Columbia Tube

This “bridge” moves people in a weather-resistant elevated pipeline.


Portland’s E-Scooter Pilot Program started April 26, 2019 and lasts until April 26, 2020. As many as 9,000 e-scooters could be cruising around Portland by January. Lime, Bolt and Spin were awarded permits to operate in Portland.


Four more companies — Clevr Mobility, Jump, Razor, and Shared Technologies are in “the final stages” of providing necessary information for a permit. Uber owns Jump while Lyft operates Portland’s Biketown (as well as its ride-sharing service). Meanwhile, the Daimler/BMW joint venture, Share Now, (previously known as Car2go), also did not receive an e-scooter permit in Portland.


Portland requires e-scooter firms to provide details such as unique e-scooter IDs and precise locations where trips start and end. Portland wants data showing where e-scooters are available to include in transportation apps such as Tri-Met’s Trip Planner, and to ensure partners abide by requirements to provide e-scooters in underserved neighborhoods.


The point is this: car sharing services like Share Now and Turo are here. So are bike/scooter sharing services like Lime, Bolt, Spin, Clevr, Jump, Razor and others. Uber and Lyft are here and will evolve into autonomous shuttles.


How does the city accommodate these forms of transportation?


One answer might be elevated bike/shuttle paths over highways. These bikeways wouldn’t carry trucks, cars or trains, just electric powered shuttles and bikes.


The enclosed cycleway can also generate renewable energy. A roof of solar cells generates power for neighborhood microgrids and charge stations. Small, autonomous shuttles, linking Vancouver and Hayden Island to the Expo Center Yellow Line, could also be a feature.


Some 125,000 vehicles cross the Interstate Bridge daily. Why not siphon 10%-15% of that freeway traffic onto mass transit? The five MAX lines averaged a total of 120,140 weekday passengers in March, with only 12,770 on the Yellow Line and 54,930 on the Blue Line.


The Tube wouldn’t require sophisticated autonomous vehicles to provide driverless transportion.


It could be a boon for business on both sides of the river. Uptown or downtown


The Calgary Peace Bridge accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists and is used by 6000 people a day and has ranked among the top 10 architectural projects in 2012.


Launched in 1986, Vancouver BC’s SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest fully-automated, driverless, rapid transit systems in the world.


The High Line going through Hudson Yards in NYC has been a popular reuse of an old railroad line. Bechtel’s Airport Max line might be a business model, in partnership with a real estate developer, a new community might be constructed on one of the golf courses near the Columbia — along with the mass transit connections — at NO cost to taxpayers. NO congestion pricing.


An upscale version might be modeled after the Køge North Station in Denmark. It could cross North Portland Harbor. It’s the southern section of the Columbia River, before you cross the main lift bridge.


It offers views of Mt St Helens and Hood, a warm wood-lined interior, and protection from sun and rain. No lift section required here.


This tube is wide enough to allow small shops in the enclosed pedestrian walkway. Shared electric vehicle transit could zip people between the Expo Center and Jantzen Beach on the south leg.

Small shops provide rental income. Like an airline concourse.


The Greater Paris region alone has 13 possible aerial trams in the pipeline.


A tunnel UNDER the Columbia might be the easiest and cheapest way to reduce congestion. People movers connect Vancouver to Hayden Island and the Yellow Line. Tri-Met already has the mass transit infrastructure built from Expo to Milwaukee.


The US DOT aims to help hyperloop and self-driving car projects. The Boring Company, is doing preliminary work on Loop projects in Los Angeles, Chicago and in the Baltimore-D.C. corridor. Virgin Hyperloop One plans connecting Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis.


Musk’s original idea for Hyperloops called for shooting streamlined pods at near-supersonic speeds, going from Seattle to Portland in 15 minutes. The idea has since been embellished to envision city-scale, subway-style “Loops” that send conveyances known as “skates” through underground tunnels, as well as the higher-speed, intercity Hyperloops.


The electric-powered “skates” might carry ordinary vehicles or people movers that carry up to 16 passengers at speeds of up to 150 mph.


You can see the Vancouver’s United Grain Terminal in upper left on this shot of Portland’s Union Station. It’s easy to imagine an 8-10 mile tunnel connecting downtown Vancouver to downtown Portland. “Skates” would carry ordinary vehicles (or autonomous cars/transit) between city centers.


No congestion. Less real-estate costs. All electric. Autonomous.


Guess what. The “last mile” problem has already been solved. Autonomous shuttles will be here long before a new I-5 bridge.