This is veteran transportation activist Jim Howell’s new concept for the central east side: a bike-rail corridor and second-story commercial district running over the Union Pacific railroad tracks and across three bridge landings.
Welcome to the first of a new feature on BikePortland: a brief look at the life or work of an extraordinary local person.
Jim Howell. (Photo by J.Maus)
When Jim Howell was 37, he organized the first demonstrations that eventually turned Harbor Drive into Waterfront Park. At 40, working as an independent architect, he drew up the design for Northeast Portland’s Woodlawn Park. At 41, he sat on the citizens’ committee that recommended Portland’s first MAX line. At 48, while working for TriMet, he engineered the west-side bus node now known as Beaverton Transit Center. At 51, he co-founded a private van service between Portland and the Oregon coast, a predecessor to today’s Wave bus. At 77, he co-created the plan that became the most prominent alternative to the Columbia River Crossing.
Now, two months before his 80th birthday, Howell has designed his first transportation concept that puts bikes front and center.
Portland’s self-image as an economic laggard has never looked more outofdate than it does right now in the longtime industrial district on the Central Eastside.
And the rising appeal of low-car-friendly life on Portland’s eastside grid is busting an even older stereotype: that getting a good-paying job means heading west.
“A lot of the talent, especially that a lot of these young tech companies already have or are going after as they grow, tend to live on the east side, and appreciate the culture and the types of amenities found on the east side,” said Leonard Barrett, project manager for Beam Development‘s new Eastside Exchange building.