This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 14, 2011 9:07 AM. The previous post in this blog was New face card at Portland parks. The next post in this blog is Paying for Vera's mistakes. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, October 14, 2011

Portland streetcar insanity just won't stop

When you try to explain it to the average person, they won't believe what you tell them. It's that crazy.

If only the inevitable Tri-Met bankruptcy would come sooner, rather than later, maybe this region would have some money left over to re-create a local economy when the recession wears off. Alas, that probably isn't going to happen. And so our shiny trains to nowhere will probably rust out before there's any work to commute to on them. Sorry, kids.

Comments (34)

"Innovation Quadrant planning district"?

Tri-Met threatening to sue communities unless they cough up monies for projects they don't want because elected officials signed a contract?

Somebody wake me up.

So sorry Mr. Grumpy, you are NOT having a bad dream. This is reality!
Monetary taxing districts are set up just to collect more money for failed projects. The small businesses just getting by will probably not be able to pay, and may even be forced to go out of business, resulting in more lost jobs.
But who cares? The mystery train will be running anyway...empty!

That's a scary phrase: Partner agencies.
Here could be one of the ways they try to rustle up a few bucks:

An old friend of mine recently ventured in from out of town with his wife to see his wife's young granddaughter who was performing in a play that ran for 3 weeks at the Performing Arts Center.
I went myself thinking how crazy it would be, as I walked through Occupy Portland, to say, "Stop the revolution. I must get to a matinee at the theater."
Anyway, their visit was somewhat marred by a fare inspector on MAX. Apparently they went out of the fareless zone by a stop or whatever and the tickets they had bought earlier were expired.
Rather than accept their explanation - innocent out-of-towners making a tiny mistake - the fare inspector slapped them with a ticket for over 300 dollars, and then got in their face offering to call the Portland Police.

His wife said that at one point the inspector pointed at my friend and said sarcastically, "Is he an adult?" My friend is in his late 50s and is - if you go strictly by IQ testing - a genius. I'm talking an IQ of 170. No kidding.

So they turned visitors who had been staying at hotels here for 3 weekends, by the way, into lifelong opponents of the government of Portland.

A ticket for over 300 bucks? I wish the City Council had to pay a 300 fine every time they screwed up. We could build a train to Mars.

Unfortunately TriMet will never go bankrupt. The state will allow it to keep raising payroll taxes to fund its pork and pensions. In the end, we'll have 5 MAX lines, 5 bus lines, and $5 billion in pension obligations.

...In the end, we'll have 5 MAX lines...

Double that it Streetcar Charlie gets in!

I still think much is coming to a screeching halt, he knows it and wants back in as Mayor for a "government position" now.

Hales would continue with as much of "his vision" as he could, the last time around, his plans destroyed some neighborhoods. Now he wants back in to do more "fixing" - oh no, not more of him again!

Too bad Tribune's Redden didn't report the configuration of the latest $52 Million SW Moody trolley/MLR move (as pictured in Jack's link), even though it was built just 4 years ago.

The approx. 100 ft move of this conflagration to the west comprises a 43 ft. width of two one way bike trails, a separated pedestrian path, and a 15 ft wide sidewalk on the east side. It gets better, only two 12 ft lanes are dedicated to vehicles. All the rest is dedicated to lightrail/trolley. The ratio works out to be 1/3rd to vehicles, 2/3rds to peds/bikes/mass transit.

It gets even better. Mass transit/bike/ped use in SoWhat is averaging only about 7% of all trips in the URA, even though PBOT dreams that there will be 40% use. The math doesn't work! 93% is by vehicles but only 33% is given to the only major north/south street serving the whole SoWhat.

Why do we have Planners/traffic engineers and bureaucrats perpetuating the "hate vehicle" at the cost of most of our citizens, especially at such a high differential?

Of course the story has it all wrong about the so-called binding committments.

If Clackamas County voters make it impossible for the county to hand over their share. TriMet will have no possible way to force payment out of the county.

Many would find any effort to do so a welcomed stunt that would backfire.

The streetcar was not inluded in the PMLR so TriMet is gearing up to make rail transit cross that bridge in the event PMLR gets scaled back.

There's no authentic oppostion in Portland to this plan B because the streetcar already serves SoWa to PSU. With adding the streetcar to the new bridge the SoWa connetion to SE, OMSI and the Eastside streetcar would be essentialy the same as PMLR over the bridge.

So stop the BS TriMet and admit you haven't the slightest idea on how to pay for your future and that you MUST scale back your madness.

This plan B is as golden an opportunity as you will every have.
Saving $100 million in your own future operations revenue alone.

Didn't even CPI advocate that it made sense to connect Streetcar across the new transit bridge?

You betcha.


Now that TriMet is moving in that direction the masses need to slam them with e-mails demand they save the $1.2 billion.

That's great, but it strikes me as about as insincere if not more so than their sudden desire to save the Plane trees.

There is a scene in "Trading Places" that comes to mind.
It's the one where Eddie Murphy's character is surrounded by cops pointing guns at him in the Heritage Club.

"Is there a lawyer in the house?"

Well, is there?

You're right Jack, I'm an average guy and I can't believe this has gone this far.

"$12 million from the Oregon Department of Justice"?
"Attorneys advising the commission and council agree, warning that TriMet could sue the local governments if they don’t provide the money."?

This seems like collusion and extortion to me.

And yet it goes on, in plain sight.

I remember how involved and hard dedicated individuals worked on the two Adams recalls and yet we really got nowhere - but we tried. Average Joes&Jills feeling we could do SOMETHING and worked at it, collecting signatures, talking w/neighbors, exposing the fraudulent homophobic ruse as a marketing ploy - to no avail.

This fleecing, this outright extortion of the citizenry, however, is beyond this average Joe's reach.

How does one take this on - for real? Is there some way - through LEGAL MEANS to address this criminal activity.

If the Average Jill or Joe knew WHERE to start - how to approach this blatant extortion by the powers that be - hell, we don't even know who they are - we get hints, G-E, Homer, Dame etc, and the shills that are the sock puppets we are given the "choice" to "vote" for - the one's who lie through their teeth to get voted in - and as we've already seen - can't be recalled . . .

If anyone want's to know the "why" of the Occupy Movement - this is the worm in the subconscious of the collective, that's there's NOTHING the average Joe CAN DO.

I'm on the bottom economically - I work for myself as an IC courier. I run vital meds from the major warehouses in the Metro area - to nursing homes up and down the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Ashland.
I do this because I get satisfaction from providing a needed service and I enjoy driving.
However, the margin for profit has been continually shrinking over the last 5 years - to the point that all I do is generate a cash flow. My net profit for last year was less than the raises recently given to the attorneys working for the people? in Salem. This year, I'd have been better off on the dole. I drive more than I ever did - 60 hrs+ a week - the work is there, for now, but at 58 there is no light at the end of the tunnel. No Hope.
I can't imagine what a 25 year old feels - who doesn't have any resources behind him/her.

I'm told to work harder - get better skills - better myself. In this rapidly declining standard of living I'm outta gas, and yes, I know my decisions in my past etc, etc, however, I grew up in a "blue collar" manufacturing town believing my job at Ford would always be there - it was for those who went before me.

I write this because I'm tired of being labeled a slacker, loser, because I don't fit into the "new economy" and protest against the down-sizing of America. I'm doing the best I can - I'm not a bad person.

Maybe Malthus was right - we seem to be headed in that direction.

I hope and pray it doesn't become too violent.

"Takers get the honey,
givers sing the blues"

Robin Trower

Lee, believe it or not, I believe one of the double tracks being put down now is also temporary. Eventually the returning direction is going to be going down Porter (I think) once there's new streets and development going on in the future OHSU campus down there. Good news for motorists is you won't have two directions of streetcar on just that one street and I think they either gain a travel or parking lane.

Aaron, your "(I think)" is not confirmed by the planners.

But what is most consternating to most on this 93% vs 7% usage split is the reception citizens get when pointing this out. It is like "hate speech" to the Planners and Bureaucrats to mention it. Then they don't respond.

Many citizens are catching on, and finally speaking up, but the "official response" is deafness with a tinge of hate. Why? I always felt government should be neutral and listen in a democracy.

The only real solution is to get Washington and Clackamas Counties out of TriMet and Metro - then the City of Portland will have its hands tied with these so-called "regional transportation" projects.

The problem is that Metro (who controls the purse strings) have all but bribed (or is it blackmailed?) certain officials in Clackamas County and Washington County in that if the suburban areas let a light rail line get built, that there'll be money to spread. No light rail, no money.

Why do you think Sherwood is getting money for a bike path from Metro? Because they want light rail (well, the city, not necessarily the residents.) Look at how much attention Tigard and Tualatin are getting with projects now that they have embraced WES. But Cornelius is getting the shaft as is Oregon City and Troutdale.

I went to a meeting here in Tigard not too long ago and most of the Metro folks didn't even want to talk to me. One of the consultants was happy to and he said he has heard a LOT of people - especially in Washington County - want to break away from TriMet and form more local, more resident-responsive transit agencies, as four Clackamas County cities have done (and one other community, Damascus, has simply broken off from TriMet; and Boring is in the process of doing so too.) North Plains, Banks and Gaston currently have their own transit through a non-profit organization and thus no local tax dollars are used. But for those of us who put up with TriMet, it's "TriMet's Way, damned you citizens be..."

Well, I think I saw a rendering of the future campus with streetcar going down the street nearest the river. And the note on this drawing. Maybe it's Bond?



(Looks like for some reason I thought Porter was running N/S...)

Aaron, thanks for helping make lw's point. Your attachment shows the amount of space for vehicles is even less than 1/3.

The new Moody cross section adds up to 76 ft. in width with only 11 ft given to vehicles, or at best with two lanes for vehicles at 22 ft. Either way, that is only 1/7th to 1/3 of total street for vehicles, even if Porter ever becomes a mass transit street. I thought planners said there would never be any on-street parking along SW Moody.

Aaron, sorry, that should of been "Lee's point".

Well, I'm not sure what this metric of total width/vehicle space is supposed to inform. If I measured out SR-500 in Vancouver for its footprint versus usable car lane space I might come to the conclusion that it's only giving 50% to cars.

I re-read that article and I thought that raising that whole section of Moody (3200 ft) was about $65M (got that from a PDOT WEBsite before they took it down.)

I'm still not getting why we needed to raise it 15 feet in the air and mess with the riverbank.

They're raising it to make it so they can connect to the new bridge at street level. And to be able to have underground parking in future development without having to dig up that nasty super-contaminated Zidell dirt.

And another reason given for moving and raising SW Moody and it's mostly mass transit/bike/ped profile is that there's a maximum slope grade for the rails allowed as the lightrail ramps up to the bridge. Then the bridge has to be at enough height to allow for ship traffic. And the new bridge height being too low has even been a bone of contention.

The additional land added to OHSU and other properties by moving Moody to the west hasn't been compensated for. I wonder if they'll ever be billed. Most others would.

The adjacent property owners are certainly being compensated nicely for the two benefits of additional under-building parking above the flood plane and less DEQ remediation requirements.

Can someone please explain to me why Oregon Dept of Justice is funding this project??

I believe that SW Moody will be the escape route for any loose illegal aliens coming from the ICE Jail in SoWhat. So that justifies the money from ODJ.

LW - ha! or maybe they wanted to hold a press conference on the elevated portion.
But in all seriousness, it makes no sense.

Think we would have a very long list of what makes no sense around here!

Won't stop in my opinion until we stop the web of power tentacles and insider game!

Makes sense once you realize they can't issue the ban on private motor vehicle operation until they have the desired alternative in place. Hence the rob-the-cradle approach to get it done we are witness to.

If we're counting roads that are being screwed up on purpose to make driving cars more uncomfortable and to entice bikes and pedestrians, include Hwy. 43 between Pdx and LO. Clackamas Co. is spearheading the planning and design of a bicycle path along the route.

Why Clack. Co. Is taking this on is anyone's guess. My guess is that former CC Commissioner Lynne Peterson, who is now a transportation policy advisor to Gov. Kitzhaber passed this project that deals with a state hwy. on to her old buddies in CC. Considering how much of the hwy. Iies within unincorporated CC or in any part of CC -- I find this very strange indeed.

If/when one lane is converted to bike travel, you can bet auto traffic will be impacted. Without an extra lane for express busses or passing traffic, I guess we will then NEED a streetcar to transport people after all. Screw up the roads as a way to justify light rail? Who buys this stuff? And who elected the planners who are in the forefront of this parade?

Nolo:...you can bet auto traffic will be impacted. Without an extra lane for express busses or passing traffic, I guess we will then NEED a streetcar to transport people after all. Screw up the roads as a way to justify light rail? Who buys this stuff?...

The devious schemes are so transparent, I don't think most people buy this stuff. This may be an example of 1% want and 99% pay. We pay not just in money, but in so many ways, our livability, our frustrations with this 1% lock-down on decisions and control over the rest. How much longer can this continue? We are past even the appearances of democracy, and faced with blatant disregard for the public.

The devious schemes are so transparent, I don't think most people buy this stuff. This may be an example of 1% want and 99% pay.

We need a new "Occupy" movement. Take over TriMet and Metro offices, and shut down the MAX and Streetcar systems.

We are the 99% - we are the 99% that pays taxes, and have places to go, yet it's the 1% at TriMet and Metro (and the City of Portland) that shove these rail projects down our throats, giving huge kickbacks to the various big companies that build these lines and benefit from the development tax breaks. We are the 99% that gets stuck with worse traffic, fewer traffic lanes, worse bus service, and dealing with the holier-than-thou bicyclists' "we have right of way!" mentality.

In fact...if you look at the trip mode share...MAX is just 1% of trips taken in our region. Yet, MAX gets far more than 1% of the transportation funding in the region - especially when you count the value of the tax credits given to developers who build along the MAX line - that's money that is taken away from OUR schools, OUR fire departments, OUR police departments, OUR libraries, OUR parks - and often times WE, the 99 percenters, have to pay HIGHER TAXES to make up for the lost revenue given to out-of-state developers who laugh their asses off all the way to the bank.

Regarding Nolo's comments on Hwy 43 becoming a major bike lane, who in the heck is running our State? Why are we letting Portland dictate?

43 is a major state highway, historical, serving far beyond Portland, serving many interests, and it has limited capacity unless were willing to excavate hillsides for three miles to accommodate the 29 bike trips each rush hour.

ODOT, State government get your act together. Represent the state and not a few pols and 23 bureaucrats who formulated an edict in their own minds.

The five governmental agencies, when they bought the railroad ROW from Portland to LO along the river, all declared they (really WE, taxpayers are payed for it)were buying it for a possible walking, bike, possible a trolley combined corridor. Now those same types of bureaucrats want to take over 43. Deplorable. Conniving. Stop it.

....unless were willing to excavate hillsides for three miles to accommodate the 29 bike trips each rush hour....

Please, don't tell me that is what they would be planning to do!
Why can't they just stop, leave what remnants of nice areas are left.

Did not like seeing those hillsides of trees by Barbur Boulevard taken. Those trees on that hillside were such a lovely part of our city.

The web of power and the tentacles of Portland have gone too far.

43 is a major state highway, historical, serving far beyond Portland, serving many interests

Actually, 43 was the original route for the Pacific Highway East. It was replaced in the 1930s by the current Highway 99E, a.k.a. McLoughlin Boulevard. I wouldn't say that Highway 43 (a.k.a. Oregon Highway 3) is currently a major route nor does it constitute a current highway of statewide importance. Other State Highways have been turned over to local jurisdictions - specifically Highway 10, U.S. 30 Business, Oregon 99W and 99E north of downtown, U.S. 26 through Gresham, just to name a few.

The five governmental agencies, when they bought the railroad ROW from Portland to LO along the river, all declared they (really WE, taxpayers are payed for it)were buying it for a possible walking, bike, possible a trolley combined corridor.

The problem lies in the fact that the Portland-Lake Oswego rail line, a.k.a. the Willamette Shores Trolley, a.k.a. the Jefferson Street Branch, was originally the Oregonian Railroad, a narrow-gauge railroad that went from Portland to Springfield and was built using land grants.

What's wrong with a land grant? See, the railroad was given the land for free, provided the land was used for a railroad. If the railroad purpose expires, the land reverts to the adjoining property owner. And, as it seems, most of this route between Portland and Lake Oswego is encumbered with this little restriction. So...the idea of using it for a bike path/walking trail (as ideal as it is to be honest) is not legal. Not unless the governments buy the land.

But...they did!! No, they bought the railroad. They didn't buy the revisionary rights from the adjoining property owners. Why do you think that trolley runs on the track? Because the local governments found out, very shortly after buying the line, that if they didn't use it for a railroad, that the $6 million they spent to "buy" it would vanish like smoke. So they found someone with a trolley to run on it, thus preserving the railroad use and keeping the adjoining property owners at bay from legally taking over the right-of-way.

So...if the trolley doesn't run, and a streetcar isn't put there, the governments that bought the line just wasted a few million dollars.

Now...here's a hitch - the streetcar proponents are claiming the right-of-way is worth some inflated amount of money to be used as leverage for the federal funding. Problem is - there is absolutely, positively NO WAY that the land can be valued as such. Why? Because it can't be sold, except to another railroad. And name just one railroad who will buy it. Union Pacific? Why? BNSF? Again, Why? Amtrak? Uh, WHY?!!! Since the land HAS to be used as a railroad, and there's absolutely no reason why another railroad will buy it...the effective value of the land is ZERO. Not $5 million, Not $50 million; not $100 million. It's ZERO. It has no value.

Those adjoining property owners...if the railroad use of the land ceases, they get the right-of-way free and clear. The government's "investment" disappears. Of course, the land would revert back onto the property tax rolls where currently it is tax exempt, and the adjoining land is pretty pricey land.

Eric H. I've advocated for several years that since most property owners along the ROW oppose the streetcar that they should support having it revert back to their ownership by dis-allowing rail use, but with a legal agreement that each property owner would deed back to Metro to form a public walking and bike trail.

That way the walking/bike trail would be less disruptive to their adjoining homes and property than the streetcar. It would be for the public good. And like you mentioned, if the rail line was abandoned each property owner would have considerable more to pay in property taxes. By having an agreement with Metro, then they'd lose that burden and gain an asset.

Some portions of the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle, which was formed from an abandoned rail line from Lake Union to Kenmore and beyond, this scenario was used for a beautiful trail. When some neighbors thought that the trail would cause more crime, loss of privacy, etc., the developed trail installed fencing, landscaping, etc. to respond to those concerns. My in-laws were one of those. And now the trail is a major assess to Seattle and it's northern suburbs and has become a major commute route.

The costs would be less than $5 Million to execute the ped/bike trail versus the one-half $Billion for the streetcar. And the maintenance/operation costs would be less than 1% of the streetcar costs.

Let's get imaginative. Actually, it isn't even imaginative, it's doable.

Clicky Web Analytics