Portland

Development in Portland

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This report, which is now a year old, details some of the development that has occurred in Portland since the streetcar alignment was selected:

The Portland Streetcar is at the heart of a new approach to shaping cities that promotes investment at the City‘s core, provides homes for people of diverse income groups and supports the urban amenities that make great cities great. Since 1997 when the original streetcar alignment was identified, properties along its length have experienced significant changes:
* $3.5 billion has been invested within two blocks of the streetcar alignment.
* 10,212 new housing units and 5.4 million square feet of office,
institutional, retail and hotel construction have been constructed within two blocks of the alignment.
* 55% of all CBD development since 1997 has occurred within 1-block of the streetcar and properties located closest to the streetcar line more closely approach the zoned density potential than properties situated farther away.
* Developers are building new residential buildings with significantly lower parking ratios than anywhere else in the region.

How Smooth is the Ride on a Modern Streetcar?

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According to Jake Mecklenborg who recently took a trip out to Seattle and Portland, “Totally smooth. Less vibration and less noise than the tram at Cincinnati’s airport. The other thing is when you’re at a stop, there is no noise whatsoever aside from the chatter of other passengers since the motors turn off. No squeaking brakes, no surge when it accelerates.”

Portland Observations – Part 4

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My last post about Portland rail will explain the Light Rail system. First listen to the terminology: light rail. It may be lighter that a locomotive, but the light rail struck me as heavy, especially compared to the Streetcar.

Here is a train pulling up to a stop on a city street:

Instead of raising, just the area, where the stop is (as with the streetcar), for the trains, the entire sidewalk is raised to exactly meet the train floor:

In this photo, notice that the curb closest to the camera is raised with truncated domes and it sticks out a bit further than the rest of the curb. Also notice that there is no on-street parking here, and that there are only 2 drving lanes. This was probably a four lane street before conversion to Light Rail:

My experience is that the streets with the lightrail had lots of pedestrians and less car traffic. However, please note that the entire street, from building face to building face must be re-built to accomodate the LR. For the streetcar, only a strip of street is removed and only the stops are raised.

Here is a shot that I believe shows the Light Rail tracks crossing the Streetcar tracks:

LR at Pioneer Square showing the widened sidewalks:

People getting on and off at Pioneer Square:

Showing level entry and bike inside:

Inside a crowded train:

Another interior shot:

Wheelchair on LR train:

Stroller on LR train:

We took the Blue line three different places. First we took it west, out to Orenco, a newer suburb. Then we came back into town and on the way stopped at their zoo. The next day we took the train the other direction, to the airport. The train runs extremely smooth. After getting out of town, and off the streets to separated grade tracks, I was initially dissapointed, because the train didn’t seem to be going very fast. Later, I noticed that the we were keeping pace with cars on the freeway, so it must have been going at least 50mph.

This western route passes their minor league team stadium a few blocks before going into a long sloping tunnel:

Here is a development at the Beaverton Stop:

Bagel shop, parking lot and housing at another suburban stop:

Here is multi-family housing under construction near the stop:

Here is the train at the Orenco stop:

In this shot you see the suburban street and sidewalks crossing the tracks:

Train discharge at the airport:

Here is a picture of the train maintenance building. The sheds for the streetcar were much smaller:

Here is a train parked at the maintenance yards. I think the typical train is two of these backed up to each other:

The fare system is similar to the Streetcar, and all tickets are transferable to bus and rail. The trains seemed very popular, especially to the airport. I made the trip to Orenco on a Sunday so I didn’t witness much commuting. Most of the people were getting off at the Washington Park stop to go to the zoo or to hike.