Bridges: reduce and reuse before recycle

Posted in Public Works, Transport at 12 pm

As noted on Portland Metblogs:

The Columbia River Crossing project needs input from the public, and the current feedback period is only open until July 1.

This is a really serious issue. They have absolutely no reason to take out the existing bridges. They are structurally sound, effective for ship passage, and recently repainted. Sure, they aren’t wide enough, but thats why we ADD to them.

Whatever solution is put together, I think it’s important that it look at reusing what already exists and make it easy to add onto it later (which the existing pair of bridges don’t do), remembering that this stage will only be one more step into the future use of this road/rail/path. We should not only use what’s available today, but also look to the future so that we can expand and be flexible with the changing tides of time.

(Hell, once we get the hovercars, we won’t need the bridges, right?)


Powell’s to expand flagship store

Posted in Design, Public Works at 9 pm

It’s about flippin’ time:

The independent bookstore has hired architect Ernest Munch to create a store design that adds at least one floor of retail space at the corner of West Burnside and 10th Avenue, it announced today. Powell’s said the corner could grow by as many as three stories. Demolition of the Green and Blue rooms is tentatively to begin in two years, with plans to reopen that section of the store in November 2010. – BizJournals

Powell’s is going to rip down one of the ugliest parts of Burnside, and more than likely, whatever they put up will be 1000x better than what’s there:

Powell's Books, at sunset, looking NW from the corner of 10th and Burnside, Portland, Oregon, USA
Image courtesy of Oregon.com

The one story-brutalist building that is the front door of what is arguably the most famous retail location in Portland. But it’s ugly like yo’ mamma. It’s ugly like this is where they get the ugly books to learn how to make the ugly sticks! Ever since the similarly designed Henry Weinhards production room was torn down to make room for a new (if not entirely beautiful then at least interesting) tower, this has been one of the travesties of West Burnside. That’s not to say that other building in the area couldn’t use a good leveling… (cough Car Toys cough) but this is Powell’s!

Powell’s did a remarkable job with the opposite corner of their little Kingdom of Books. The 11th and Couch entrance and facade is beautiful, in fact the only real problem with it is that there’s no longer any room around it to enjoy the view. The five story quarter-block was a major upgrade and kept the book store on par with the swanky upturn that the Pearl District was coming out of.

I’m sure that this had to be part of a master plan of some sort. The ‘new’ addition at 11th and Couch added a beautiful check-out counter layout with enough slots to hold down the fort while the real front doors are closed down.

If Powell’s can make a similar advancement and maybe even a better one, then Portland might get a brand new money-shot to put on the postcards. Com’ on guys, get it right!


Relating to written documents produced by agencies of state government.

Posted in Life, Public Works at 3 pm

This is a House Bill 2702 that was approved by the State of Oregon:

Relating to written documents produced by agencies of state government.

(2) Every agency of state government shall ensure that written documents produced by the agency for purposes of communicating with the public, whether presented on paper or through electronic media, conform to plain language standards.

It seems almost… revolutionary! Good on Oregon. Washington’s governor did something similar, (by fiat) last year. However, the Oregon was bill was approved by the House, Senate, and the Governor. I can’t help but think that this might be the way to start making everything more accessible to the layman. At the very least it’s a start.


Portland to the MAX

Posted in Life, Public Works at 11 am

Over at Metroblogging Portland Banana Lee Fishbones posits that Tri-Met should run around underground the MAX and give up on adding the MAX into the Bus Mall mix.

I’m not a big fan of digging up Portland’s streets, but here’s my response:

BLF: […] I agree with you about the need for alternatives in the Tri-Met plan. This whole idea of taking what is normally a longer distance service (The only route that stretches from G’town to B’ton.) and making. it. stop. every. two. or. so. blocks. in. the. middle. of. down. town. makes no sense to me at all. MAX ought to be a backbone route, dropping people off at half a dozen strategic locations in the core and then getting back to a ‘stops every half mile’ sort of style.

Have they even thought about how many riders they’re going to pick up on the trains that are only as long as a euro-style shorten city block? Those trains are going to be OVERFILLED between downtown and Rose Quarter.

Here’s my thought: run two lines of rail branching off of the existing MAX line.

A) one that breaks off the Steel bridge on the west bank, runs up Everet/Glisan thru Old Town/Perl/Northwest and swings around to catch up with the main line at Civic Stadium. (Yes, you heard me _Civic Stadium_). This brings better service to all the Yuppies in the Pearl and NW and brings down the number of commuters clogging those streets. When the area becomes a shanty town in 30 years, the residents will really need the mass transit options even more.

My Proposed Plan for MAX for 2009 Legend

  • Blue: MAX (Existing & Planned)
  • Red: MAX (My Proposed route on 99e and LO Commuter Rail)
  • Green: Streetcar (Existing & My Proposed Mississippi/Hollywood/Woodstock extensions)

B) Then run a line from Lloyd Center, down 11th/12th to Powell, setting up for a Moreland/ Milwaukee shot south along 99E. Get down to at least SE Tacoma, then shoot a branch off towards the river. We can build a replacement for the Sellwood bridge that includes a MAX deck, and then run the MAX up the old Lake Oswego commuter rail line up into downtown, either staying on the street car line, or hopping onto the rest of the under-used 1st avenue that the exisiting MAX is already using downtown.

In fill some major arteries with street car and now we’ve got a multi-modal hub/spokes/ring around greater Portland, with MAX able to handle a large amount of the commuter traffic that’s pounding the roads in the area, freeing up bus service to support more regular runs in smaller neighborhood hubs.

This is a little Southeast-centric, but hey, we’ve got to make up for the Mt Hood Freeway somehow, right?