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Rethinking transit on the west side

 

No, this is not a post about the Southwest Corridor project, though that is certainly a relevant topic here.  Instead, it’s an update on the Service Enhancement Plans covering the west side of town, both the Westside SEP (covering Beaverton, Aloha, Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Cedar Mill, Cedar Hills, and Bethany), and the Southwest SEP (covering SW Portland, Tigard, Durham, King City, Tualatin, Sherwood, Lake Oswego, and West Linn).  TriMet published the Westside plan last year, and Portland Transport examined it then.  Now, TriMet has published a draft vision for the Southwest region, and is seeking public comment.  While the Southwest SEP draft anticipates somewhat the Southwest Corridor project, it doesn’t include it.  Oh, and the SW map also drops a few more hints (and contains a few revisions) of plans for the Westside.

The obvious caveat:  This is a vision document, not something for which there (necessarily) exists funding to pay for.  Both plans include substantial increases in service hours–and there are many things in these documents that have long been on TriMet’s published wishlist, but never delivered by the agency.

This article will focus a bit more on the Southwest changes, but highlights of the Westside plan are also included–especially where it appears things have changed.

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Actually, let’s not bother to fix federal transportation funding

We probably need higher gas taxes in the United States. We desperately need a federal carbon tax. But do we really need higher federal gas taxes?

No, we don’t.

As Congress debates highway-funding stopgaps and Oregon’s most influential transportation experts get ready for an Aug. 4 forum about the future of U.S. transportation funding, maybe it’s time for urbanists to shed our Rockefeller-funded patriotic umbrage drag and stop pretending that we really, really care about the sanctity of the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

All our states have gas taxes. Raise them 25 cents each (or whatever) and they can do the job just fine.

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Midsummer Night’s Open Thread

Been out of town, and been watching a little sporting event down in Brazil.  Now that that’s over, ’tis time for another open thread.

  • The Powell/Division project is starting to heat up.  A series of outreach meeting will occur in the next couple of weeks, and a few new documents are available.
  • Was in Seattle last week.  While there are parts of Seattle transportation planning that I’m happy not to see replicated here (such as the boring machine stuck below the harbor), I was constantly impressed by the amount of exclusive bus lanes, both on freeways and on surface streets.
  • Beaverton’s planning for the South Cooper Mountain area is also being promoted to the public.  Transit isn’t on the agenda directly, but the proposed street network includes several new arterial routes over Cooper Mountain, making bus service through the area potentially easier.
  • C-TRAN budgets $6.7M in matching funds for the Fourth Plain BRT project; the project (which unfortunately will be mixed-traffic BRT) will start construction next year, and open in 2016.   One interesting question:  The project has long assumed that the CRC and Yellow Line extension would get built, as of now, that’s not happening.
  • Some area freeways going high-tech.
  • Next week, the new SunLink streetcar line in Tuscon, AZ opens, featuring 8 new vehicles from Oregon Iron Works.

Eleven Reasons Portland Transport readers should come to the 2013 Weston Awards.

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Hey, folks! My name is Aaron Brown, and I’m currently serving as Board President of Oregon Walks, the state’s pedestrian advocacy organization that’s been busy working to make streets safer for walking in the state since 1991. I’ll ask you to please excuse my remarkably obnoxious, buzzfeedesque title and format of this article, but I really wanted to extend a personal invitation to readers of Portland’s wonkiest, most wonderful blog to attend our third annual Weston Awards, to be held this October 26, 2013. I thought this enumerated list of reasons might convince you to swing by the North Star Ballroom next Saturday. Here we go!

  1. Every transit trip begins and ends with a walk. I’d imagine many readers of this blog are brought to the table of livable communities advocacy by their interest in transit options in the Portland region. The previous successes and ongoing advocacy of Oregon Walks are an often-overlooked but enormously crucial component of making transit a more effective, more viable, and more desirable option for getting around town. TriMet recently conducted a Pedestrian Network Analysis report highlighting the need for more safety, sidewalks and places to walk, and support of our organization helps us work with TriMet, Metro, and local jurisdictions to stand up for that all-important last-mile, or even last-block.OrWalkLogo_RGB[1]
  2. Making conditions safe for walking is a social justice issue. Thanks to the work of some remarkable, inspiring advocates and community organizers, the topic of safe streets in low-income and communities of color in East Portland has gained tremendous traction in recent years. This was reflected most recently in the unconscionable traffic fatality of 5-year old Morgan Maynard-Cook, who was walking on a stretch of SE 136th without sidewalks. Our organization is steadfastly working to make streets safer for all road users, and our initiative to do so implicitly helps communities that are less-likely to own automobiles, live on safer streets.
  3. Our work for empowerment and advocacy broadens the livable communities tent. As I presented the Oregon Walks letter to City Hall regarding SW Barbur last week, I noticed that I and the other twelve folks who testified were white men. This obviously points to some larger systemic issues about participation in our democracy, especially as it relates to transportation and planning decisions, and I’m proud to say that Oregon Walks is uniquely poised to help bring more folks to the table to stand up for livable, walkable communities. As an example of our work to promote social empowerment be sure to check out…
  4. PhotovoicePIC1-500x352[1]…our Photovoice Project, which will be on display, because it’s seriously rad. Thanks to a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund,  Oregon Walks has hired the wonderful Casey Ogden to implement a project in partnership with Adelante Mujures, in which Latina Women in Washington County are empowered to take photos of their unsafe streets and present them to elected officials.  The project, titled “Walking: paravida, familia, y comunidad,” represents the epitome of the next generation of walking advocacy, and I couldn’t be more excited to show their work to our Weston Awards audience.
  5. We’re all getting older. When I say that Oregon Walks is bringing new partners to the table, I’m proud to say our organization is partnering with some newer allies who are increasingly concerned with community design, access and mobility. Amongst our Weston Awards winners this year are Donna Green, who ran the City of Portland’s Senior Strolls program, and Bandana Shresthra, the Community Engagement Director with AARP Oregon. With these groups and others such as Elders in Action on board, Oregon Walks is eager to help us design and advocate for communities that will be ready for our region’s ever-shifting demographics.
  6. What better way to celebrate Walktober! We’re in our second year of celebrating Walktober, our monthlong collection of walking. Did you see our recent article in the Oregonian? Why not spend your Saturday evening walking to the Weston Awards? Go ahead and get off the bus a few stops early to enjoy a couple blocks of walking through North Portland.
  7. Did you ever feel so strongly about traffic laws you’ve felt like you practically wear them on your sleeves? If you swing by the Weston Awards, you’ll have a chance to pick up a limited edition, MUTCD-compliant Crosswalk Stop tshirt, as put together by our friends at Lancaster Engineering.
  8. Good Grub! We’ll have food from a handful of restaurants located on Mississsippi Avenue and beer from Thunder Island Brewing, the Cascade Locks-based brewery recently profiled by Michael Andersen over on BikePortland.
  9. We Need a New Executive Director. And your attendance (especially when you bring your checkbook, *cough*) will help us bring new staff on board. If you’ll excuse the pun, we’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill as we look to hire the next Executive Director to succeed the indefatigable, voraciously talented Steph Routh. We’re really excited to begin the recruiting process for our next hired staff, and we won’t be able to bring in the best and the brightest without your help.
  10. 22127a[1]The opportunity to thank a living legend in person. Ray Polani is the wonkiest, most wonderful nonagenarian you could be so lucky as to meet, and Oregon Walks is giving him a lifetime achievement award for his incredible work to support walking-friendly neighborhoods in the region. Check out this August 2013 interview in the Catholic Sentinel, where he calls the Columbia River Crossing “a disaster” and mentions the importance of designing communities for walking. Chris Smith called him “the dean of transit advocates in Portland,” and next Saturday is your chance to thank him in person for a tremendous career of advocacy. We should all be so lucky as to be thinking about transportation in Portland at age ninety.
  11. Biggest reason you should attend? The Westons are fun. Look, I’ve been to my share of gala dinners and events. Last year’s 2012 Weston Awards was, by far, the most enjoyable fundraiser I’ve ever attended. We’re a nimble, scrappy organization doing everything from sitting on planning committees, holding walking events, empowering new communities and supporting legislation all the way up to the state and national levels, and we know how to have a good time. And what better way to celebrate Halloween, the Sidewalk Holiday, than to attend a fundraiser for our state’s pedestrian advocacy organization?

Please buy a ticket! The Early Bird Price is in effect through the end of the weekend. If you’re unable to attend the event next Saturday but you’ve found any of this piece persuasive or enjoyable, consider making a donation, from $500 t0 $5. Any help at all is appreciated.

The Weston Awards
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
6:00 – 9:00pm
North Star Ballroom
635 N. Killingsworth Ct., Portland