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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 2, 2009 1:41 PM. The previous post in this blog was Is it time to bury voice mail?. The next post in this blog is Still flopping around weakly. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

We interrupt our regularly scheduled curmudgeonly rants

Yesterday I was over in this neighborhood and I stumbled across a flyer about this. As cranky as I get with the kids running Portland, this actually seems like a decent project.

Now, if they could get the utility lines off the poles and underground, we'd really be talking about improvement.

Comments (21)

These installations have been tested in Seattle with resounding success in reducing storm runoff and capturing toxics.

So it's a good thing we paid for a $ 1/2 billion big pipe when we could of had these in every neighborhood.

Our city council: so far ahead of the curve that they're behind it.

We're working with some neighborhood folks to try and bring a project like this around the close-in NE part of town.

These are cool, but don't forget that the water doesn't magically disappear. The neighbors might see the water again in their basements.

Boys and girls, can you say sink hole?

Now, if they could get the utility lines off the poles and underground, we'd really be talking about improvement.

Be careful what you wish for. Electricity is underground in my neighborhood, and when we get lots of rain in the fall, the drains plug up. Then the water fills up the utility vault and shorts out the transformer. Blew up good last time. No power for almost a week. It melted a major line that went under the street, and they had to dig it all up.

Sorry to interrupt this message, but don't we have like $60 million to scrape together for Merritt Paulson first?

These are cool, but don't forget that the water doesn't magically disappear. The neighbors might see the water again in their basements.

I agree, but favor swales for exactly this reason.

The storm drain on my street backs up about a third of the time it rains. I find it hard to believe that a swale would "back up" more often than the existing system.

Also, the swales also have a big advantage in dealing with the rain where it falls instead of concentrating it. When the storm drain on my street backs up, it floods the corner with a full city block's worth of water. If the swale does "back up" you are only concentrating a small amount of water in one place.

Also, it looks simple so property owners could fix problems themselves with a rake rather than calling the city to clear a storm drain.


I don't get it. The flyer about the project has the same sort of verbiage that habitually attracts ridicule here.

@ Fred: Not to speak for Jack, but I think you've nicely highlighted the difference between style and substance. The verbiage can be applied to anything. Discerning people look through that to determine if the substance merits the verbiage.

I even like the bike part of this. Clay is one block south of Hawthorne, and it's already a de facto bike boulevard between the west side of Ladd's Addition and the river. Time to stripe it and configure it to match that reality.

It looks like that portion of SE Clay, between 6th and Ladd's Addition, is already a bike route that ties into Madison/Hawthorne for the cross-bridge route:

http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=34809&a=181708

From the Google Maps view it doesn't look like there is much room for actual bike lanes on that portion of Clay, but it's designated as quiet enough to not need lanes...

bioswales are nice. there's only one problem:

if every street in Portland had the equivalent of what's in that picture, the "reducing of burden" on the sewer system, etc. that the flyer promotes would be minimal.

and, even if every commercial building had a green roof.

in other words, the real sewer problem is the *massive* amount of stormwater runoff from paved streets, sidewalks, highways, and other surfaces--and water waste from the built environment.

bioswales and green roofs are the equivalent of holding a paper coffee cup under Niagara Falls. they're pretty, but largely ineffectual. they're "green" window dressing.

does that mean don't do them? no. but let's see them for what they really are, and what they actually affect.

I agree with eco, they are a drop-in-the-bucket and after awhile they aren't so pretty because there is no money budgeted for maintenance.

Also, if you've ever driven a U-Haul truck, or watched a typical delivery truck try to negotiate turns at these bump-outs, it takes a few back and forths to turn. If there is a vehicle sitting at the stop perpendicular to your desired turn, you can't make it until they back up or leave. These eco bumps or curb extensions cause traffic problems, especially backing up traffic that might want to make a free right hand turn. Who cares about traffic?

Clay is sufficiently low traffic to not need a bike lane -- the idea behind bike boulevards is that cyclists can integrate at 25 mph, and those that can't are easily passable given the lack of heavy traffic. As a cyclist, I prefer not to be boxed in by such lanes, as they often take you into the door zone and various other hazardous conditions, and motorists seem to think you're in the wrong if you exit the lane to avoid said conditions. Also, passing slower cyclists is too tight on a bike lane.

I'm not a fan of the narrow cycle-track/bike-lane direction that the city government is pushing us in.

chriswnw makes some excellent points; the bioswales may be a step in the right direction by themselves, but beginning to regiment the lanes and parking in the area is, I think, a terrible mistake. The inner east side is a very active commercial area with a great deal of in-and-out traffic all day and the looser sensibility with regards to parking, deliveries, blocking the roads, etc. truly is a great asset. The city may want to get all aggressive about painting everything up, posting signs and handing out tickets, but they'll be the only ones happy with the results. My sense is that everybody who works in the area appreciates and needs the warehouse/improvisational feel of the streets.

Egads! Are you sure this is from the CoP politburo? It actually shows cars on teh streets?

The cost and cost and other priorities should step to the front of the line.
In fact Portland has a huge sewer system problem that needs those dollars.

The rarely mentioned problem that the BIG PIPE is not addresssing is many miles of city sewer lines are antiquated and frequently rupture.
Many of the crumbling lines are located under stream beds in the West Hills.
All of the watershed interests and eco-enviro regs don't mean much when raw sewage regularily drains into city streams.
Yet city officials are less than inspired to tackle this costly and not so post card
ready task.
How is it that so many millions can be spent on these many bubble curbs & swales, which in operation make little or no contribution to a better system, while sewage is perpetualy polluting Portland?


How is it that so many millions can be spent on these many bubble curbs & swales, which in operation make little or no contribution to a better system, while sewage is perpetualy polluting Portland?

because it's pretty.

like Adams claiming today that his "bike boxes" were directly responsible for helping to decrease recent traffic fatality numbers.

Speaking about burying power lines; I 've noticed on recent trips to Phoenix and Reno that they have almost no power lines on poles. Isn't it about time that PGE started burying their power lines and started operating like a 21st century utility company? The excuse about "downed power lines" is getting old and more antiquated by the day.

Dave A, putting existing electric utility lines underground would cost PGE a fortune. Are you willing to pay higher rates for this service? In new neighborhoods, utility services are placed underground, but it's quite a different thing to do that in older neighborhoods (believe me, people will complain about the streets being torn up).

but they're already complaining of that....

because the streets are already torn up! The reason PGE won't do it proactively is that they'd have to pay for the street paving. If they wait for someone else to open up the street, then they can all share costs on the repaving.


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