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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Barbur Boulevard MAX will have tunnel for OHSU

That is, if the government bankruptcies at various levels don't get here first. It's just stupid enough and expensive enough for Portlandia. Linchpin City, baby!

Comments (30)

OOOH! shiny, expensive, STUPID, and! iconic.
I thought the tram (rim shot) was supposed to be the iconic thingy, the Eiffel Tower of Portland? But now all we get is a big dig tunnel like Boston.

Hey, a tunnel AND a tram! (I like to call these sorts of projects "Chimps with Shotguns," because they're exactly like giving loaded firearms to chimpanzees. You're guaranteed to have a horrible mess, and it's pretty likely that someone will get hurt, too.)

Which scion of industry has Portland's boring machine monopoly?

The culture of arrogant corruption in Portland's politics you posted about, and your pointing out that it seriously needs to be watchdogged, seems to trace directly back to TriMet (and MAXX) and Goldschmidt. Public transportation infrastructure was always Neil's thingie. That's where it all started, no? Ram expensive things through whether the people want it or not.

To think we missed the chance to be like this.

"Community support is crucial" so they are quoted as saying but in reality.... they will say they have it whether or not they really do.... damn the taxpayers and those inconvenienced by this expense and exercise in corporate enrichment

It was obvious years ago that what the boys downtown wanted was a hub and spoke system. After the MLR is built then they take the one to Clackamas towne center and extend it to Oregon City somewhere. Then around to Barbur until it goes all the way around the city, which is why the Vancouver link is important. Just wait 40 years from now this will be old technology, but by golly Portland will have the market cornered on it.

By the time this gets close to approval it will be estmiated to cost $1/2 billion/mile and the RailVolution lunatics will be parroting the same rhetoric they do now.

Spending money planning this is a fiscal crime and official malfeasance.

Every one of you Metro and TriMet planners are enemies of the state.

Fast forward to headline from 2015:

"TriMet study 'proves' that Barbur Light Rail isn't feasible without OHSU tunnel"

This is what competent and progressive cities do; analyze problem areas of a city, look for opportunities and propose solutions.

Behold. This is the definitive "birth of a project" Oregonian article of all time. If Portland lasts 1,000 years, you will not see it done any better. This is like looking back at the primordial ooze of bureaucracy and witnessing the beginnings of life. The article doesn't just report on something - it actually serves as an incubator, or a petri dish, while the new life form begins to grow.

In the beginning there is an idea - and I think, right away, we can rule out intelligent design. A few paragraphs in and the idea has turned into a speck of dust. That's quite a description, isn't it? This signifies creation. A speck of dust is a huge leap from just an idea. It's come into existence. Remember, man, that thou art dust. It's biblical.

Next the selling begins as we slide into the happy talk: "A mosaic of planning efforts." That's beautiful. The planners created it and it was good. But there can be no light without darkness - there can be no good without evil - so we get a little uneasy feeling with the phrase, "determining first where the population growth and employment centers should be." Aren't we supposed to decide that?

Something has happened to the dust particle by now. It has floated in the swamp and is now coated with a rich layer of fertilizer. As it begins to get bigger, bureaucratic phrases like "long-term vision", and "cost-effective" start oozing out. My favorite? "The plan will dovetail." I like doves, don't you? They represent peace. The selling continues in ernest with a reminder of how great the zoo tunnel turned out to be.

Then the miracle of life happens. This idea that hadn't even turned into a speck of dust on a desk at the beginning of the article is now here. It has officially crawled out of the swamp and is now roaming the city. The Metro guy says, "It's in the mix." Congratulations, and welcome to Portland.

Naturally we have 18 months of studying before the final decision of what to do with it. That's standard - it'll give our new life form time to grow strong and healthy, while the consultants nourish themselves on its nutrients.

More happy talk: 2 or 3 alternatives will be looked at, but the option of doing nothing - that existed just a few paragraphs up - is already gone: "The timeline calls for federal funding and construction between 2017 and 2023." That doesn't sound like more buses - also mentioned as one of the options. Hmm, what's that leave? Light rail and the new creation? Tunnel vision anyone? We have a new lifeform and we already have a timeline for graduation day.

But what is it? What do you call it?

First, we get one last, little hint about what is coming with a comment about how intriguing the tunnel is and then it happens: "a working group has been formed to oversee the planning, and a community advisory committee will be formed soon to keep an eye on the project."

The project? It's not just in the mix anymore. It's not a speck of dust. It is not just an idea. We have just witnessed the birth of a project. Within this article you have seen the routine and somewhat dubious miracle of planners giving life. Now watch as the budget goes forth and multiplies.

Let's stop all planning now, including all of this pointless and misguided thinking about future transportation needs. As Alan points out, it worked fine in LA ( and Phoenix and much of Florida).

Streetcar Charlie seems rather quiet lately. . might be bad timing on his part to run at this time with this negative focus on the Milwaukie light rail, reminds people what his focus was and how much it has cost our community. Go by streetcar isn't exactly an endearing term these days.

Well, since we already can't afford to maintain what we got, I say this idea is just stupid enough to work!

Oh, and here's the article on all the bad bacteria crap that's on bus seats now that TriMet has scaled back maintenance:

But hey, what's a little oxacillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus between friends, right?

Sounds like a done deal. When's the digging begin?

This is what competent and progressive cities do; analyze problem areas of a city, look for opportunities and propose solutions.

Here's the problem:

1. What is a "problem area"?

2. What defines the "problem area"?

3. What are "opportunities"?

4. The solutions are always the same. Why is light rail always the solution to every problem?

Southwest Portland is hardly a "problem area". Sure, there are issues. Lack of sidewalks, for example. Light rail isn't going to change that. Inconsistent transit access into neighborhoods. Light rail isn't going to fix that. Lack of parks and major businesses. Same thing - light rail won't fix it.

To Portland and its planners, the "problem" is always the same - we need to redevelop. Why? Because according to some person, they don't like how it's currently developed. What about the residents? Southwest Portland already made it clear it didn't want streetcars - therefore the City of Portland removed S.W. from all transportation planning as punishment. Buses work better in the area, but Portland's planners will have nothing of that - it's light rail, or nothing.

There's nothing inherently wrong with detached housing units. There's nothing wrong with the suburbs. According to Portland's planners, those two things are like living in hell...good for them, they can live in the Pearl. Not everyone wants to live in the Pearl. Not everyone likes SoWhat. There's a reason that Portland city limits is only 25% of the Metro area's population - and of that 25%, only 10% lives close into downtown. That leaves 97.5% of the Metro area population as suburbanites.

If we want to talk about how to improve an area, fine. But Portland needs to stop assuming that everything needs redeveloped. Talk to the residents first, not Homer Williams and whatever-his-name-Walsh. They aren't the residents of the city. People who live and work in Portland are the residents. Many of them like their homes in S.W. and elsewhere outside of downtown - why must that change?

What exactly is wrong with it?

Let's stop all planning now, including all of this pointless and misguided thinking about future transportation needs. As Alan points out, it worked fine in LA

As a percentage of trips taken by transit, Los Angeles beats Portland. More trips are taken by transit in L.A. than in PDX.

Interestingly, L.A. and Portland shares one common problem - failure to increase road capacity with demand. I-5 and U.S. 101 in particular through downtown Los Angeles is very constrained, at some points only three lanes in each direction - despite light rail lines, new buses, BRT, and commuter rail - I-5 is still clogged. But when you get to Orange County, the freeway doubles in size...and amazingly, traffic starts to flow normally.

Magoo said a working group has been formed to oversee the planning, and a community advisory committee will be formed soon to keep an eye on the project.

“Community support is comical now,” he said.

Just wait 40 years from now this will be old technology, but by golly Portland will have the market cornered on it.

Problem is the hub-and-spoke transit network concept was obsolete at least 80 years ago.

Jack, you really need to give Bill's comment above its own spot as a post and save it the archives forever. Finest kind, and worth preserving. If the O could only bring that kind of insight to a story once in a while, people might read the O.

Bill has been writing monster material for this blog, time after time, for years. He used to write for Bob Pamplin and get paid for it. Now he does it for me and my readers for free. I've received a lot of honors in my life, but that's right up there.

Always love to read Bill's posts too. :)

Thanks for the kind words.

This is a nostalgic time for a lot of us who've benefited greatly from Jack Bog's Blog. See, we started out here during the tram planning days, so to see the Portland scam machine returning once more to OHSU....well, it's pretty emotional. It's the Planning Circle of Life.

You redo Civic Stadium into PGE Park, and then you return like the Swallows of Capistrano to redo it again and give it to the Paulsons. Maybe after Henry Paulson's fine work with Greece leads to the Fall of Western Civilization, we'll return it to Civic Stadium again so the grand cycle of projects can go on. But that's all just a planner's dream for the future. It's not even the notion of an idea of a speck of dust...not yet anyway.

For now though, we have OHSU. Seeing the Oregonian take these first baby steps in helping to sell this new project, is pretty sentimental for me. I can't help thinking about the glory days of the tram debate. Ahh the memories. Watching the bio-tech jobs drift away into a debate about an immigration jail was a reminder of how fast it all goes by. We should cherish every moment.

I was so young then when the tram came along. I thought the way OHSU was ditching its reputation for medical research in favor of condo development, was beneath them. See, how innocent I was? We were no more than kids. Now we have a tunnel project that would literally be beneath them. It's a lesson: Don't assume you've seen it all. The Planning Circle of Life always has more to give.

Excuse me. I'm getting a little choked up. Ahh, these scams. They grow so quickly, don't they?

Huntington's Red Car did very well with the "Hub and Spoke" concept..........until the subsidies stopped.

Michael....your comment was pure satire, right?

" Don't assume you've seen it all. The Planning Circle of Life always has more to give."

Another recent reveal of madness was the back room plan to fix WES by building two additional dedicated transit tracks for MAX service and adding more stops.

The money is avaialable. It's just sitting there being uses for lesser concerns like police, fire, schools, libaries and maintaining infrastucture.

I know I've either read books or seen movies about this kind of thing... where some authority is maniacally obsessed with completing some big dream project even to the detriment or destruction of those it's meant to benefit.

Oh wait, one of them was "Moby Dick or The Whale" by Melville...

How about "Gullibles Travels or Tales of Portlandia"?*

p.s. ~ Yes, GREAT stuff McDonald! As always. Thanks so much for sharing it with us all this way.

* with a tip of the hat to Ring Lardner.

I love the planner shills coming out and declaring that any opposition to largely unnecessary billion-dollar tunneling projects is a vote for Los Angeles sprawl.

I'm pretty sure there's a middle ground somewhere that doesn't involve 500 square miles of sprawl crisscrossed by 12-lane freeways. Just because the planners can't think of it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Michael - This is what competent and progressive cities do; analyze problem areas of a city, look for opportunities and propose solutions.

You lost us at competent - which is not an adjective directed at very many Oregon politicos these days. The other thing that seems to be missing - rational cost-benefit analysis - not the hype that "50 bazillion people will be moving here because of climate change, blah, blah, blah." As many on this blog point out - Tri-Met could buy a hell of a lot of buses for 1.2 Billion dollars - and as jobs and/or housing ebbed and flowed, bus routes can be adjusted. Light rail, outside of a major earthquake, is forever.

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