option is selected through Lair Hill that bypasses OHSU, there is a second tunnel option (cut and cover) that follows mainly Capitol Hwy and Bertha that would also include a subway station in Hillsdale. Obviously, Hillsdale seems to be more of a priority now where it seemed not so much earlier in the process. In fact, this cut and cover tunnel is included as part of their “baseline” route, comparing the costs of this option to the OHSU/Hilldale option or the third Barbur only (all surface) option.

    – The Ross Island bridgehead improvements (mentioned above) would be included in the cost of the final HCT route only if the OHSU station is bypassed in favor of a surface route through South Portland. Otherwise it would be financed separately.

    – Also included in their “baseline” proposal is a cut and cover tunnel from 53rd and Barbur to Lesser Rd with a subway station on the north end of the PCC campus. Cut and cover tunnels are much cheaper to build than bored tunnels, so the additional cost to serve the campus directly appears to be justifiable.

    – Like dan w, I’m also concerned about the Steel Bridge bottleneck. It’s the biggest impediment to adding capacity to the MAX system. But it’s not going to be fixed unless the system grows (SW, Vancouver, etc.). Otherwise, why bother fixing it? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the SW MAX (assuming they don’t cop out with a watered down BRT) is the project that forces the bottleneck issue and the solution may even be incorporated into this project the way the Green line and the 5th/6th tracks were built concurrently.

  5. Powell/Division was narrowed down further last night:

    * The project will use Tilikum Crossing, not the Ross Island Bridge.
    * Alignments using Cesar Chavez Boulevard and SE 92nd were removed from the table. Use of 82nd to cross from Powell to Division is the overwhelming favorite, though the 50th/52nd options remain on the table.
    * In Gresham, the Eastman Parkway, Cleveland Avenue, and Hogan Road routings remain on the table. Ending the line at Gresham TC, and the Powell and Division/Kane routings have been dropped.

    • Having the cross-over at 82nd means that all student riders at PCC will have to cross two streets one time EVERY round trip and one street the other round trip. That street would probably be Division, but the crossing would be right at 82nd where a protected zone cannot be available at all times as it could be on Division a block west.

      Students at PCC are always likely to be the greatest demographic that uses the system.

      By continuing the line westward on Division they’ll have one stop directly adjacent to the campus and while the other could be across the much less busy Division west of 82nd, say between 80th and 81st.

      Who is going to use the system at 82nd and Powell? Virtually “standing” in the middle of the intersection there and rotating 360 using Google Earth shows one and two story building in every direction as far as the camera can see!

      Yes, Powell has the precious frontage roads intermittently between about 60th and 76th, so if the project were going to be LRT, certainly it should have used that available right of way. But you can be double damn betcha certain that nobody is going to suggest a way to use that right of way for BRT. They’re just buses for God’s sake! /snark

      52nd is the ticket with a bus only left turn pocket and normally yellow flashing but turns red when a bus enters the pocket priority for the eastbound buses. One tree would have to be removed and the lanes of one direction moved a bit into the “parking”.

      Nothing similar is needed on Division at 52nd; but perhaps bus queue jump in the right turn only curb lane could be added.

      • PCC might be an important enough destination for a slight diversion. One possibility would be to buy the bank at the northwest corner of the intersection and replace it (and its parking lot) with a small bus plaza, that the P/D line (as well as the 4 and 72, or whatever else happens to come by) can use to provide a safe stop to pick up/drop off passengers, and also function as a time point if needed for operations.

        TriMet does seem to be taking BRT at least somewhat seriously, both on this and on SWC. Given the project budget and timeline, I suspect the result will be at the lower end of the BRT scale (“Bronze” BRT, not anything approaching “Gold”), but still substantially better than the existing local service. One nice thing about this project, as opposed to SWC, is it’s on a much faster schedule; they hope to have the line up and running by the end of the decade, and funding sources do appear to be at least somewhat identified.

        • Are you suggesting that eastbound buses coming north up 82nd would turn left into a TC then exit eastbound on Division? I honestly don’t see how that would work in any way efficiently. Yes, it would certainly fix the street crossing problem, and it may be necessary if 82nd is chosen. But what an operations nightmare!

          Traffic stopped for the intersection would seem to doom such a facility; it’s much too close to the intersection for buses to exit reliably.

          • A lot depends on what sort of signal priority the buses get. 82nd and Division (along with 82nd and Powell) are both the sorts of horrible intersections that routinely back up traffic for several signal phases, that if a bus can get priority through, it would be a big win.

            One possibility would be a bus plaza that is entered on Division and exited on 82nd, buses heading coming from either direction would loop around. For this to work effectively, they need to enjoy reasonable signal priority at the intersections involved.

            If done right, the 4 and 72 could use it as well.

            • I’d like to see a design that would work for eastbound (e.g. northbound on 82nd). The westbound buses? Yes, absolutely. Zip through the intersection, turn right into the Plaza. Stop. Exit turning right onto 82nd heading south. There could even be a mid-block light for the right lane that forbade cars from approaching the intersection when a bus was preparing to exit.

              But unfortunately, the westbound buses aren’t the ones with the biggest problem. Whether they stopped before or after making the turn (after would be better, IMO), people would have to cross only Division OR 82nd.

              But eastbound (e.g. northbound on 82nd) buses would have to make a horribly convoluted route. Turn left onto Division, then turn right into the Plaza. Stop. Then what?

              Exit turning right onto 82nd? There’s no way the bus will be able to get into the left turn lane most of the day. Loop around and exit onto Division? Possibly because there’s relatively little traffic west of the intersection. But, if there are cars in the left turn pocket they’d be in the way.

              Maybe if the Plaza were a block or so the east and the buses always exited to turn east onto Division it might work. But it would be a bit out of the way.

              Do like Seattle does at Alaska Junction and have the eastbound buses turn left a block early, go around the block and then stop just before turning onto Division? With a marked and possibly lighted cross-walk there that might be an OK solution. But it would be slow also.

              There are no easy options for serving PCC eastbound with a cross-over at 82nd.

            • What about making the mid-block light on 82nd (suggested by Anandakos) stop all lanes of southbound traffic at the time the light at Division turns green, giving a westbound bus the opportunity to cross to the left lane and make a turn? It would interrupt traffic for perhaps twenty seconds every ten to fifteen minutes. But wouldn’t that make westbound operation run reasonably smoothly? Left turn onto Division, right into the plaza, right turn across stopped traffic to the left turn lane on 82nd, then left onto Division.

              If the bus can preempt signals, it might go pretty smoothly.

            • Douglas,

              That’s a good idea. I don’t know how it would work during peak hours when the queue doesn’t fully clear all the time, but it’s certainly worth investigating.

  6. Bike Portland is reporting that the Orange Line may end up being significantly under budget:

    While not all of the saved money is available for project enhancements (and only capital improvements within the scope of the project may receive a Federal match), TriMet does now have the problem of what to do with the surplus cash…

    • Wouldn’t the “future” Harold St. Station (a stone’s throw from the heart of Reed College) fall within that scope of work? That undoubtedly would qualify as a “capital” expense. If the funds are available now, then why postpone construction of that station? Build it now and the students and faculty of Reed won’t have to schlep a half mile each way to use the Bybee Station.

      • Yeah, that’s a good idea. Put the Harold station back in the project. It would require a new pedestrian/bike viaduct at Reedway to serve Reed College, but I’m sure that can be built well within the surplus.

    • If the Orange Line really is $200 million under budget, how about seeking approval to extend the line down McLoughlin to Gladstone? That’s about 4 miles, so $50 million per mile. Should be easily attainable, given that it would be entirely in existing ROW with no structures required. Move Oregon City TC to a new transit plaza just south of Arlington Street and you get plenty of bus connections at the end of the line.

      Actually, if Tri-Met was able to transfer the surplus $200 million to a McLoughlin extension, and if ODOT contributed right-of-way to leverage additional federal matching funds, there might be enough money for a new bridge across the Clackamas River. In that case, maybe the Orange Line could be extended all the way to the Oregon City Amtrak station — an even better place for a transit plaza.

    • I also think the natural terminus for the Orange line is downtown Oregon City, but that was never included in the scope of the current project. And it would have a much lower cost/mile than the PMLR did. The Harold Station, however, was within that scope of work, and thus should be able to be funded with the current savings realized here. Does anybody know if TriMet is considering this?

      • I know “further south on McLoughlin” wasn’t in the scope of the current project, but I wonder if there’s a way for TriMet to get permission to revise the scope of the project and use unspent money to expand it. There’s already a DEIS (from the 1990s) on light rail down McLoughlin, so TriMet wouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel to get the process started (although updates would be needed), and the EIS process could probably be accelerated.

        If I were running TriMet, that’s something I’d be looking at about now. See if there’s any way the feds will allow it. The potential of keeping $200 million already alloted + whatever the federal government might match for ODOT-donated right-of-way is ALMOST like getting a free project. I’d snap it up if I could.

        • The voters of Clackamas County have made it clear that they don’t want more Light Rail. Let Democracy work. Build the Harold Station and as many bus interface improvements as make sense and give the rest of the money back.

          Prove the haters wrong.

          • No point in trying to prove “haters” wrong. That happens all the time, but they aren’t interested in evidence. I’ve lost count of the number of people who keep insisting TriMet MAX projects are massively late and over-budget, despite a long and consistent record of the reverse. If TriMet “gave the rest of the money” back, it wouldn’t change the rhetoric of the haters one iota.

            Also, it’s a long-standing principle of legal construction that in interpreting an initiative measure, you look only at the words on the page. You don’t speculate on what “the voters” WANTED because there’s no way to know; each person made the decision in the privacy of the metaphorical voting booth. The voters in Clackamas County made clear they wanted any local light rail spending to be put to a vote. They did NOT ban further light rail projects, or require a vote on all rail projects … they only asked for a popular vote on the local funding component.

            If TriMet can put the surplus $200 million to extend the Orange line as I suggested, it would be an ODOT/TriMet project. There will be no need for a local vote for funding because there will be no local funding. The will of the voters is honored.

            • I live right in the vicinity of the MLR and whether it is “within budget” or not, I think it is a totally stupid project. The entire S/SE transportation conundrum could have been solved for a small fraction of the combined expenditures on MLR and the Sellwood bridge and I would rather not have riff raff from further south coming in to Portland anyway.

            • So, since so-called “riff raff” presumably drive cars and/or walk, do you also propose eliminating streets to and from “your” neighborhood? You know, since you apparently don’t want to come into contact with somebody who is different than you are.

      • I don’t think a Harold St. station would ever be worth it for Trimet to build a stop there.

        Land use does not support transit and never will – the station is on the wrong side of highway 99 in an active freight rail yard and industrial zone. Most of Reed college is quite a distance from the station – it would be a minimum of 1,420 foot walk from the station just to access SE 28th ave (for most people, a 5-minute walk). This doesn’t include stairs, elevated walkways, turnstiles and elevators which would have to be navigated.

        The area between the station and Reed it is very rural/light industrial or parkland in nature – namely Eastmoreland Golf Course and Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Also, Reed college doesn’t really have a very large population (~1,400)… and most of their students live on campus or in the nearby neighborhood, anyway. Its not like PSU, which has a huge amount of people commuting from across the metro area (~28,000 students + 2,500 staff).

        There are very, very few transit-friendly land uses within 1/4 mile of the station; just a few low-density residential units. Perhaps a few hundred residents, tops.

        I actually live right next to where the station would be, and honestly it would be better (and my neighbors have commented in agreement) that it would be easier to just walk to a nearby station and hop on the MAX there. The neighborhood is very pro-transit in general, but we just don’t see the utility of having a personal max station! The lack of a station would help to also not inconvenience a lot of other riders for the benefit of very, very few.

        • Actually, I would argue that the Bybee Station is far more isolated from surrounding transit-supportive uses than the Harold Station would be. Bybee is flanked on BOTH sides by a major park and a major golf course. The Eastmoreland neighborhood has virtually NO opportunity for added density and the heart of the Westmoreland neighborhood (SE Milwaukie and SE 17th) is almost a half mile away.

          A Harold Station, on the other hand, is closer to Westmoreland’s Milwaukie and !7th Avenues, plus very close to the industrial area (i.e., jobs) to the east and the higher density residential opportunities along SE 28th. Yes, Reed College is still a 5 minute walk away, but it’s a good 15 minute walk to get from Reed to the Bybee Station. Also, with a Harold Station, you would have a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the RR tracks where there currently is none. Right now, you have to go all the way up to Holgate, or down to Bybee, to cross over the tracks. That’s almost a mile apart. A new overcrossing at Harold/Reedway would be a huge improvement in access for neighborhoods on both sides of the tracks.

          This wouldn’t be a “personal” MAX station for you and a couple of your neighbors, it would be a vital access point for thousands of people in the immediate area.

          • Westmoreland Park is only two block wide along Bybee, tho. There is housing on both sides of highway 99, as well as direct access to downtown Sellwood at SE Milwaukie and Bybee. There is no retail or mix of uses at Harold, its a dead-end residential area.

            There is a reason Trimet built the Bybee and not the Harold station.

  7. A few notes:

    The Harold Street station was planned as a future station from the start IIRC; it wasn’t a budget casualty. In the long term, it is likely that some of the current industrial uses will be converted.

    And “keeping riffraff” out of the neighborhood is not a good design criteria for mass transit. Riff-raff, whoever you think that may be, generally does not require light rail to get around.

    • Spend the money on adding back in the parking garage at Tacoma Street. That mess of an area is perfect for a drive and park garage and in the long term that parking lot will be full daily. Building it will add ridership to the line so it’s probably a wise investment.

  8. The Tacoma Street and 99 area would be really good for high density homes (I hope not rentals) with Johnson Creek meandering through and making an ideal greenway. I suppose the limiting factor is that it straddles two municipalities.

    • Being on the border of two cities wouldn’t limit development of that area if it’s zoned appropriately. Look at Bridgeport Village… it’s half Tigard, half Tualatin.

      So what’s wrong with high density rental housing?

      • It seems like rent is going to go so high, that Portlanders who are renting will be stuck there. Unless they have an outside souirce of money or two high incomes.Ever since the Goodwill store was torn down there I’ve thought about the uses, and it would be a nice area for some modest cost towers, being proximate to a number of neighborhoods. A condo in this area should be less than downtown, so hopefully more affordable. I don’t think you would get cheap rent until past the Park Street station. It really is a sweet little area, would have some river and creek views and maybe enough people would justify an AMTRAK stop? A park and ride of five stories then comdos above would start getting them out of the noise zone,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *