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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Digging in the dirt

Today Willamette Week repeats the age-old question: With all the money Portland blows on frills, how can it still have so many neighborhoods with unpaved roads? "Stretches of our city still look more like Appalachia than Cascadia." No kidding. Go by streetcar!

Comments (30)

Maybe the city couldn't afford enough Volvo paving equipment, but I'm sure it's probably the best-money-can-buy.

And I'm sure whatever maintenance parts it needs are of the finest European manufacture too!

It's easy. There's an age old answer that keeps getting ignored.However, never has there been a more glaring demonstration of the problem than the contrast between the Sellwood Bridge and Milwaukie Light Rail.

Keep in mind this is only 1 of many examples at every level.

After decades of defective prioritizing that leaves the Sellwood Bridge in such neglect that it is closed to trucks and buses JPACT commited $204 million from fed flex funds to Milwaukie Light Rail (with it's new transit only bridge) and allocated zero to the Sellwood Bridge. This could easily be un-done and re-allocated as none of it has been spent. But JPACT members, drunk on the "Environmental Justice" elixer are moving in the oppostie direction ramping up the misappropriaton region wide. .

The legislature allocates $400 million in lottery profits for $250 million in lottery bonds for Milwaukie Light Rail and zero for the Sellwood Bridge.

That's not the entirety of the Sellwood Bridge vs MLR malfeasence. There are many other pieces of misappropriation intertwined in just these two projects that result in chronic neglect of basic infrastructure.

The decision making behind the neglect of the Sellwood bridge has been dupliacted over and over again region wide and is NOW worse than ever with greater amounts ever imaginable being misspents.

So if people think the long neglect of the Sellwood bridge was an isolated or a seldom occuring misstep it is becasue they have been deceived by both public officials and the media who should have been reporting all of this all along.

"Environmental Justice"

Regional flexible funding
Setting priorities for flexible funds
A Regional Flexible Funds Task Force was formed to advise JPACT on priorities for the 2014-15 program, which will spend about $24 million on active transportation/complete streets and green economy/freight projects. View the Task Force Report
2012-2015 flexible funds allocation
In JPACT in July 2010 decided how to divide the next round of flexible funds among those areas. The committee asked that a task force advise on how to make the most of the $24 million. It also called for a working group to advise on how the program can address environmental justice concerns. The task force's recommendations have been documented in a report that JPACT and Metro Council will consider in mid February. The working group has helped identify transportation needs and priorities in Environmental Justice and underserved communities and helped refine the methodology that will be used for analytical mapping to be completed by the end of February.


Recommended criteria for scoping and prioritization of projects

I couldn't believe it when I got here four years ago and found all these unpaved streets. A totally new experience made all the more shocking because the press about Portland that I'd seen before arriving was about what a smart, progressive, on-the-move city it was. Just appalling. Reason enough to never vote for ANY of the folks now in city government.

All of the arrogant and misplaced priorities, from transit to schools to public services to green-at-any-cost agendas sends a message to every resident in this city... "you don't matter so shut up and pay up or get out". It may very well explain the area's sad high school graduation rates that have plummeted over the past 15 years and increasing acts of desperation and violence creeping into all parts of the city.

The City of Roses has turned into the City That's Screws Its People.

Because it is not downtown! We need to have a vital downtown even if it takes every penny of development dollars. And even if it means a new 20-year plan every five years or re-paving every downtown street every year.

We are trying to build Versailles (or an adult Disneyland) here before the peasant taxpayers storm the gates.

Here's another peeve along the lines of street maintenance...

A few years ago when we had one of those big snow-ins, I noticed very little plowing clearing the streets. Where were the plows? I read (I think the WW or Trib) that the city had sold most of them. Why?

And how about the gravel trucks? I read somewhere else that the city had replaced gravelling with an eco-friendly de-icer spray, but that it was so expensive they couldn't use it very many places. The result was much of the city was shutdown for 10 days with many unable to go to work because even buses were barely running and MAX can't seem to handle anything frozen on the tracks (even though European trains seem to handle it fine).

Storms like that happen every 10 to 15 years around here and the city apparently couldn't deal with it anymore.

Portland's motto should be "The City That Used To Work". And it is not outer SE Portland that gets neglected. Have you driven Macadam ave. lately? This is in the heart of big money Portland and it is totally neglected. What should be a showcase is a bumpy, broken, road. Quite shameful.

But there is a pretty tram to look at. I won't be going by streetcar.

Paving roads in urban residential neighborhoods would have cured a lot more "blight" than subsidizing riverview condo-towers (that need to be auctioned off).

Portland needs to stop gambling its property tax base on urban renewal projects and take a break for at least a decade. Turn off the condo-weasel-political-machine and see what happens (can't be worse than keeping it going, right?).

If we restored the property tax base for normal municipal purposes and public education we wouldn't need so many bond measures for education and safety.

Public safety advocates are starting to do the math on these tax give-away's now, but the education establishment is hesitant to turn on urban renewal as long as they can successfully promote local funding elections. That's why it is so important to vote "no" on the bond and local options.

There is no more powerful political interest in Oregon than the teachers unions.
If they can't hypnotize voters with chants of "it's for the children", they will drive urban renewal reforms.

Portland keeps electing these bums, and they continually fleece average Portlanders to subsidize the real estate/construction sharpies or pet projects.

I believe the city is near a tipping point where average Portlanders are unable to afford the rising cost of living. Knowing that suburban flight is their deathknell, CoP's planners are doing their best to create bottlenecks to and from the suburbs to punish those who dare to leave. That's why they oppose any new capacity on the CRC, that's why they created the "Bus Only" lane on northbound Barbur Blvd. as it crosses over I-5, that's SE Tacoma Street was reduced from four lanes to two lanes for eight blocks (now being used at the reason we can't build a bridge with more auto capacity).

The politicians are (at their core): anti-car, anti-sprawl, anti-business, and anti-public participation. They think we work for them, rather than the reverse.

Have you driven Macadam ave. lately? This is in the heart of big money Portland and it is totally neglected.

Macadam Boulevard is a state highway, not a city street. But it's no secret that ODOT does not want a "city street" in its inventory and is just waiting for the right time to hand it over to the City.

And, would you know that the City wants Macadam Boulevard so they can stick a streetcar on it? Hmm...just like...Interstate Avenue which was, before 1996 a state highway. (Now, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and Sandy Boulevard are also former state highways, and so is parts of M.L.K. Boulevard, Naito Parkway, and North Portland Road.)

I agree that there is an apalling lack of maintenance on the paved roads.

But Jack's post was about the unpaved roads, and there was never any obligation taken on the part of the city - nor should there be - to upgrade them with paving, curbs, sidewalks, etc.

The reason they are unpaved is that someone in the past was allowed to develop the area without paying for this necessary infrastructure (some of these areas happened to be in the county at the time, but that's another issue). Buyers purchasing this real estate knew what they were getting into, and presumably the price paid reflected the lack of a paved street.

If homeowners are now wanting paved streets, they should form an LID and pay for it themselves.

Can it be there are no plans to pave the streets because in the Big Plan there won't be a need for vehicle pavement?

Rails, swales, and bike trails?

If the Sellwood Bridge falls down and people are killed and Portland winds up in the world news like Minneapolis a few years ago, there'll be a federal NTSB investigation that I hope goes to the Department of Justice.

I realize waiting for politicians to actually fulfill their campaign promises is a fool's errand, but many politicians over many years have promised to fix this problem, end up doing nothing, and blame it on a lack of money when strangely, there's plenty of money to be found when a developer needs a subsidy or a sports-team owner needs a new stadium.

I only come here to reaffirm I'm not the only one feeling the effects of the insanity, and reiterate the only reason I have not fled is that I cannot yet.

PETE, you have to realize that to the power structure "Portland" is defined as everything from roughly East 65th Ave. westward. (It used to be East 45th westward, but we've had some gentrification in the last decade.)

JOHN RETTING, I agree with your basic premise, but it was irresponsible for the City to annex so much county land without some sort of plan for how they would upgrade it to city standards. They wanted to the tax base, but not the responsibility, which is why outer East Portland is, and always has been, an afterthought at City Hall.

Desperate, you are not alone. I am starting to get the strong feeling that I won't be able to stay in Portland.

I am an Oregon native and was very excited to move back here 10 years ago to "what I know", but I don't recognize this funny farm.

I find it strange to think of all the people moving here because they fell in love with "Portland," and think that this is actually what Oregon, or even Portland itself, is all about.

"If homeowners are now wanting paved streets, they should form an LID and pay for it themselves."

Why didn't OHSU form a LID to pay for their own Tram? Why does the city subsidize it's operating/maintenance costs?

Why didn't Paulson form a LID to pay for his own stadium remodel?

Why didn't Portland Family Entertainment form a LID to pay for their remodel?

Why didn't Portland Center Stage form a LID to pay for their new theater?

Why don't starving artists form a LID to buy the shiatty art that is currently paid for with 2% for Art?

Did we form a LID to pay for the Eastbank Esplanade, $600 million of bikepaths, or Creepy's greenboxes/bike boulevards/salary while vacationing on the public's dime in Europe?

"Limousine liberals", "champagne socialists", etc, there are many different terms from around the world that I think answer many of the "why?"s.

I doubt (de)Forest(ed) Heights street paving was covered by a LID

It's not complicated: available money goes to high-profile, pet projects. Stuff we actually need, we have to reach into our pockets to pay for. It's always been this way, as far as I can tell.

My wife and I couldn't believe it when we moved here either. It was absolutely jaw dropping or jaw breaking(!) how bad some of these streets are in the middle of nice neighbourhoods! It makes absolutely no sense why this hasn't been addressed in the 15 years that I've lived here. I have a friend who lives up in the west hills and he and his neighbours got together and finally paved their lane out of their own pockets. The city wasn't going to do it. Guess what happened? The city went ape sh*t on them and fined them all. Brilliant.

Anything to fleece the public. Pave your own street...NO way!
Any an all independent thinking and initiative will be punished.
And never ever complain or the city goons will come after you with fire inspections, code violations and anything else they can make up to make your life miserable.
Go by street car! What a joke!

Portland is a real estate scam, plain and simple. The amazing thing is how it gets pulled off as some sort of Save-the-Planet Promised Land that seems to attract no end of zealots and gullibles that refuse to accept the truth because it would destroy their faith.

Incredible, actually.

I doubt (de)Forest(ed) Heights street paving was covered by a LID

It wasn't an LID, but as I recall the conditions of the planned unit development made the developer pay for streets, sidewalks, and sewers, and donate a school site and a fire station site.

They did try to fleece some neighbors in adjacent areas along NW Thompson when they extended a water line to the development through parts of the city that weren't included in the PUD, by pushing this infrastructure cost onto their cost of a connection. It had the smell of an LID, but was something like a deferred connection charge that included interest. I don't know how that one played out.

majority of residents in one neighborhood did not want them paved. see


there are lots of advantages of living on an unimproved road. the right of way is much smaller, the traffic speed is much slower. when people are actually faced with losing a few hundred square feet of garden and having people drive by at 30mph in front of their house, they say NO to paving.


You put up the straw man: let me knock him down.

Most people prefer to drive/ride wheeled vehicles on improved roadways or paths. Is there a small minority who prefer to live on unimproved roadways? Sure. Just as there are Portlanders who celebrate living in 365 square foot homes, or show off their road rash to coworkers.

Notably, when the city designs new bike lanes, they aren't using crushed gravel or river rock. They use asphalt.

More importantly, the City of Portland hasn't undertaken a public opinion poll to determine the popularity of paving unpaved streets versus (for example) giving away $100 million dollars to a billionaire's kid to spend on a soccer stadium. Even if there were OVERWHELMING public support to build sidewalks and improve streets/drainage, the current city regulations REQUIRE that an LID be formed so that neighboring residents pay for the improvement.

In short, why is paying for a soccer stadium remodel a greater good than "subsidizing" the improvement of neighborhood streets and sidewalks?

We're not talking peaceful back country dirt or gravel roads here. Most of these unpaved streets look like artillery scarred battlefields with some potholes 6' across and full of water except in summer. I can't imagine the fire bureau relishes trying to get their vehicles through.

Mister Tee,

Small minority? The study was of residents in GENERAL in Woodstock. As in, people in Woodstock don't want their roads improved. Majority... majority.

The city is supposed to serve its residents. The residents don't want the streets paved.

One study -- one neighborhood -- done by students at Portland State? Is that what you're talking about? Laughable.

"The neighbors like it that way" is a typical Portland City Hall lie.

John Rettig, many of those areas with unpaved streets were once in the county. The city of Portland annexed those areas and assumed the responsibility of maintaining the streets no matter if they are paved or not.

Will the city let the local residents maintain those streets themselves ?

Probably not based on an exchange I observed at a neighborhood meeting when some residents asked a city employee about getting the city to help clear an alley of overgrown bushes/trees and to regrade and gravel the alley.
The city employee went on about how the trimming was homeowner responsibility, which I agree with, but that the city had no priority to do any such grading and surface improvements.
The homeowners then asked about doing the work themselves, since one person had access to the equipment and the others were willing to chip in for gravel.
The city response, "oh no you can't do that sort of thing, it's not allowed"
Pretty much left everyone speechless.

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