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The skinny on the three Portland-area freeway projects in line for state funding

Posted by on March 1st, 2017 at 10:28 am

traffic on i-5 -1

The projects would add supply to a high-demand system.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

By now you’ve probably heard whispers and/or seen the headlines about the three freeway widening projects in the Portland region that are a top priority of lawmakers statewide. The goal of the projects is to improve driving conditions for motor vehicle users on Interstate 217 south of Beaverton, I-5 adjacent to the Rose Quarter, and I-205 south of Oregon City.

These three projects represent an estimated cost of $1,000,000,000 — that’s a billion with a “b”. Lawmakers won’t be able to fully fund them in their forthcoming transportation package, but it’s expected they’ll get a significant jumpstart.

Because freeway expansions tend to be very controversial in our region (with good reason), these projects have flown under-the-radar of most people (except those working to get them funded). Another reason there hasn’t been a robust public debate about these projects is that — even though they’ve been listed in various plans (like Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan) for many years — they’ve been unfunded and relegated to “wish lists”. But now that real money is on the table, the tone around these projects has quickly gotten a lot more serious. Everyone who cares about the future of transportation in our region should learn more about them.

Like I mentioned above, these three projects alone are estimated to cost about $1 billion. Now that I have your attention, here’s what I’ve found out about each one…

I-5 Broadway/Weidler Facility Plan – Cost estimate: $450 million (including $200 million for surface streets)

Freeway and local surface street changes between I-84 and I-405

Recommended project.
(Graphic: City of Portland)

Planners at the Oregon Department of Transportation have wanted to expand I-5 at this location for well over a decade. In 2010, the project was dusted off and became a major component of the City of Portland’s N/NE Quadrant Plan, which was adopted by City Council in October 2012.

The main issue planners have with this section of the freeway is congestion. At two lanes in each direction and with no shoulders for a segment near the Rose Quarter, it has become a notorious chokepoint (the Federal Highway Administration ranks it as the #36 in a ranking of 50 “freight bottlenecks” nationwide). In addition to high volumes of local and regional traffic, ODOT says the weaving and exit ramps contribute to a high number of rear-end crashes that make the congestion unpredictable. This “non-recurring” congestion caused by random collisions is especially problematic for freight companies because it means even if they plan trips outside of peak hours, their cargo still might get held up. This freight congestion is why the project has strong support from lawmakers, elected officials, and business owners from around the region and the state.

Years ago, when ODOT first looked at a “fix” for this problem, their initial plan included numerous new through lanes and interchange expansions. But realizing that a massive highway expansion in the Portland’s central city is a non-starter, ODOT saw an opportunity to partner with the Portland Bureau of Transportation in the N/NE Quadrant Plan. Together, the two agencies came up with a plan that dramatically scaled back the highway expansion elements of ODOT’s original concept and added a significant amount of local surface street improvements. It was a compromise made in planning heaven: ODOT could get some additional capacity for the freeway and PBOT would get a host of changes to local streets around the freeway to help spur development and improve traffic flow in a crucial corridor between the Lloyd District and downtown.

Another key reason the City of Portland supports this project: One of the concessions they received from ODOT was a Multimodal Mixed-use Area (MMA) designation. This gives Portland the ability to not be bound by state planning laws that can limit land-use development if freeway capacity is constrained. In other words, with the MMA designation in hand, the City of Portland can re-zone the Lloyd/Rose Quarter area for new development without worrying about how that development will impact congestion — in effect, giving Portland the ability to prioritize the movement of people over the movement of cars.

Here are the basic elements of the plan (taken from official project document):

– Transportation Demand Management strategies to help reduce demand and manage trips in peak hours.
– Extend auxiliary lanes (for local traffic that gets on-then-off) in both directions.
– Add full-width shoulders in both directions
– Relocate I-5 southbound on-ramp to Weidler/Williams (from current location at Wheeler/Winning Way/Williams)
– Convert Williams to a reverse traffic‐flow connection between Broadway and Weidler (includes a barrier‐separated pedestrian/bicycle path in the middle).
– Construct Clackamas pedestrian/bicycle overcrossing (establishes connection over I‐5 from Winning Way to Clackamas).
– Re‐construct the Vancouver Structure and Remove the Flint Structure; Reconfigure streets North of Broadway to include Hancock/Dixon Structure and Lid.

Last night at the Portland Planning & Sustainability Commission meeting, Commissioner Chris Smith proposed an amendment to the Central City Plan to take this project out of the city’s Transportation System Plan. Smith, the sole PSC commissioner who voted against the project in 2012, thinks a project that “makes driving easier” is not the best use of scarce funds. His amendment received support from several other commissioners but was ultimately voted down. Stay tuned for a recap of that meeting. We’ll also report much more on this project in the coming weeks and months. For now, learn more by reading the I-5 Broadway/Weidler Facility Plan (PDF) and check the BikePortland archives for past stories and comments.

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I-205 “Operational Enhancements” – Cost estimate: $450 million

Add lanes in six-mile segment between Stafford Road and Abernethy Bridge

(Graphic: Clackamas County)

Metro’s RTP (PDF) includes a list of over $510 million in “improvements” and expansions of I-205 in the 25-mile segment between the I-5 interchange in Tualatin and the Portland Airport. It appears to me that two specific pieces of that plan are being considered for funding.

According to a fact sheet published by Clackamas County, the project would add a third lane in both directions for a six-mile segment from the Stafford Road interchange to the Abernethy Bridge, and then widen the bridge itself with auxiliary lanes. A wider freeway is needed, say project backers, because I-205 is a “freight and commuter bypass” to the I-5 corridor (see above) and it frequently backs up with congestion. As the region around the freeway grows, there’s a concern that traffic will only get worse.

Highway 217 Auxiliary Lanes – Cost estimate: $100 million

Add lanes between Beaverton and Highway 99 in Tigard

(Graphic: ODOT)

This project aims to improve safety and ease congestion on a seven-mile stretch of Oregon State Highway 217. In a fact-sheet on this project produced by ODOT, the agency makes a very similar case for improvements here as they do for the I-5 project. They say the lack of width and numerous ramps cause weaving, which leads to crashes, which leads to unpredictable and frequent congestion. ODOT says safety is main motivation for this project. The two new lanes and an interchange improvement, reads the project description, “are not intended to address capacity-related congestion problems, but rather to provide immediate and long-term safety improvements at bottleneck locations.”


ODOT and other agencies and leaders around the state are working on numerous highway expansion projects (did you hear the one about the “Northwest Passage”?) — but these three are the hot ones right now.

Like them or not, all three of these projects are very well-positioned to receive funding. They are recommended in Metro’s latest Regional Transportation Plan, have broad support among electeds and other leaders, and they are seen as the answer to the loud drumbeat of “we must fix congestion in Portland!” that is being heard loudly in Salem right now on both sides of the political aisle.

Below is a sketch from the congestion work group of the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Maintenance, a 14-member body of state lawmakers crafting the 2017 transportation package. It shows a possible year-by-year funding scenario for these projects and the SW Corridor project (TriMet’s big transit project):

And perhaps the strongest sign of the State’s commitment to these projects is their inclusion in a letter (PDF) from Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Washington D.C. office to the National Governors Association. Dated December 28th, 2016 and written in response to a request from the NGA for a list of “shovel-ready” projects in need of federal funding (a list they could forward to President Trump’s transition team), the letter included the following passage under the heading, “Congestion Mitigation”:

We are also ready to get to work to increase the capacity of our statewide highway system. The 2016 report issued by the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel found communities in every corner of our state are facing tremendous challenges with Portland-area congestion and bottlenecks statewide. This is slowing commuters and freight movement up and down the I-5 corridor and posing a serious roadblock to a thriving Oregon economy. Oregon agricultural producers and manufacturers are struggling to get their products to market reliably as congestion worsens, and strategic highway enhancement and safety projects will strengthen Oregon’s competitiveness and help spur economic growth.

A $450 million investment in operation enhancements on I-205, along with a $100 million to make improvements on OR 217 will enhance freight mobility, improve safety, and reduce congestion throughout Oregon. Capacity along 1-205 will increase from the Abernethy Bridge to the Stafford Road Interchange, and . These improvement projects will jump-start Oregon’s economy, create thousands of new jobs for Oregonians, and support the domestic manufacturing industry.

Governor Brown and leaders around the state think the completion of these projects will “create thousands of jobs,” “facilitate a freer flow of freight and local traffic” and “support the economy.” Unfortunately the truth is much less optimistic.

Stay tuned for more coverage of these individual projects and the soon-to-be-released transportation package.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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174 Comments
  • dan March 1, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I don’t see anything that couldn’t be solved at much less cost by designating the left lane in each area as a freight+HOV lane. Darn tax and spend Democrats, or is it borrow and spend, and are they Democrats?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Our elected officials love those big expensive capital projects that they can cut the ribbon on for a nice photo op. Cheaper solutions or basic maintenance are less shiny, but are far more important. Building out new infrastructure without funding for maintaining it is how we got into this mess in the first place. Our government acts like slowing commuters or economic growth are the worst thing ever but no one seems to prioritize things like making sure people can actually get to where they are going without dying. Our priorities are strange.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy March 1, 2017 at 1:37 pm

        It’s possible that your priorities are different than those of others.

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    • meh March 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

      The left lane for freight. That’s an interesting concept. Except freight tends to be slower, and needs to exit for delivery. So works for through freight only, and doesn’t really give much of an incentive to drive HOV if you are going to be stuck with large trucks that may not be able to do the speed limit.ush-p-avl1

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      • dan March 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        Remember that during congestion, the other lanes are doing 20 mph at best. So the left lane would be faster, and trucks can enter / exit as usual — this wouldn’t impact that. Frankly, if people are willing to drive 15 mph to Vancouver — and many are — that tells me this state of affairs is acceptable to them, don’t see why we would invest hundreds of millions in changing it. Making sure freight can transit the area seems like a much higher priority.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy March 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

        That tells me they don’t have other options that are better.

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      • 9watts March 1, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        Interesting how limited your scope is here: There is no a priori reason to only view this through the lens of the individual-driver-stuck-in-traffic. How about a little more imagination, a little broader vision, some attention to, you know, actual solutions, rather than kicking the congestion can down the road?

        All of these would be solved tomorrow by passing real gas taxes worthy-of-the-name.

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  • Allan Rudwick March 1, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I wish we had a plan for a ‘steady-state’ or ‘final’ vision for our highway system that would never be expanded upon ever. folks would need to plan their lives around the congestion that would ensue and/or we could invest in other options. Planning to incrementally widen indefinitely won’t make people think about signing up for a long commute for 20+ years.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 11:45 am

      The problem is that improving capacity to meet demand is so obviously right (even though it’s not), it’s a hard idea to push back against.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy March 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm

        It might be right in some situations, and not in others. The problem is when we see something work in one place we assume it will in another…when that may not be the case.

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      • 9watts March 1, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        Name one where it is right.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 9:35 pm

        Only one? OK. Breezewood, PA. Read the Feb 6, 2017 article in the NYTimes about it.

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    • Kate March 2, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Induced demand is a very real thing, but some of these solutions like the Rose Quarter changes are not so much capacity as eliminating some of the crazy merges and lane changes needed in that area that create the bottlenecks. I think these are worthy of our consideration and should be encouraged over just freeway widening (e.g. the original proposal). I’m personally excited by a lot of the surface street improvements in that proposal and the new bike/ped bridge proposed over there.

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  • EH March 1, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I support every one of these…

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    • rick March 1, 2017 at 11:51 am

      which new bike lanes?

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  • dwk March 1, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I would much rather have cars on freeways than city streets.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 11:11 am

      More cars on highways means more cars on city streets. They have to get off the highways sometime.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 11:14 am

        I would like to limit growth. you don’t.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

        Limit growth by expanding highways? How does that make any sense?

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 11:23 am

        217 is a mess because of the growth in Washington county. The growth is already there and the freeway cannot handle it so people are constantly bailing off and adjacent streets.
        217 does need to be widened to simply accommodate the population already in place.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 11:35 am

        So you would like to limit growth, yet you acknowledge the need to accommodate the growth you don’t want via widening a highway. Again, I challenge you: how does this make any sense? Accommodating the growth will only encourage further growth. Additionally, if we want to “accommodate the population already in place”, widening a highway is probably the least effective way to do this, since it will only encourage more car-dependence and add more cars to city streets. MAX expansion, bus lanes, more housing near job centers, etc. are all far better alternatives.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 11:47 am

        “Accommodating the growth will only encourage further growth.” This is very true, and we’re seeing this across the region.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 11:56 am

        You are constantly advocating for more housing.
        That does not encourage growth at all……

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        That is within the context of housing affordability. I’m talking about highway expansion here. Two very different beasts. Housing is a basic human right, driving is not.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm

        And, dwk, we are literally saying the same thing here. I agree with you that we need to accommodate it. I just do not see the need to accommodate by encouraging people to drive more. You want to accommodate the growth by widening highways, and I want to accommodate the growth by adding more high-density housing. Your idea encourages the growth to happen in low-density sprawl, far from job centers. My idea encourages people to live closer to jobs and services, and promotes less reliance on automobiles.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm

        Housing is a basic human right, but housing in a particular location is not.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        Housing everywhere and anywhere should be accommodated for all. We should not create a class-based system where only certain people can live in certain cities.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        You are saying that I have a right to housing anywhere I want it, regardless of my ability to pay?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 2:01 pm

        Yes.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm

        Who has the obligation to provide that housing?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 2:06 pm

        Collectively, we all do.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Do you mean the government has an obligation to build housing for all who want it, where they want it, or that we, as individuals, do?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm

        I am not sure what that looks like in practice or even if that idea is even feasible in the system we have today. However, I believe in housing as a human right and I reject the idea that we need to send people to some other city or neighborhood simply for economic reasons.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        I think it is well established that housing/shelter is something everyone should have, but you go well beyond this. Has any governmental body (in the US, Europe, UN, etc.), or any human rights/civil liberties group endorsed your view that everyone who wants to live in a given city or neighborhood, regardless of economic situation, has the inalienable right to do so?

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 2:28 pm

        I would use every zoning law I could to limit growth in the region. We do that now with the UGB, we should be able too stop growth if we want…
        In the meantime since we allow unlimited growth it appears, we could do some fixes to a freeway that is essentially unchanged in 40 years.
        I think the public has been remarkable for not wanting some fixes sooner.

        I have no idea why you think a person would be able to live in affordable? housing wherever they want to. Why???
        I always thought Carmel by the sea would be a terrific place to live. Great weather, biking, scenery etc.
        You know what? They closed the door on that a long time ago. I really think they should have allowed me to live there in the house of my choice for the price I wanted….

        Portland is a nice place. It was a lot nicer several years ago in my opinion. I am a transplant, I moved here in 1989. It was pretty affordable then but I moved from a poorer intermountain state and I thought it was expensive. Should the people in Portland in 1989 provided me with the housing I could afford?

        I think your idea is nuts….

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 2:36 pm

        I believe you are extrapolating what i am saying too far. I am simply rejecting the idea that we should be effectively kicking people out of cities because they can no longer afford to live there. That is a very neoliberal “markets gone wild” perspective. What I envision this looking like in practice is that every neighborhood of every city having enough affordable or even free housing for people that need it.

        And dwk, your proposal to “use every zoning law I could to limit growth in the region” is basically the San Francisco approach, and we all know what that has done for affordability in that city.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        People who live in San Francisco have the right to zone however they choose. They zoned me out. So has New York city. So has a lot of places.
        I cannot afford to live in Paris, France. I would like to…
        We should have stopped growth here in about 2000. I am sure a lot of people who lived here before I moved here, think I should not have…
        Again, your idea has zero merit in any country or society I know of.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 2:47 pm

        You said you “reject the idea that we need to send people to some other city or neighborhood simply for economic reasons.” What does that mean if not that people have the right to get housing (that some entity is therefore obligated to provide) in any neighborhood regardless of their ability to pay?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        Often times zoning is used as a tool to keep certain groups of people out of a city. American cities – Portland especially – has had a long nefarious history of this practice. Do you believe in “cities rights” to be able to continue this practice?

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 2:51 pm

        Strict zoning would have kept the African American neighborhoods in Portland intact.
        I think you probably would have supported that…
        Zoning goes both ways.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm

        In fact, had Portland zoned for no growth in 2000 as I would have liked, all the gentrification which drove up all the prices and drove out all the low income folks would not have happened.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

        The idea your proposing would dramatically raise housing prices, which would make gentrification far worse as there would be less places for people to go.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 3:09 pm

        No, not as much as has happened.
        Sorry but I have lived in inner northeast for 25 years. I know a bit about the history.
        Developers ran roughshod in the area. It did not have to happen and most of the affordable housing that was being LIVED in did not have to disappear.
        You want the same thing everywhere which has happened.
        Your solution which is to build a ton of new stuff everywhere for anyone who wants to move or live in Portland Oregon is the problem….

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 3:13 pm

        And what happens when you don’t build housing in a city that people are moving to is that housing prices skyrocket and people are forced out of their homes. Your policy would turn Portland into San Francisco.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 3:25 pm

        Actually when you moved here you contributed to the problem. You don’t get that?
        Same when I moved here.
        We are becoming San Fran and Vancouver. There is just so much real estate.
        You seem to have no concept of that.
        Everyone wants to live in the nicest area and place.
        There is so much to go around.
        I would have kept you out for as long as possible (nothing personal).

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      • Chris I March 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm

        You sound like a fascist, dwk. Nothing personal.

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 8:54 pm

        And you Chris are the smartest person in the room.
        I liked your solution. whatever that is….

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      • dwk March 1, 2017 at 8:57 pm

        Oh and Chris, since when does advocating for keeping historic neighborhoods intact sound like fascism?
        Do you have any Idea what you post?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 9:14 pm

        Let’s just say I have heard a lot of arguments from long-time Portlanders that sound… familiar. Fear of outsiders (“transplants”), fear that those outsiders are ruining Portland, a desire to go back to the “old” Portland, wanting to not allow more people in for fear that we will lose our culture and way of life, blaming everything on Californians, etc. It’s not fascism to be sure — that requires violence and an extreme rhetoric of hate and scapegoating. However, we need to be very wary of ideas like these as they can lead to bad things.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 9:20 pm

        Again we agree! It’s not fascism!

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      • Chris I March 2, 2017 at 8:42 am

        When you make statements like: “I would have kept you out for as long as possible (nothing personal).”

        You sound like a fascist. Freedom of movement and property rights are essential American freedoms. You would restrict what people can do with their property and who can move where, and that is un-American.

        When land values increase, people will build denser housing, which allows more people to live in the city. It’s amazing that you have been priced out of several large cities, but you still don’t seem to understand the basic economics that lead to your displacement.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 9:35 am

        Zoning is unamerican? The terrorists have won!

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      • rachel b March 2, 2017 at 11:07 am

        Adam–I’m sure you won’t be shocked to hear many of your arguments (shared, apparently, by many newcomers) for blithely destroying the old to accommodate the new are equally, tiresomely familiar to longtime residents. The unchecked fervor and evangelism for adding density to longstanding, attractive, existing close-in neighborhoods is being called into question here and nationwide, with more calls (very welcome, in my opine) for a more critical examination of the serious downsides to the New Urbanism agenda (much of which I support, in theory, by the way).

        The argument’s always “affordable housing!” but why, for example, did Portland take the David Douglas neighborhood off the list for rezoning/new housing? Why aren’t we targeting areas like that, where the need is off the charts? Where everybody’s moved because they can’t afford inner SE/NE anymore? There’s no way affordable housing is going to happen close in when developers get the green light to raze raze raze and terraform Hosford-Abernethy and Sellwood and Hawthorne. The new housing will be expensive. And I don’t agree with subsidizing the dream of letting everyone live precisely where they want.

        I guess over time prices could lower, as the neighborhoods folks moved here for because of their charm will have utterly lost it.

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      • dwk March 2, 2017 at 11:14 am

        Wow , zoning is un American and fascist. Who would have thought.
        We have had the Urban Growth Boundary for decades. Apparently all the metro area
        are fascists….

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      • wsbob March 2, 2017 at 11:57 am

        “…Sorry but I have lived in inner northeast for 25 years. I know a bit about the history.
        Developers ran roughshod in the area. It did not have to happen and most of the affordable housing that was being LIVED in did not have to disappear. …” dwk

        The city let devlelopers run ‘roughshod’ over NE, like for example, along Mississippi St . Well of course, many people don’t say that to refer to what developers sometimes do, instead using nicer terms like ‘urban renewal’, or ‘upscaling’. More casually referred to as ‘gentrification’.

        Bottom line: property values go up, the city receives more tax revenue…and lots of people lose their housing because they no longer can afford either the increased tax, or the rent increase.

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  • Spiffy March 1, 2017 at 11:10 am

    why does the freight lobby think the answer to their highway mobility issues is more lanes for cars?

    they should be pushing for less cars on the highway so there’s more room for them…

    trucks will never get what they want by giving it all the public…

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  • Bill Stites March 1, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Like a bad doctor – addressing symptoms without addressing the root cause.

    Very disheartening, and extremely shortsighted. In the context of climate change, there is no way these projects should move forward, and yet they have near-consensus?? I’m just getting sick …

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    • dwk March 1, 2017 at 11:28 am

      So stalled cars on freeways is good for the climate?

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      • Dan A March 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm

        Adding lanes won’t change that.

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        • Peter W March 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

          dwk: “So stalled cars on freeways is good for the climate?”
          dan: “Adding lanes won’t change that”

          Exactly.

          In fact, Governor Brown and some of the Democrats were so optimistic reducing congestion would reduce carbon emissions they were willing to trade their recently passed clean fuels law in order to get Republican votes for a transportation spending bill. (‘Yet ODOT ignored substantial evidence that “increasing capacity on congested roads to allow traffic to move faster and more smoothly actually increases total emissions.”‘[1])

          That trade died when ODOT informed them that all the freeway widening Brown hoped to buy would save, by ODOT’s estimates, 43,000 metric tons per year[2]. To put this into context, “Oregon emits about 63 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually” with just over a third due to transportation[3], and by 2020 we’re set to overshoot our emissions goals by the equivalent of about three new coal plants. The state’s Global Warming Commission says “more action is needed, particularly in the transportation sector, if the state is to meet our longer-term GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction goals”[4]).

          So there’s evidence more lanes = more driving = more emissions, and even ODOT admitted that spending $343.5 million on their highway bill would have, at best, a relatively tiny impact on emissions. By ODOT’s math that claims spending millions cuts carbon by 43,000 metric tons, in order to hit the 10 million metric ton reduction needed to meet our 2020 goals, we’d have to pass the ODOT spending bill not just once but 232 times. So not $343.5 million but rather $79.6 billion. With a ‘b’. Good luck, ODOT. While they work on that, the rest of us will be over here finding cheap and effective ways to actually reduce carbon emissions.

          1: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2015/07/steve_duin_the_wreck_of_the_or.html
          2: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/06/how_the_legislatures_transport.html
          3: http://www.governorswindenergycoalition.org/?p=20629
          4: https://medium.com/@techieshark/oregons-global-warming-commission-has-some-state-budget-advice-33c1992f6539#.fpmjx3om3

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        It might if it gets vehicles moving.

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      • Dan A March 1, 2017 at 12:06 pm

        For a few years, until they are at capacity again.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Sure; then we just need to build more. Adding supply is how you deal with increasing demand, right?

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      • GlowBoy March 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        “So stalled cars on freeways is good for the climate?”

        Not in an immediate sense. But expanding freeway capacity always – ALWAYS! – results in an increased level of demand for that freeway. Which ultimately is worse for the climate.

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      • Dan A March 1, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        Does this plan also call for increasing the size of the earth?

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      • 9watts March 1, 2017 at 8:50 pm

        This is such a tired and ridiculous argument. I can’t believe I’m hearing this. Stop-and-go (which is I think what you mean) cars are the big problem for the climate now?

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  • Andrew March 1, 2017 at 11:36 am

    That’s some impressive magical thinking! More lanes = less congestion? Why hasn’t anybody tried that before! /snark

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  • paikiala March 1, 2017 at 11:44 am

    So if Flint is removed as the quiet connection, is there a plan for extending the Rodney greenway south to connect to the Clackamas ped bridge?

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    • Allan Rudwick March 1, 2017 at 11:48 am

      it goes down to Multnomah already … just follow the sharrows. Yes it would connect

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    • Beeblebrox March 1, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      Rodney Greenway already goes down 2nd, then 3rd, down to Multnomah. So yes. Hancock will also be extended on a new bridge.

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  • rick March 1, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I actually don’t mind riding a bike on the shoulder of east-bound Highway 26 from Sylvan to the Jefferson Street exit. Zoom by the diesel and Prius congestion.

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  • rick March 1, 2017 at 11:49 am

    The metro freeways need caps over them in many places and adjacent trails. West Linn has called for it.

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    • Andrew March 1, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Where in West Linn would the freeway be capped? Unless I’m missing something, isn’t I-205 at grade throughout the city?

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      • rick March 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm

        West Linn called for a trail in the ODOT property of I-205 between the highway 43 area to 10th street. There are incredible views there of big Oregon White Oak trees.

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    • Chris I March 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      The city should accept nothing less than a complete lid for the full length of the Rose Quarter project. This is a great opportunity. If ODOT is not willing to remove urban freeways, drivers need to pay to lid them.

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  • bikeninja March 1, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    The upcoming debt ceiling battle ( kicks off on march 15) and the ensuing antics of our new administration and retrograde congress will make sure the funding for things such as this is tied up for years to come, even though many of these folks love cars and freeways.

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  • GlowBoy March 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    (Raises hand) Ooh, ooh, ooh, Mister Kotter!

    I know how to solve the congestion problem on this stretch of I-5!

    Don’t increase capacity. Reduce demand. Rip out I-5 along the east bank south of I-84, re-designating the current I-405 as part of I-5. Tear down the earthquake-deathtrap Marquam Bridge and all those hideous aerial connecting ramps. The stretch of freeway we’re talking about ceases to be known as I-5: now it’s just an added first (or last) mile of I-84. And now it would have plenty of capacity.

    You’re welcome.

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    • David Hampsten March 1, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      The Steel Bridge, Naito, and the road now occupied by Tom McCall Waterfront Park used to be designated “I-5”, way back when.

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  • Scott H March 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Call your senators in Salem, tell them you don’t want any new roads built until we can fix the ones we already have that are currently covered in millions of potholes.

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  • todd boulanger March 1, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    This will be great for ALL those Oregon licensed cars stuck in northbound I-5 traffic these days going to Vancouver & other SW spots…for work or sleeping. There does not seem to be much of a reverse commute bonus within the bridge zone these days. IMHO.

    FYI: There is a growing number of us are pushing to close the downtown I-5 SB ramp (to improve the SR-14 flow) by private vehicles. Anyone in Oregon working to close and relocate the Hayden Island interstate ramps? This should be back on the table now that CRC is dead.

    (I live and work <600 feet from Interstate Bridge and the motorized vehicle congestion is now bi-directional for 7 days a week. The freight trains and bike are still moving fine.;-)

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    • X March 1, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Absolutely. Too many on-ramps! The traffic on I-5 between Broadway, in Portland, and Mill Plain, in Vancouver, never has a chance to flow. People take surface streets to the last possible exit before entering the freeway. Um, sad?

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    I support the idea that neighborhoods should have some control over their physical form and land use policies. I do not support using those policies to keep “certain groups” out.

    Adam, You are fond of pointing to San Francisco as a place where zoning has led to high housing prices. The problem is that the converse is not true. What cities with constrained boundaries that have been able to depress rents significantly by relaxing zoning codes? What dense cities can you point to that are particularly affordable?

    A supply-side approach will not lead to affordable housing, any more than it does to uncongested roads. If it did, we’d have plenty of examples to follow.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      I support the idea that neighborhoods should have some control over their physical form and land use policies. I do not support using those policies to keep “certain groups” out.

      Often times the latter is implemented under the guise of the former.

      Building more housing does not lead to dramatically falling prices, but it does help prevent prices from skyrocketing like in SF. And using the roads analogy makes no sense – there are alternatives to driving and there there are ways to encourage people to get around using other modes besides a motor vehicle.

      However, the only alternative to housing is houselessness. You say supply-side does not work, so do you believe that implementing zoning policies that restrict supply to limit growth would be equally ineffective? How do you propose we reduce demand for housing?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 3:44 pm

        I don’t claim driving and housing are analogous situations, except that neither bears any resemblance to the idealized markets where traditional rules of supply & demand hold (somewhat) true. Both housing and road construction offer the seductive illusion that supply can meet demand, but the market will fail in both cases.

        I believe SF is expensive because it is highly desirable, highly constrained, and has a lot of highly paid people. Building more housing there (which will inevitably cater to the top of the market) may allow more highly paid people to live there, but, like here, the supply of people willing to buy in at the top far outpaces the city’s capacity to build, even with relaxed rules.

        I’ve said this before, but every affordable unit we replace with a high-end unit is reducing affordability, not building towards a more economically-diverse future. Every affordable unit that is replaced is gone forever, and makes the city a bit less diverse.

        If we really wanted to preserve affordability in Portland, we’d discourage tech companies from relocating here.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 3:56 pm

        Ah, the classic but tired “blame the tech companies” trope. Might I remind you that all the affordable homes that San Francisco did not replace are now currently unaffordable. A once affordable house does not remain affordable ad infinitum if supply is still constrained and demand remains constant or increasing.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 4:23 pm

        Also, I have yet to see any examples of affordable homes being replaced with unaffordable ones. To me, it looks like unaffordable homes being replaced with even less affordable ones. There really are not many affordable units left to replace. And an old home with deferred maintenance doesn’t count if it needs $100k to fix up in order to be livable.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 5:48 pm

        I follow real estate in SE Portland, and I’ve posted about many examples in the past.

        Here is a smattering: A house on SE 12th near Harrison renting rooms for $450 will be demolished to make room for high-end apartments. A house on SE Woodward renting rooms for $500 was demolished and is being replaced with two $900K houses. A serviceable house sold for $280K recently demolished, and will be replaced with something more expensive. A $350K 3BR house just off SE 21st sold to a developer for the ground it sits on.

        All of these sold within the past year, in one small corner of Portland; I know plenty of examples in other neighborhoods. This pattern is being repeated throughout the city.

        If you’re not seeing it, you’re not looking.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 6:19 pm

        Okay fair point. Though most of the SE home”owning” market is not affordable. If I were looking to buy today, I could not afford anything in my neighborhood. Even more reason that we need affordable housing requirements for all new development and not simply an “incentive”.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 6:22 pm

        Also… it is true that house prices are rising, even without replacement. But it is also true that while an existing house appreciate $400K to $500K, over several years (or more, even in Portland), a replacement house will go from $400K to $1M overnight. Will that $400K house ever get to $1M? Maybe. But it will take a lot longer to do so.

        And you have yet to produce any examples of where a supply-side solution has worked to keep housing affordable in a high-demand market.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 6:27 pm

        Adam H., I don’t know what you consider affordable, but any of those houses I cited were probably in your range, and they are even closer in than where you live.

        What we need are incentives to NOT destroy existing affordable housing. New housing is simply not affordable. Another thing all those examples I cited have in common is they all could have worked for a small family. The replacement housing wouldn’t (except for the $900K houses). Families aren’t even being priced out — they’re being physically excluded from new construction.

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      • Matt S. March 1, 2017 at 6:44 pm

        Maybe our idea of home ownership has changed. You once used to be able to buy a home for 250k on a $20/hour salary. There used to be supply, that used to be the case. Now we buy a 400-500k on TWO $20/hour salaries. Modern day homeownership requires strong dual income earners in the household. Areas of speciality of employment need to be such that in the event of losing their job, they can find a new one with relatively ease, making the same amount or if not more. This type of employment sector favors highly educated people.

        Maybe if we want homeowners, we as a society need to emphasize college that counts and trade school.

        People can’t make it here in this city on barely above min. wage. Our servers, baristas, ticket takers, book store clerks, etc. are going to have to move away or live in 2 bdrms w/ 4 roommates if they want to live in close-in Portland.

        Times have changed and so do the ideas of how people live.

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      • David Hampsten March 1, 2017 at 8:32 pm

        I have a supply-side example for you – it’s called “moving”, as in moving away from unaffordable communities. There are many affordable high-density cities in the US, but no longer any on the west coast. Many are in the Midwest – St. Louis, St Paul, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, etc. Yeah, they all have crime, but then so does Portland. Don’t like the weather? Then move out here to NC. We had 75 degrees today with evening thunderstorms.

        The reality is that the longer you stay in a community you cannot afford, the harder it is to move – high financial costs, loss of friends, ease of getting around, etc. I lived in Portland for 18 years and put off moving beyond the point of affordability. On the other hand, moving is also an opportunity to explore new places and cultures, to live in an environment out of your comfort zone, a bit like staying in obscure town in Europe where people happen to speak English, but with peculiar non-Oregonian accents. It’s even possible to enjoy a new place. In spite of HB2, NC is kinda neat, believe it or not.

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      • 9watts March 1, 2017 at 8:53 pm

        “Building more housing does not lead to dramatically falling prices, but it does help prevent prices from skyrocketing like in SF.”

        Not on your life. Without a cap, some way of limiting demand growth, this is no solution at all; it is just a very easy way to kick this particular can down the road.

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      • Eric Liefsdad March 1, 2017 at 10:45 pm

        If we’re replacing one unit with only one unit, we’re doing it wrong. Also, we’re not doing anything with many of the free parking spaces most of the time. That’s enough space for a tiny house, granted some utilities would need to be provided. I suppose Portland might become a world leader on dry toilet tech now that we’ve built the irrelevant giant pipe for the combined stormwater/sewage.

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    • dwk March 1, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      Adam H.
      Not one example anywhere of what you are talking about.
      A pleasant intellectual exercise that is not reproduced anywhere in the real world.
      Name ONE place where your ideas work.
      Not even in the Utopia of the Netherlands.
      Very expensive.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 6:22 pm

        Just because something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy goal to work towards. We unfortunately live in a world that values profits and efficiency over all else. I happen to reject that idea.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 1, 2017 at 6:29 pm

        You are right, but novel economic models that claim to be able to reorient society are necessarily suspect.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 2, 2017 at 8:33 am

        Very true, but I happen to believe that our current system is failing most of our country. Something needs to change.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 9:44 am

        I actually agree. Our main difference is that the policies you champion will result in exactly the outcome you want to prevent. Mine will too, but yours will get us there more quickly, and with more collateral damage.

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  • Yoel Taomas March 1, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Adam H.
    I am not sure what that looks like in practice or even if that idea is even feasible in the system we have today.
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    80%+ of people in Singapore live in residential developments that are publicly governed and developed (ie, built and sold by the government). It is generally considered to be relatively affordable, and high-quality housing. So that is what is what is it looks like in practice. They also charge drivers directly for using the roads (as I am sure you know.)

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    • David Hampsten March 1, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Britain & Germany both have a lot more public housing than in the USA, including for middle-class households. Not 80%, but certainly more than 30%, enough of the overall housing stock to remove much of the stigma of living in public housing. Mind you, they also pave “projects” like those in the USA, with high crime, but they also have “nice” public housing that is frequently sought-after. As does the Netherlands.

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  • Matt S. March 1, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” —Mark Twain

    This is why cars work and bikes don’t.

    Good for you if you keep your health…

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  • B. Carfree March 1, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    If I had wanted to live in the 1950’s, I would have chosen to be born slightly sooner.

    ODOT is determined to build like it’s 1955 so we can all experience what L.A. was like in 1970 (go find some photos; not pretty unless it just rained). On the bright side, I guess this should lead to another Clean Air Act and another resurgence of public transit build-out.

    The big difference is the people who built all those lane miles of freeway in the ’50s and ’60s didn’t know any better and couldn’t have reasonably been expected to know the harm they were doing. Today’s ODOT should know, and probably does know, but just doesn’t care.

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    • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Would rather live in LA of 1970 than la of today with its massive neighborhood dividing freeways.

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  • Kittens March 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    It is beyond shameful how the powers that be have designed a system so byzantine and opaque that regular people have little say in the matter until…. oops, its already funded! Reminds me of the CRC. Yet it takes years of “dialog” to get a bike lane or something painted on a road. Even as a prod tax-and-spend liberal this sort of rigged system is beyond the pale.

    The only reason they don’t want people finding out about these things is because they would rather just carry on, building out roads to eternity rather than think outside the box.

    These “leaders” could really learn something by studying the Mt Hood Freeway revolt. That episode minted an entire class of leaders and planners commensurate with Oregon’s extensive progressivism of the 60s and 70s, brought them great press and MAX, a system so ahead of it’s time it continues to pay dividends to the region in the form of higher livability and lower congestion.

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    • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 8:49 am

      There is little money in putting in bike lanes…Even the convoluted versions put in today. There is millions in highways.

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      • Dan A March 2, 2017 at 12:53 pm

        How do you mean? No money for construction companies? If we had $1 billion to spend on walking/biking improvements, I’m sure we could figure out ways to put it to use.

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        • Dan A March 3, 2017 at 7:15 am

          /transit

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  • Kittens March 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Also, great capsule review of the projects, timeline, and progress Johnathan!

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  • Matt S. March 1, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    We’ll need all the roads we can get when they’re overrun by automated cars. At least we’ll be able to check our Instagram at 65mph… Yay for technology! …

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  • wsbob March 1, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Re; Hwy 217:

    “…The two new lanes and an interchange improvement, reads the project description, “are not intended to address capacity-related congestion problems, but rather to provide immediate and long-term safety improvements at bottleneck locations.” …” ODOT

    In a nutshell, that ODOT statement basically sums up any potential that’s likely to be gained from the 100 million dollar project. The old expression, ‘good money after bad’, comes to mind. The area population continues to grow, but the freeways can’t, not really. There’s an ‘ODOT knows’…for you.

    True..these projects will produce jobs…that is…construction jobs for people employed to build out the projects. There isn’t any realistically practical way that area freeways will be able to handle an increase in motor vehicle travel corresponding to anticipated population growth.

    I believe I’m fair in considering myself a realist where ideas about motor vehicle use by the population, is concerned. People for many years to come, may continue to drive for some of their travel needs. Hopefully, with good thinking and better community planning…much less driving of the long distance daily commute from, for example…city to city in our metro area.

    They…freeways, really are sort of marvels of the modern age…but there are so may bad things resulting from freeways and too high mph posted thoroughfares…the noise, the pollution, the danger to everyone arising from them, that it more and more seems like not such a good idea to keep perpetuating ideas about freeway travel being the best way to build community.

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  • Buzz March 1, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    The Flint street crossing is really the only alternative to riding through the fustercluck that is the I-5 – Broadway interchange, if they take it away it will be a big loss for the cycling public, I don’t care what sort of bike ‘facility’ they propose for Broadway – Weidler.

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  • Tom March 1, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    What’s wrong with the ODOT doing an induced demand analysis first? The methodology is well established and some states are starting to require these studies first. Put the numbers on the table for all to see instead of just speculating. I suspect ODOT does not want to see the result of such a study, and would only do the study if a state law forced them to. Taxpayers should be informed of the 3 to 5 year congestion outlook for these projects vs just the first year.

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  • Mark smith March 1, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Woohoo! I bet the Realtor association is excited about the third lane on 205. More soul sucking subdivisions!

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  • Smokey Bear March 1, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I must agree that all three freeway sections are traffic nightmares. Widening Hwy 26 several years ago in the Beaverton-Hillsboro area did reduce congestion for a few years.

    If they can reduce traffic jams, maybe we’ll spew a few less pounds of CO2 into the air.

    As long as population grows and we have the money, we’ll build infrastructure. That’s what humans do. Not all that long ago there were no roads in Oregon; or the entire USA for that matter. Now look at it. Stuff happens.

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    • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 6:55 am

      “If they can reduce traffic jams, maybe we’ll spew a few less pounds of CO2 into the air.”

      Do you really think it works like that? If you think smooth flowing traffic doesn’t emit CO2, think again.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 10:45 am

        It emits less per vehicle-mile.

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      • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 11:52 am

        Of course, which is exactly why this relative method of accounting has no place in a climate constrained world. The only accounting that makes any sense is absolute: how much CO2 is emitted in total.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm

        Relative accounting is critical so you can make appropriate decisions, and properly weigh options.

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      • Smokey Bear March 2, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        I said “less”, not “none”. 😉

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      • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 6:08 pm

        I disagree.

        Relative accounting leads to false choices like paper or plastic?. It often(invariably?) obscures the more basic option which is that we (all too often) need to go in a different direction altogether.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        That’s only true if people are considering their choice before making their move. In this case, they aren’t.

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      • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 10:07 pm

        my comment was supposed to nest here. What happened to the reply hierarchies we used to have here in the comments? Did Trump axe them?

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        • 9watts March 3, 2017 at 7:20 am

          THANK YOU for restoring the additional comment reply hierarchy buttons!

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 3, 2017 at 8:09 am

            you’re welcome 9watts. i adjusted the settings to try and limit the length of reply threads. I feel like some commenters dominate a thread by having long and personal, off-topic back-and-forths. i try to strike a balance — to foster in-depth conversations with “the regulars”, yet also be welcoming to new readers and those who might be intimidated/put-off by the domninance of a few commenters.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty March 3, 2017 at 10:08 am

              Is there an option for collapsing/muting certain threads? That way, a newcomer could turn off a conversation that veered way off topic, but others could continue bickering about whatever the excuse of the moment is.

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            • 9watts March 3, 2017 at 12:30 pm

              I would think a conversation about these observations and concerns would be great; about how the comment section works/doesn’t work/could be improved. Here are some questions I’d start with –
              (1) do fresh commenters feel intimidated when showing up here, and if so what specific things cause this?
              (2) there are lots of tricks for how to invite & structure comments, the collapse idea has been mentioned here a lot, and the ability to edit comments is a perennial request. Are you, Jonathan, interested in feedback from commenters about these things?
              (3) “some commenters dominate a thread by having long and personal, off-topic back-and-forths…” I think there is probably near unanimity that long back and forths happen here with some frequency, and I am as guilty as anyone, if not more so. I get a huge benefit from these, but have no idea if others feel similarly or how much of a range of views we might have on this question. Personal and off-topic, I think, happen less, and may be harder to pin down. Thread drift isn’t in my view necessarily a bad thing, though if you feel it is unwelcome that would be something to air/discuss/resolve.

              PS speaking specifically to the (thankfully brief) elimination of the ability to nest replies several layers deep, to me, the way I use and participate in these discussions that ability is essential. The system that came before assigned successive comments a number, which was another way to identify the comment to which one was responding. At the time of the switch I was sorry to see that go, but have since become a huge fan of the system we have (today). If the recent elimination were to be made permanent then I think we’d want some alternative way to converse.

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    • Chris I March 2, 2017 at 8:47 am

      26 is a perfect example of induced demand. before the widening project, we had 4 lanes of stop and go traffic, now we have 6 every day. Which configuration spews more Co2 into the air? The more lanes you add, the more lanes will fill up. Houston has 20-lane monster freeways to fill up with crawling traffic every day. Their constant freeways expansion has driven insane levels of sprawl in the region. It takes 60 minutes to drive across the Houston metro area at 70mph.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 9:21 am

        How do you know the higher volumes are due to induced demand, and not other factors such as more people in the region?

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      • wsbob March 2, 2017 at 11:20 am

        “26 is a perfect example of induced demand. …” chris I

        Development in Washington County, has resulted in the need and demand for efforts to have Hwy 26 (actually, a freeway.) be capable of moving ever greater numbers of motor vehicles. Increasing the highway’s capacity.

        To some extent, it’s true I think, that widening the 26 to provide more lanes, enabled more people to view employment and housing at separate points, long distances away from each other along the corridor this freeways serves…to be a viable choice for them personally. Resulting in demands for improvements to the freeway’s infrastructure to enable flow and to increase capacity…somewhat.

        The ability to continue making those adjustments, is probably very finite…and probably for our area, has been topped out. I don’t think were going to transition to Houston or Georgia type ever growing freeway systems…but of course, I don’t really know for sure what’s going to happen here.

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      • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 11:50 am

        Given all that we know about how induced demand works, how do you know this is not what occurred?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 12:24 pm

        We don’t know, so we can’t ascribe a cause.

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      • Brian March 2, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        I would say that 26 is a perfect example of “success” according to what is being measured by the trafficky-people. The 26/217 project has all but eliminated congestion heading Westbound in the morning. I’m not sure how much more effective it is in the evening as I’m heading the other direction, but given the change in the morning it must be an improvement. If that congestion returns to the previous rate, is that necessarily because of induced-demand?

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      • Chris I March 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        In this case, the induced demand is most likely due to new residents. The freeway widening enabled additional development and car commutes from Washington County. If we had not widened 26, the congestion would be even worse, and people would find alternate ways to get to work. We would see more MAX ridership, and we would see more congestion on parallel routes. Induced demand is not something we are making up. If you are skeptical about it, you just need to read into it more to understand the concept.

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    • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      I’m not following.
      We live in a society addicted to this sort of myopic framing, at all levels. If we are talking policy – how to spend public funds – then we sure as heck should hold ourselves to higher standards than whatever feels good, alleviates private inconvenience, right now

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  • Mark smith March 1, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Matt S.
    Maybe our idea of home ownership has changed. You once used to be able to buy a home for 250k on a $20/hour salary. There used to be supply, that used to be the case. Now we buy a 400-500k on TWO $20/hour salaries. Modern day homeownership requires strong dual income earners in the household. Areas of speciality of employment need to be such that in the event of losing their job, they can find a new one with relatively ease, making the same amount or if not more. This type of employment sector favors highly educated people.
    Maybe if we want homeowners, we as a society need to emphasize college that counts and trade school.
    People can’t make it here in this city on barely above min. wage. Our servers, baristas, ticket takers, book store clerks, etc. are going to have to move away or live in 2 bdrms w/ 4 roommates if they want to live in close-in Portland.
    Times have changed and so do the ideas of how people live.
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    “we want homeowners”? Huh? What? Everyone saddled with soul crushing debt? No thanks. I own a house. It’s horrible..but apartments are more expensive..so I am stuck with it. The key is to grow apartments dramatically. But..apparently every nimby on the planet who owns a giant house 25 blocks outside of downtown apparently has a right to that house with not an apartment in sight for life.

    Whatever is 10 stories built today should be 20, whatever is 20 should be 40. Building more houses is completely inefficient. That’s the equivalent of pumping more water out of a dying well for a thirsty city instead of getting more efficient, collecting rain water…etc.

    Is Lars Larson in charge of the Oregon Government now?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 10:54 am

      It is ironic that you are complaining that your house is so much cheaper than an apartment that you can’t afford to “upgrade.” Most people would love to have that problem.

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      • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 11:40 am

        Where did I say upgrade?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        You did not use that word, but if you are talking about how horrible home ownership is, and how you would prefer to move to an apartment, it seems reasonable to conclude that, for you, apartment living would be an upgrade.

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    • Smokey Bear March 2, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Lots of new apartments and homes are popping up in the area between Intel Ronler Acres and Intel Aloha. It is served by MAX.

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  • JF March 2, 2017 at 8:16 am

    These are all much needed. With respect to 205, there will eventually be massive development at Stafford road, with offices and lots of housing. The highway is already bad there, so good to get out ahead of future development.

    The Portland metro area is going to continue to grow at a rapid rate. We can’t pretend that the highway system won’t grow too.

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    • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Do me a favor. Drive from Salem to Portland at 1 am. Can you not maintain the speed limit the entire way? Yes? Great. The highway is fine. It’s not over capacity.

      Spending millions to benefit single occupancy drivers for daylight hours is wasteful.

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      • Smokey Bear March 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm

        Most of those drivers are paying taxes so they are helping to pay for the roads they use. More folks able to get to work means more taxes collected.

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        • Dan A March 3, 2017 at 7:17 am

          Source?

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      • 9watts March 2, 2017 at 6:14 pm

        Um, you couldn’t be more wrong.

        Given that the average driver vastly underpays for the social, economic, environmental costs his driving generates, doing more of it would be digging the hole deeper.

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      • Matt S. March 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        How much does one contribute to society when they have to commute three hours a day round trip on a bus for barely above minimum wage? Oh and the last two miles of their commute—they’re the only one on the bus—pretty great when the bus gets 6-8 miles per gallon. At least it’s a B20 blend at $3.85 per gal! Just think, with the wasted two hours of time—one could have exercised, volunteered, coached little league, cooked a homemade meal, tutored their child, took their dog for a walk. But nope, they gotta read on the bus instead. At least it’s a good mystery.

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    • wsbob March 2, 2017 at 11:06 am

      “…We can’t pretend that the highway system won’t grow too.” jf

      Grow…to where? Widening existing highways, meaning freeways, isn’t much of an option…no room to widen them. I’ve never been to Germany…but for the brief time I looked at a map of the country, it seemed the entire country was criss-crossed with closely spaced roads.

      Not sure how many of them are only smaller capacity roads, and how many are freeways. Even so, is the fate of the entire Willamette Valley with all its cities, to succumb to the fate of countries that have sacrificed all or most of their broad expanses of open land, to freeways and relentless freeway driving?

      I feel kind of bad for all the people in the very long line of backed up traffic anyone can see from an overpass over Hwy 217, at least five days a week, and maybe all seven. They’re literally spending hours of their live stuck in their cars in slow moving to stop and go traffic. They hold on the illusion that it’s possible to build out of the congestion they’re in. I don’t see that happening. If someone has a good vision of what area freeway that really would reduce congestion would be…I’d like to read about it in at least some actual dimensions…rather than just vague references to the freeways becoming ‘wider’.

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    • Chris I March 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      We don’t have to pretend. Many cities around the world have added massively to their population without adding or widening freeways. How many freeways have they built in London in the past 20 years as it gained 2 million new residents?

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  • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Do any of these projects create, maintain or enhance a regional trail on each side of the highway or do only cars get direct routes?

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    • wsbob March 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I once knew a guy that thought a great idea would be to have a bike lane distanced away from Hwy 217; so, let’s say 100′ away or so…within viewing distance of people driving on the freeway, but away from the noise and danger from motor vehicle traffic for the people riding the bike lane.

      People stuck in stop and go on the freeway, could look over and see people on their bikes, clipping right along at 15mph or so. Thought is that the sight might be a kind of an incentive to ride for some people stuck in their motor vehicles in stop and go traffic.

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  • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Hello, Kitty
    Sure; then we just need to build more. Adding supply is how you deal with increasing demand, right?
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    Google “the Katy freeway”

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 9:32 am

      I know more capacity is not always the answer to more demand. I was trying to illustrate that some people who totally get induced demand in the highway context fall into the same trap that climate deniers do: they don’t like the ramifications so they deny the facts.

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      • Dan A March 2, 2017 at 9:43 am

        That’s a pretty high-brow explanation for a pointless comment.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 10:20 am

        Yeah… but then I’ve even responded to Specialized Hard Trump Tail Lover.

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      • Dan A March 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

        Ha!

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  • Gary B March 2, 2017 at 10:32 am

    I hate so much about this, but damn I wish we could have those new caps/connections in the Rose Quarter without any of the downsides.

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    • Chris I March 2, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      The Rose Quarter is the most palatable of these projects. If we are going to keep our urban freeways, any major project done on them needs to work to mitigate the negative externalities of their existence. I-405 should have a lid through downtown, and portions of I-84 and I-5 in North Portland could potentially be covered some day.

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  • dan March 2, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Middle of the Road Guy
    That tells me they don’t have other options that are better.
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    Well, they don’t have other options that they _perceive_ to be better, right? I can take a C-Tran bus from downtown to the Camas park and ride in under 45 minutes during rush hour, while reading a book or catching up on e-mail. I think for most people in this forum, that option would be objectively better, but we know a lot of people make the choice to sit in traffic in their SOVs instead.

    I don’t see the argument for us, as taxpayers, to subsidize those motorists’ inefficiency. We’re essentially saying “Oh, you don’t want to sit next to someone you don’t know on the bus? Let’s spend money we don’t have to keep you happy.”

    Why? Given a tenth of that money, what could C-tran and/or Tri-Met do to improve their service / make it more attractive? As a taxpayer, I want the best ROI for my tax dollar, and that is NOT achieved by subsidizing/enabling SOVs.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      Are you including time to get to C-Tran, time to get from C-Tran to final destination in Portland, or the possible need to do other things with a car during the day (visit clients, run errands, etc.)?

      It’s easy to make a judgement about the “better option” for other people, but don’t be surprised when they disagree. Understanding why they disagree is important.

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      • dan March 2, 2017 at 4:59 pm

        For me personally, time to C-tran plus travel time to my office in Portland is about 6 minutes. Based on what I observe in town during the day, it seems pretty obvious to me that the vast majority of SOV commuters are parking their cars during the day, only using them to commute in and out. There are solutions like Car2Go and Flexcar for those needs during the day in any case.

        I mean, by all means, let’s get the facts, I admit I’m just making assumptions about how people use their cars during the day, but the fact that there is negligible traffic in town during the day suggests to me that the uses you proposed aren’t a factor for the majority of people.

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      • dan March 2, 2017 at 5:01 pm

        Followup – I bet some of us know people who do this kind of hard commute in traffic. Why do they say they do it? For my coworkers, there is one for whom transit isn’t a good option based on where she lives. For the others, it was pretty much “I don’t like riding the bus, I’d rather complain about traffic.”

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        Maybe we need better buses if we want to encourage more people to use them. Some of the tech companies have been working on that problem for their employees who want to live in SF, but commute to San Jose, a hellish drive during rush hour.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 2, 2017 at 5:28 pm

        Or maybe we should stop subsidizing tech companies to locate their offices in the car-dependent hinterlands.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty March 3, 2017 at 9:16 am

          Totally agree, but don’t think there are too many subsidies for tech companies to locate in Silicon Valley. Some are starting to relocate to San Francisco, where, fortunately, their employees can afford to live.

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      • Matt S. March 2, 2017 at 7:39 pm

        I took c-tram from downtown Portland to Salmon Creek park and ride and then walked over to the hospital. All said and done, 70 minutes door to door. 25 minutes door to door by car.

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        • dan March 3, 2017 at 10:22 pm

          25 minutes door to door by car during rush hour? So there’s no meaningful congestion problem then?

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          • Matt S. March 4, 2017 at 11:15 am

            Not heading North there isn’t.

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            • Matt S. March 4, 2017 at 11:15 am

              Reverse commute.

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    • wsbob March 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      “…Given a tenth of that money, what could C-tran and/or Tri-Met do to improve their service / make it more attractive? …” dan

      Equally, and really even more important: with the regional and community planning present in the metro area today, for that amount of money, or even the whole amount…could mass transit be sufficiently expanded, streamlined and generally upgraded to be able to substitute for the travel needs people today use freeways for?

      Even with slow, stop and go travel, the traffic on the freeways represents a huge amount of miles, very significant parts of which are personal miles to people’s houses, jobs, etc, after they’ve driven away from the freeways. In our area today, for many people using the freeway with personal cars, I’m doubtful that bus routes provide direct to your door travel. That’s a major problem.

      For a long time, motor vehicles, and roads, highways and freeways, have been simpler ways for cities and states to meet people’s day to day travel needs, than have been mass transit such as trains and buses. It’s only because the system of travel that freeways, etc have in past, successfully been able to provide for…has now in so many cities across the nation, effectively reached capacity…that continuing efforts to expand again to try meet growing needs, are being met with increasing bewilderment.

      We, citizens of our tri-county area, but also, of the nation, have a dilemma. We here in Oregon could replicate the big city freeway networks and resulting congestion of cities such as L.A. and others…but do Oregonians really want to do that. If they do, it’s a new thing. Oregonians have a tradition of some renown for resisting the repeat in this state, of mistakes made by other states. I hope that tradition will not be let go by the wayside. Oregonians have got to collectively come up with better ideas for meeting people’s travel needs than simply succumbing to the lure of freeway expansion, because people in other states did it, and the people there got used to the resulting, negative change.

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  • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Hello, Kitty
    You did not use that word, but if you are talking about how horrible home ownership is, and how you would prefer to move to an apartment, it seems reasonable to conclude that, for you, apartment living would be an upgrade.
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    I get you are taking this as “first world problems”. Whatever. Yes, I would much rather live in an apartment with a nice little lawn and a one car garage. I would rather not have neighbors that are selfish about single family housing and spreadingt their fear of everything from power lines to brown people.

    But, good luck finding a real selection of town homes or apartments given the market place. Single family home ownership is a cancer that plagues cities. It creates massive traffic among other things. So yeah, I would trade If the cost were similar.

    By the way, if one is dying for single home ownership, it’s out there. Move father out or create an LLC with a friend and split the cost. Better yet, lobby for more townhomes and to upzone option everything within 82 blocks of downtown.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 2, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      I didn’t say, or imply, any of that; if you see apartment living as an upgrade, there’s nothing wrong with that (but I’ll warn you that most apartments don’t come with lawns or one-car garages).

      If we’re headed down the road towards “XXXX people are racist”, you’ll have to go alone, because I just won’t demonize demographic groups based on whatever stereotypes, fearmongering, or scapegoating is the daily special.

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    • Matt S. March 2, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      None of the new apartments that I’m seeing built have a yard or a garage. Maybe a townhouse or a duplex, but then we’re right back a space efficiency arguments.

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  • GlowBoy March 2, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    David Hampsten
    I have a supply-side example for you – it’s called “moving”, as in moving away from unaffordable communities. There are many affordable high-density cities in the US, but no longer any on the west coast. Many are in the Midwest – St. Louis, St Paul, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, etc. Yeah, they all have crime, but then so does Portland. Don’t like the weather? Then move out here to NC. We had 75 degrees today with evening thunderstorms.
    The reality is that the longer you stay in a community you cannot afford, the harder it is to move – high financial costs, loss of friends, ease of getting around, etc. I lived in Portland for 18 years and put off moving beyond the point of affordability. On the other hand, moving is also an opportunity to explore new places and cultures, to live in an environment out of your comfort zone, a bit like staying in obscure town in Europe where people happen to speak English, but with peculiar non-Oregonian accents. It’s even possible to enjoy a new place. In spite of HB2, NC is kinda neat, believe it or not.
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    “It’s called ‘moving.'”

    That’s what I did. Although I love Portland (and am glad to be able to visit regularly) I don’t regret my move to Minneapolis. Got a lot more for my housing dollar (even though this is considered an expensive place by Midwest standards), comparable culture, comparable or better bike-friendliness and transit options, more snow to play in, fantastic nature in town (hell, literally in my backyard) instead of an hour’s drive away in the mountains, and way more sunshine.

    You cannot in any legal way “cap” the number of people who live somewhere. You can at least abandon blatantly pro-growth policies, sure, but ultimately if people want to move somewhere they will. Portland is a victim of its success: so good at making itself livable that everyone has heard about it and wants to move there.

    The only really effective way to limit growth will be to make the place less livable and discourage people. And effectively that is what the market is doing now. A big reason, in my opinion, for skyrocketing rents is that for fifty years Portland effectively (and wrongheadedly) prohibited apartment construction through its strict zoning laws. Build all the new units you want, but they’ll be expensive. New construction is expensive. Affordable housing is depreciated housing. Portland doesn’t have much of a stock of 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 year old apartments. That’s a big OOPS that will take a long time to right itself, causing a lot of pain in the process.

    Like David said, one limited solution is for some of us to move away, and not only take pressure off the demand for housing, but advocate for Portland-style solutions to growth and transportation in our new homes (which I’m pretty active in doing), and try to dissuade others from moving to places like Portland. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had in the last two years with people who glowed about how great they heard Portland is, some of whom seemed pretty serious about making the move. I always tell people, “yes, Portland is great, but….” In almost every case the “but” was news to them – they were unaware of the employment situation or current housing prices. In other words, they hadn’t given the economic side of things enough thought. I’m pretty sure my wife and I are personally responsible for helping dissuade several people from moving to Portland.

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