This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 17, 2011 8:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Eat your nukes, they're good for you. The next post in this blog is MAX on the Mall. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Say goodbye to Barbur

Currently a high-traffic thoroughfare that works quite well for buses and private motor vehicles, Barbur Boulevard is about to be Blumenauered into oblivion. The Portland city planners are starting the process of "visioning" a very different road, with a $135,000 consulting contract:

The City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is seeking proposals from individuals, firms, teams or consultants... to assist the City in the development of a Concept Plan for the Barbur Corridor from Portland’s Central City to the Tigard city boundary. The focus of the Concept Plan is threefold:

* Identify potential transit station areas with the greatest development and placemaking opportunities;

* Develop a vision for Barbur Boulevard, a highway ‘orphaned’ when I-5 was built; and

* Evaluate alternative transit station areas against watershed health goals and existing investment strategies.

Sounds awful enough -- and then the planner psychobabble begins in earnest. It's like something out of a bad science fiction movie:

The project will evaluate existing land use, circulation, and urban watershed and accessibility patterns within a public-involvement framework to determine the locations of potential station areas with the greatest capacity for development, connectivity, ridership and responsiveness to watershed health. The purpose is to optimize urban land use patterns and engage the community within a multi-agency long-term planning process. Commencing the Concept Plan project prior to the multi-modal transportation and transit infrastructure planning is crucial in ensuring the success of two concurrent projects: the I-5/Barbur Corridor Refinement Plan and the Southwest Corridor High Capacity Transit (HCT) Alternatives Analysis. The corridor refinement plan is tentatively scheduled to begin in mid 2011 and the Alternatives Analysis in late 2011/early 2012. The Concept Plan will set the framework for future comprehensive and zoning map amendments, transportation infrastructure improvements, and watershed management strategies.

This project is a planning level assessment of different land use scenarios, including mode split, trip production, and general capacity in street network, as well as a planning level assessment of Metro's transportation modeling outputs specific to the Barbur corridor. This is not a transportation study.

Whatever it is, it's... well, grotesque. Go by streetcar!

Comments (45)

I for one would love to see a high-speed rail line running from downtown along Barbur out to Tigard/Durham.

Yeah, all those pedestrians who get killed out there should have been driving anyway.

Except that Barbur is the primary route between downtown and Lewis & Clark, is backed up with traffic all the time, and is highly unsafe for bikers - I've had cars tailgate me while biking on the shoulder along the bridges. A girl was hit and killed there just last December; there's much that could be done to make it safer.

"Welcome to Portland. You WILL ride a train, godammit!"

"Barbur is backed up with traffice all the time..."

I have commuted on Barbur Blvd since 1994. It's almost always a better choice than I-5 during peak commuter hours. During non-peak hours, there is very little congestion until you get to the Tigard Fred Meyer or (on the weekends) the elevated section bypassing Tigard's old downtown.

As for riding to L&C, the section of Terwillinger south of Barbur Blvd is far more dangerous to cyclists or pedestrians than is Barbur Blvd.

Caveman may be prescient. A MAX line to Tigard! What a great idea. Maybe $2 billion? $2.5 billion? And it will bring workers and customers mainly to downtown Portland. The downtown business owners are getting evven more excited.

Commuters into Portland will be looking for work outside of Portland, and investors will probably build it for them to avoid the exorbitant cost of doing business in DreamCity.

I believe Powell is next. Perhaps conincidentally, at this very moment some major work looks to be starting up at the corner of SE 39th and Powell. Lanes are closed off, the intersection is shut down with a half dozen or more flaggers, and there are paint lines all over the place. The traffic lines are already backing up. Maybe though, it's just another make-work project.

Here's comes another monstrous traffic congestion mess in need of federal dollars to "correct".

Yes, by God! You WILL ride the train! or ride a bike, even if you can't walk.
Cars will be outlawed on all streets at all times. Except for Sam who needs his truck for trysts at the mall parking lot!
Let's make the cops and the firemen go by trike too! How about taxis...want to get rid of those?
What expensive and needless idiocy. Jim Karlock is right on this; the planners are the scourge of our society right now.

Why is a certain (and very small) segment of society in Portland so bent on destroying Portland. This has to stop! One can hope we elect some sane people as leaders here in Portland in 2012...but considering most sane people are leaving the city it's probably not going to happen.

Dear City of Portland, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability,

I was overjoyed to learn that the City has found some extra money lying around to implement "visioning" process in my neighborhood. I was wondering if it might be possible for the City to also "envision" paving the gravel roads in our neighborhood, perhaps filling some of the toddler-swallowing potholes in our streets and - dare I dream? - installing a few sidewalks? Thus when the Shining Station Area on a Hill arises on Barbur Blvd, well inside a quarter-mile "walk bubble" from my home, my family and I will be able to travel there using a city-approved modes of travel (bike, walk) without taking our lives into our own hands.

Thank you.

You're joking or you're an idiot.
Any rail down Barbur/99 would ruin the boulevard corridor with eye sore rail infrastructure causing much worse congestion and runaway spending on TODs.
Barbur/99 does not go to Durham.
None of this planning is needed at all and is complete waste of tax money to keep bureaucrats busy interfering with people lives.

Our low speed low capacity MAX, WES and streetcars are a sham and disgrace.

Don't the sheep eventually get dizzy from being led around like this?

Everything old is new again-- the Oregon Electric route to Tigard and beyond ran over what is now I-5 and Multnomah Blvd. Not quite Barbur, but close enough.

At the dawn of the Vietnam War, on his way out of office President Eisenhower famously tried to warn the nation of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex", as he put it.

Portland seems to have fallen firmly into the grip of an "urban planning-industrial complex" which, like a multi-tentacled monster, has a life of its own that must devour in order to survive.

One of the important purposes of government is to tell people what they must or must not do. The purpose of big business is not to be a public service but to make as much money as possible without going to prison.

Contrary to what those who don't like to think for themselves would like to believe, putting the two together does not and cannot result in the public good.

"Identify...placemaking opportunities."

Wow! "Placemaking opportunities."
If that isn't money-spending planner-speak, I don't know what is!

"Any rail down Barbur/99 would ruin the boulevard corridor with eye sore rail infrastructure causing much worse congestion and runaway spending on TODs.
Barbur/99 does not go to Durham."

I think the OP was referring to Durham Road, which intersects with Highway 99W in King City.

Regardless, MAX on Barbur is a mistake and a huge one. Barbur serves a very important role as a reliever for I-5 and as such as remained in the state highway system and has not been turned over to the City. There are no other reliever routes in the area; further I-5 was designed specifically with fewer on/off-ramps, forcing local traffic to remain on Barbur (many of the interchanges are not full interchanges - for example, to go northbound on I-5 from Terwilliger or Multnomah Boulevards, one must continue on Barbur all the way to Capitol Highway. To access Capitol Highway from I-5 north you must use the Barbur exit.)

99W south of I-5 at the Portland/Tigard city line is the single busiest five-lane road in the entire state of Oregon with over 50,000 vehicles per day. A very large percentage of traffic simply would not convert to MAX; while MAX would eliminate two lanes of traffic, creating a huge nightmare of traffic entering/exiting Tigard. And there is nowhere else for that traffic to go - Portland would impose traffic hell on Tigard.

Bus Rapid Transit, in mixed-traffic and dedicated queue-jumper lanes, plus various corridor improvements (namely, a center median and prohibiting most left turns) would do wonders to improve traffic AND increase transit accessibility; BRT would cost no more than $25 million (with 100% new, dedicated, articulated hybrid vehicles) and light-rail like bus stops. That won't even pay for one mile of MAX track.

The best light rail solution would have been to use the old Oregon Electric Railway grade from Portland (essentially Barbur Boulevard to Multnomah to Garden Home, then to Washington Square, Tigard and Tualatin); however WES was built eliminating the use of much of that route. A second idea, although horrendously more expensive, would be a MAX route from the Tigard TC, passing through existing shopping centers and parking lots north, crossing over Highway 217 at the south end of the 99W interchange, then between 99W and Costco using the current frontage road, then stopping with a stop at the Tigard Cinemas parking lot, then into a tunnel that would have stops at PCC Sylvania, Barbur TC, Multnomah Village, Hillsdale and OHSU before emerging at the foot of 6th Avenue near the former Metro YMCA center. This option would completely separate MAX from 99W and serve existing transit-friendly neighborhoods; however Portland would be opposed to it since it would function more like a subway from downtown Portland all the way to Tigard (and be above-ground within Tigard). Again...this would cost $100 million or more a mile, or well over a billion dollars - BRT, $25 million total.

But Portland only wants to look out for developers as MAX is developer-oriented transit. The costs of traffic congestion forced upon Tigard residents will never be counted, because Portland simply doesn't care. It'll be Tigard residents who'll pay the ultimate price in reduced livability, reduced transportation options, reduced bus service, and pollution. We suffered long enough through the construction of 99W for just a couple blocks between 217 and Greenburg...imagine three years of construction tying up Oregon's busiest five lane road, while reducing capacity at the same time...

We are fortunate to live in a city where there are people with vision who dare suggest and propose improvements to our growing city. Does anyone really think Barbur is without flaws and could not be improved greatly? Does it really serve the local neighborhoods it traverses fully; those who do use bicycles, or walk? Why not a study so ideas can be brought forth and debated. I applaud our planners and elected officials who work to improve our cities built environment.

Gosh, I can hit Barbur with a stone from my front porch.

A year after I moved in, the Barbur-Hamilton intersection was unnecessarily rebuilt "because the money was available" and as far as most people are concerned, it screwed up traffic. Crossing on Hamilton, you sometimes have to wait two light cycles, and it's not a straight shot ("because intersections have to meet perpendicularly").

The redesign caused nothing but headaches for me as all the physical impediments preventing motorists from turning up my street (designated as an exit only) were removed. This resulted in a traffic count of ~100 vehicles a day entering illegally (even after a trooper stationed himself to cite violators), but the city claimed there was no problem, and merely put up signs. (Signs don't work folks!) It took 10 years for the city to even attempt to address the problem.

The only thing Barbur really needs is to have the traffic signals synchronized. particularly at Capitol highway, but getting Portland to consider traffic flow in addition to "traffic calming" is a non-starter it seems.

Expect the worst, and don't expect to have your concerns acknowledged.

Michael, most everyone understands and appreciates solid planning. It is necessary and useful.

The problem in Portland is that we seem to be constantly planning and visioning the future to such an overextent that there seems to be no regard to taking care of the present. All at great expense.

Fix the potholes, fix the bridges, fix the schools, fund public safety, then talk about Barbur Blvd.

Massive new transfer of public assets to private sector in... three...two...one....

I've been wondering about developable bits created by all that work between I5 and Barbur. What made-up by ad agency names will those new "neighborhoods" be called? Which of the usual suspects will get paid to fill them with condos? Where are the jobs they imagine these additional condo-dwellers will be doing?


The feds do not have and will not have any bucks for construction, now, 10 years from now, or 40 years from now.

Milwaukie Light rail is the end.

Fiscal reality.

The numbers for downtown to Sherwood Max light rail are in the back rooms being touted as in the $ 5 - 6 BILLION range.

It ain't gonna' happen.

Michael, that sounds very nice to do "a study so ideas can be brought forth and debated."

But that's not what Portland planning is. They already know the outcome, in this case, a MAX line to Tigard. The community has next to no influence on Portland Planning. They'll call some public meetings, and laud the citizens who agree with the predetermined outcome, and marginalize and dismiss those who don't. In the end, neither supporters or critics have any impact.

The MAX line to Tigard has long been proposed (and that is what this study is about). It has been on Metro maps for many years. And therefore it will come, whether the public likes it or not.

I would invite any believer in the power of light rail to "improve" a street to try to drive up or down Interstate when it is even moderately busy.

It it possible that just for one week, even one week, to lay back on the bombardment of this plan and the next plan, and the next!! Stop already before we have to deal with more crazy making and more money for this and that, we cannot afford basics here!!
Hello, what is so wrong with this picture?

Having witnessed the before-and-after of every rail transit project in the Portland area over the past 25 years, one could get the impression that it's not so much about aiding the movement of people, but rather of restricting it.

Assuming the metastasizing money-loser of surface light-rail can ever be financially sustainable and actually continue running without service cutbacks and outages, in the end you'll only be able to get around at the time of day the transit agency says you can, you'll only be able to go to and from the places the transit agency says you can go, and it will cost you whatever they want to charge you for the privilege of being allowed to go anywhere at all.

We are fortunate to live in a city where there are people with vision who dare suggest and propose improvements to our growing city. Does anyone really think Barbur is without flaws and could not be improved greatly? Does it really serve the local neighborhoods it traverses fully; those who do use bicycles, or walk? Why not a study so ideas can be brought forth and debated

Michael, the problem is that nobody is truly "studying" the problem.

Metro wants light rail, plain and simple. There is nothing to study; the "study" is window dressing so as to go through the motions; but the end-result is already defined. Build MAX.

Let's have an honest study. Let's remove the Metro planners from having a say in the matter. Let's let the stakeholders - the residents, businesses and road users - have a say. I used to get off a bus on Barbur north of I-5 and had to sprint across five lanes of traffic because there was absolutely no safe way to otherwise cross the road; I was given nothing but the runaround as to why anyone could do it. TriMet blamed the City. The City blamed ODOT. ODOT blamed TriMet. I don't care who the F@#*$'s problem it is - it's a problem, FIX THE DAMN THING!

No, Barbur isn't perfect. But light rail is sure to cause problems, without fixing the real problems. So let's have an honest study...or, as the popular saying goes, let's have an adult conversation. None of this Metro bullcrap that "We're going to have light rail or we're going to deny you regional transportation funds", or Portland's version of "if you don't want Streetcar, we're going to exclude you" (Which, by the way, is exactly what Portland did with the city's transportation plan. When SW leaders rejected streetcar proposals, the City simply left off all of Southwest Portland from the plan - instead of coming up with a non-streetcar proposal like better bus service.)

Can we have an honest, adult conversation about Barbur - one that is NOT premeditated by a light rail threat? One in which TriMet/Metro/Portland is fully and honestly open and willing to accept alternatives which may include no streetcar/light rail, and there is to be absolutely no childish threats about "light rail must be part of the project or we won't fund (fill in the blank)".

downtown to Sherwood Max

Sherwood absolutely, positively does not need a MAX line.

Lighten up guys. Shoplifters, panhandlers and gang bangers should have easy access to all the suburbs, Tigard and Sherwood included. I think that's what the new PDX bureau of equity is all about.

Say "goodbye" to Barbur? Gladly. I can hit Barbur with a stone from my front porch, too. How can anyone think this unsafe, ugly, nasty, stressful five-lane single-mode travesty is some worth 'saving'? Oh right. Those of you in your cars on your way to somewhere else and just... cant... get... there... fast... enough... right through my neighborhood.

Better protection for peds/bikes? Absolutely. BRT? Yes. Rail? Possibly. Fewer cars going way too fast? I hope so. Cn't think it could hurt to have a look at the possibilities.

Is it my top spending priority? No. That Sellwood bridge has 'future disaster' written all over it.

"Barbur is backed up"

So is I-5 by the Rose Garden. An extra lane might help both situations. And I don't mean bike lanes.

Barbur is the federal designated escape route if disaster hits central city and I-5 is shut down or clogged. Put a max line there and you choke off the escape route. At least the thugs will be able to move about for looting.

for example, to go northbound on I-5 from Terwilliger or Multnomah Boulevards, one must continue on Barbur all the way to Capitol Highway.

Incorrect: Multnomah Blvd. dumps directly onto I-5 north. Terwilliger also has a northbound ramp.

But as Snards correctly notes,The MAX line to Tigard has long been proposed (and that is what this study is about). It has been on Metro maps for many years. And therefore it will come, whether the public likes it or not.

Just like Milwaukie loot rail.

Mr. Grumpy:...in the end you'll only be able to get around at the time of day the transit agency says you can, you'll only be able to go to and from the places the transit agency says you can go, and it will cost you whatever they want to charge you for the privilege of being allowed to go anywhere at all.

It is here already, Mr. Grumpy.
Not a "written regulation" yet anyway, but it is happening that certain times of the day, it is almost prohibitive to get out on the roads, as it is gridlock. ....so in essence the control of our lives when we can go or not as a result of their "plans" are already in place.

Have to end my comments as I am already almost too late to get out and away from the traffic mess created by the "smart ones."

Barbur an escape route? Sure... like N. Interstate, E Burnside, the soon-to-be-useless MLK/Grand ... if you can ride a bike fast enough.

Only motorcyclists will have a chance.

Did you love the news about the LR Train hopping it's track at the station house , trapping ALL of the train fleet , hmm , they went to shuttle busses !
This route needs BRT not Rail , creating more flexibility.

It continues to amaze me how many people stubbornly refuse to take off their ideologic blinders for fear of their faith being shaken and who keep insisting that heavy-handed government working in backroom partnerships with big business interests is for the public's benefit.

Well, I'm back, I made it through the traffic before the gridlock began. Whew!!

Come on friends let's remember how stupid & dishonest these planners and their politicians are.

Need yet another demonstration?

How about adding a $1.9 billion MAX along side WES. No joke!

The current Lake Oswego Steetcar, Milwaukie Light Rail and CRC/Light Rail campaigns, along with plans to cram light rail on Barbur are more than enough.

But take look at this this and realize the severity of the madness & corruption is far beyond anything the mentor Goldschmidt ever dreamed about.


The Regional Transportation Plan has called for WES service to be expanded to 15-minute all-day service, but given the steep operating cost of WES, and the need for the Portland and Western to move freight on the tracks, this may have difficulties as well.
How difficult?
The detailed analysis contained in the evaluation report (see pp 157-159 for the summary) included the following comments:

" If you are going to building two additional dedicated tracks for transit service; tracks which will be separate from freight operations--why would you choose commuter rail over light rail? Even if you were to maintain long stop spacing, similar to what WES offers today, I have a hard time thinking of any technical reasons why operation of WES-style commuter trains over dedicated tracks would pose any advantages over light rail vehicles.
The whole point of WES-style vehicles is they can run on existing active freight lines; but the downside is that they are subject to FRA regulations, which are demonstrably unfriendly to transit operations. And the Beaverton/Wilsonville corridor would benefit from additional stops along the way, particularly at places like Bridgeport and Washington Square, where the current tracks don't go but a new light rail line could.
Light rail lines along this corridor could also through-run to Portland or Hillsboro along the existing Westside tracks, or switch to the Southwest Corridor, if the latter is built as LRT. But the downside of doing this is the cost: Right now, adding two additional tracks in the corridor is pegged to cost about $1.9 billion--and given that this is a planning estimate, I suspect it's on the low side. The corridor is nearly twice as long as Milwaukie-Portland, and while such a project wouldn't include any bridges on the scale of the OMSI-SoWa crossing, one crossing of the Tualatin would be needed."

We need to change our strategy here, we aren't going anywhere but getting more and more of the same. Many of us know this is not really about transporting people efficiently, etc. but it is about the housing by the tracks. So we need to come up with another name for light rail, it just sounds too official and positive. I have to head out once again, sure hope I can avoid the gridlock, may come back later with names, but meanwhile, maybe Ben or others can come up with something.....

"The choo choo housing train"
"The Heavy Housing Rail"

Hey Michael,
Did you author that latest piece of crap from the (un) planning department?
If you did, or even if you did not, why don't you move someplace else and infect that city for a while?

Outrageous misplacement of priorities. Barbur Blvd is a fabulous road and the only way I EVER venture into SW.

These planner parasites should go live in hurricane/tornado country and rebuild, and quit wasting our money on these travesties they call "placemaking".

Put in some indoor tennis courts! Indoor soccer arenas! Ping pong centers! Public dance venues! Snooker halls! Pools! The public needs activities, fun, and efficient ways to get around, not placemaking.

Barbur Blvd is a fabulous road and the only way I EVER venture into SW.

I rather like that road as well. The hillside trees and greenery. Suppose they want to redo all that and put hillside condos in the "green" hills.

That is the problem isn't it, they need to take down any remnant that is part of the nice "City of Roses" we once had. Can't have that now, can we, only "their redo" version until we no longer recognize our city.

This redo has created way too much chaos in some neighborhoods and negative impacts, they just can't leave places untouched by their supposedly "smart stuff."

If its inside 181st I don`t go
F*** down town
permits just do it if you can

One honest evaluation if Barbur deserves lightrail is to compare it to North Interstate which now has lightrail. They are both State Hwy 99 streets helping to connect our state to the rest of the nation. They were once very similar.

Now, travel down Interstate with its serpentine lightrail. The once four lane boulevard that moved traffic well, accommodated trucks, their turning requirements, is now just a one lane obstacle course. Sometimes lightrail is on your left, then right, zig-zagging around. Traffic signals are everywhere, where sometimes you don't know which ones are for vehicles, for lightrail, or bike riders or pedestrians. When you come to a major cross street intersection you are totally puzzled which way to go. Traffic backs up with no outlets, passing lanes.

Lightrail on Interstate was to bring economic development. Zoning density was increased, sometimes 5 blocks back. TOD's and all kinds of other tax subsidies have been given. But where is the development. And more importantly, who wants it?

Others can add to the comparison, and what it may mean for Barbur. Interstate is a failure. Why make Barbur a failure?

I've used Barbur for 63 years, and have lived very near it for almost 40 years. What many posters have said about the planning mistakes of putting lightrail on Barbur are mostly true.

I even lament the planning costs now being spent. I'm hoping that some of tonight's election results will minimally cause a pause. And then the 2012 regional elections will express what I think is more of the majorities opinion of region-wide planning and transportation issues.

The Clackamas Co. petition partially concerning the use of urban renewal for Milwaukie Lightrail that may be on this Novembers ballots will help begin a better assessment of what the public really feels. That is why I strongly advocate voting on more major region-wide issues, because the politicians and bureaucrats haven't been listening.

I live near Interstate and I can attest that I never, ever, ever, use that road to get around. Shudder the thought. I would need to have an Edgar allen Poe short story audiotape going to endure it.

Erik H. (and perhaps others):

Tigard's participation in this process has already begun. This upcoming public meeting is an early opportunity to voice your opinions about local priorities and impacts. Hope you'll head over there and speak your mind. Metro and Tigard staff will be present and captive.

Clicky Web Analytics