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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 1, 2008 8:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Reader poll: Would you take a Christmas tree with a slug on it?. The next post in this blog is Good afternoon, shoppers -- our CEO is in the clink. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

You've been rear-ended by Homer Williams


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The impacts of the multi-faceted fiasco known as the SoWhat District in southwest Portland include one predictable side effect: unsafe traffic conditions at the corner of Macadam and Curry. In 18 months, there were 14 crashes there -- so many that the city is planning to prohibit a right turn onto Curry off the part of northbound Macadam that's the I-5 offramp.

The SoWhat weasels are squealing loudly in opposition to the new traffic restriction. It's not the right turn that's causing the accidents, they say; the problem is rear-end collisions.

Oh.

Meanwhile, given the lack of money to build a proper off-ramp from northbound I-5 into SoWhat, the city has now figured out how people are going to get to the wonderful new concrete tower jungle when they're driving in from the south on I-5. The permanent solution? They're going to make that traffic go all the way past SoWhat to Harbor Drive -- that's the ramp between I-5 and I-405 that eventually takes you to Front Avenue. You'll get off on Harbor Drive, proceeding under the Marquam Bridge, and head way on up north to the traffic light at River Parkway -- there to make a right, and then another right, and head back south under the Marquam on Moody. From where I-5 passes Bancroft, off onto Harbor and back to the corner of Moody and Bancroft, it's about a two-mile loop. For this kind of perfect mess we pay hundreds of city planners.

We've mortgaged Portland's future for this black hole, and there still isn't enough in the kitty to come anywhere close to making it work. Ah well -- go by streetcar!

Comments (25)

That so-called "solution" will waste tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline every year. I guess it's OK to waste gas now that it costs less than two bucks a gallon.

It's not only a lack of money. There are no good solutions at any cost. As far as planning, make no mistake, not dealing with transportation on the front end was part of the plan. The plan worked. The pretty buildings got built. They wouldn't exist otherwise. Getting anyone to build in the future is a different story.

There is an article in Friday's Biz Journal about 'so what'
entitled "Waterfront Comedown" and Bob Scanlan says he will not be investing there!

Meanwhile, people in Lair Hill will soon be able to walk to the planned SoWhat ghost town on an aesthetically pleasing pedestrian bridge.

Lair Hill Resident: "But why would I want to go down there?"

"Planner": Aww, go jump in the river.

Meanwhile, given the lack of money to build a proper off-ramp from northbound I-5 into SoWhat...

I bet they get that long before inner SE gets the southbound on-ramp they've been waiting for for a couple of decades.

Why not make the SoWhat the first car free area in Portland?

The planners were counting on high transit usage anyway - lets take it all the way!

Replace some of that ugly sprawl in Dunthorpe with a large parking lot and let them take the LO streetcar into the SoWhat.

Ban cars and the SoWhat will prosper!!! All those creative class people will fall all over each other to live in Portland’s new car free utopia. Maybe Sam the Tram can lead the way.

Thanks
JK

On the principle that free market forces resolve everything for the best, I recommend removal of all signals and lane markings and the suspension of all traffic rules and restrictions, so we can let motorists be guided at this distribution point by the Invisible Hand.

Good old SoWhat . . . or as I sometimes call it, "Little Dubai". The funny thing is, all these New Urbanist types tend to go around complaining about hierarchical road network topologies. It looks like they're being forced to accept one--I think it's hilarious on one level, but sad in the fact that millions if not billions of tax dollars--probably even some outside of Portland--have been completely wasted.

What a disaster this is . . . everytime I go by SoWhat on I-5, I shake my head. It's a monument to stupidity.

Why couldn't you just get off at Corbett?

Corbett -- then what? South a few blocks, the left at the Water Tower, another left onto northbound Macadam. Guess it works, until everybody tries it.

Hey Allan L: not that it's wrong to poke fun of the quasi-religious rapture with which some folks refer to the Invisible Hand - but removing some regulation at intersections might be beneficial.

Examples from The Netherlands really aren't relevant -- they have actual driver training and testing, and most of the cars on the road are operated by the skilled and sober.

The fact is that in this Mecca of planning none of the planning bureaucracies considered or planned for the traffic in this area.
There was no traffic impact study performed that included ANY traffic from the South. Nice stunt. Only the city can get away with that.


This is how a big PLAN like this is advanced. By complete Bullshat.


Let's review.
Every project estimate was underestimated BS.
The revenue projections were inflated BS.
The planners drawings of building height, width and spacing were BS.
The traffic plans were BS.
The Tram was BS.
The biotech cluster and 1000s of biotech jobs was BS.
The affordable housing was BS.
The schedule was BS.

Yet the PDC staff reported that "North Macadam" BS was "feasible" as they "recommended approval". PDC commissioners proudly voted for approval.

Vera Katz and the city council voted for approval in the face of all of the BS being pointed out by many people.

Sorry to say, there WAS a dubious PDOT transportation plan for SoWhat that was presented before Vera and Sam and the rest of the council several times. Remember Matt Brown of PDOT?, he was generally the presenter at all the hearings and neighborhood outreaches. He stated that 40% of the trips in SoWhat would be provided by transit, and that there would then be an increase of vehicle trips of 49,000 per day with 60% from the south. Matt said that with a few minor transportation projects the increase could be handled and PDOT disregarded all the public testimony that questioned that premise, especially the "no funding" aspect of the plan.

Now the same PDOT has come up with the latest concept of dumping the fly-over ramp off I-5 at the present surface off ramp location for north bound traffic. As Jack says, its only logical to add two miles to get to the same point in SoWhat. ODOT has committed $30 Million to this ramp, but PDOT wants to advocate the two-mile plan to save $20 Million and acerbate the problem.

But there are hidden motives behind this. OHSU has said publicly that they want the difference of ODOT's $30M to be applied to other transportation projects in SoWhat-like their own streets that need to be developed for their campus!?

This all follows the Metro, PDOT's belief that vehicles are bad, everyone will use transit and to hell with service vehicles serving all the bio-tech jobs in SoWhat. If their theory fails and dumps massive amount of traffic into Lair Hill, Corbett, Johns Landing, Fulton Park and Homestead they don't care. They are expendable neighborhoods. They need congestion, tall buildings and urban centers.

What is so sad about all this is that there were many solid testimonies with data, drawings, etc. that highlighted these concerns throughout the 10 years of planning up to the councils adoption of the "Plan" for SoWhat. And this fact can
be easily documented.

The question becomes: where is the planning that has been paid for in SoWhat?
It is a question that needs to be asked and answered.

Every 38 days there is a rear-ender and this is a traffic hazard? Not knowing what the traffic counts are, I would guess that that is a small number considering the number of cars a day. Maybe people should stop texting on that stretch of road.

pdxjim, it has become one of the highest traffic accident intersections of the city. ODOT is very concerned. PDOT probably likes it because every car off the road is a benefit.

From PDOT reports, the accident speeds at this intersection are averaging over 40 mph. They are very serious, sideswiping as well as rear-enders. They cause extensive delays that backs up traffic for long periods onto I-5 as well as on Macadam.

It's hard to so all this waste and misdirection when Linnton, eastside neighborhoods and the Sellwood bridge go begging.

Maybe if other neighborhoods hired an artist-in-residence like SoWhat's, they could get a small piece of the pie.

Yeah, that's it.

And per OHSU's financial woes . . . what happened to the $100 million dollar Knight donation to the OHSU cancer center? $98 million was be used at the discretion of the Knight Cancer Institute's director, Dr. Brian Druker. I would imagine that such an amount would at least cast a cloak of invulnerability over a portion of the campus. Did they already burn through that?

Regarding:

"The biotech cluster and 1000s of biotech jobs was BS."

Do not forget, we did get one biotech company. Znomics (symbol ZNOM) with 16 employees. It can now be bought for a dime a share. It started at three bucks 7 months ago.

But did the so far spent $160 Million of SoWhat taxpayer money create Znomics? No. That's what Vera promised. Give it time, right?

Portland's theory is that you promise Vesta $12.5 Million of taxpayer money to come to Portland, then sue Freightliner to have them leave. Sam's economic policy.

I'm sure our formerly bankrupt, gay college dropout mayor-to-be will have ALL the solutions to these problems! LOL! LOL!

My inside friends told me that the City knew when it approved the South Waterfront plan that the roads weren't adequate and couldn't be made adequate to serve the expected traffic.

Isaac, if what you say is true (and it is) then those who approved, staff that lobbied for approval and gave false information should be prosecuted and at least demoted or fired. This is just as much of a white-collar crime as any other.

Our city and state Land Use Plans require adequate transportation infrastructure before or current with development. It is required for free enterprise developers, it should be required for city and state sponsored projects like SoWhat.

"friends told me that the City knew when it approved the South Waterfront plan that the roads weren't adequate"

Of course they knew it.

Just as they knew the drawings were not accurately depicting the building sizes and density or the greenway. The buildings were deflated and the greenway inflated.
Just as was projects budget and revenue projections.
The ped/bike bridge over I-5 was initially guesstimated to cost a mere $1.2 million.
The Tram $8.5 milion.
The parks, greenway, streets etc ALL low balled estimates.
The whole plan was and is a scam.

Tax dollars paid for staff to cook up a package they could call feasible and worthy of official approval.

The fact that things get built there deosn't make it somehow OK.

JerryBenHowardLee, it may not be OK, but that's the way it's always been done.


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