The Oregon Transportation Plan is the long-range transportation system plan for the state. The Oregon Transportation Commission guides the Portland Value Pricing Policy Advisory (Congestion Pricing) as part of the Keep Oregon Moving legislation (HB 2017).
For the past three years Metro and their partners have been working to update the Regional Transportation Plan. The Regional Transportation Plan is a blueprint to guide investments for all forms of travel– motor vehicle, transit, bicycle and walking – and the movement of freight throughout the greater Portland region.
The bridge is the first issue discussed in the “Tough Topics” section of the draft Washington Transportation Plan — 2040 and Beyond, a long-term transportation plan created by the Washington State Transportation Commission.
The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council supports the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge with high-capacity transit with a dedicated guideway. The 2014 RTP for Clark County is their long-range, regional transportation plan.
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek wants to sit down with Washington lawmakers before the end of 2018 to discuss replacing the Interstate Bridge. But consensus on what’s needed or how to pay for it is tricky. Then there’s the problem of more lanes equals more traffic. Here’s a video explaining How to Fix Traffic Forever.
Oregon’s Regional Transportation Plan
Oregon’s Regional Transportation Plan outlines transportation priorities for the next 25 years.
The RTP includes over $42 billion of investment in the regional transportation system over the next 25 years split between $27 billion for maintenance/operations and $15 billion for capital projects. A quick look at the interactive map shows some big projects like:
➤ The I-5, I-205, and OR 217 freeway expansions
➤ The Division Transit project
➤ I-5 Bridge replacement to Vancouver (formerly known as the Columbia River Crossing), estimated to cost $3+ billion
➤ Streetcar extension on Broadway to Hollywood Transit Center
➤ SW Corridor Light Rail
➤ NE 42nd Ave Bridge Replacement including bike facilities
The Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion is ODOT’s current priority, with the Interstate Bridge the next big budget item.
Many organizations and Portland community members are against the proposed freeway expansion on the grounds that it encourages more traffic, and just compounds the problem. They believe improved mass transit with autonomous transit, carshare and scooters for the last mile is a better approach.
Congestion costs Portland commuters $1.76 billion in time and fuel in 2014, according to a 2015 analysis by the Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. Gas for a car costs about $.12 per mile while electricity costs about $.04 per mile.
Transportation trends are clear:
(1) Electric transportation will dominate
(2) Self-driving everything
(3) Tunneling normalized
(4) Airport Skytaxis
(5) Car/Scooter Sharing
(6) Smart Cities
Some studies predict that by 2030, 95% of U.S. passenger miles will be delivered by autonomous electric vehicles. By 2030 you probably won’t own a car – instead on-demand electric autonomous vehicles will be used.
Using these trends, here’s what I’d do:
A New Vision for Shared Transportation
(1) Congestion from Vancouver.
The Interstate Bridge carries some 135,000 vehicles daily. Why not siphon 10%-25% of that freeway traffic onto mass transit? The earlier proposed bridge had NO lift section, requiring an the above the water TWICE AS HIGH than the current hump.
The 15% maximum grade would require an interstate bridge to tower 3-4 stories above Hayden Island, creating a dark cloud of diesel particulates, noise and pollution that would last 100 years and likely be obsolete before it was built.
In my view, a small, dedicated bike/autonomous transit line using 8-12 passenger, rubber-tired, battery operated people movers could connect Vancouver to the Expo Center much faster and cheaper. A smaller, lighter, cheaper bridge. No operator. Bechtel’s Airport Max line might be a business model. In partnership with a real estate developer, a new community might be constructed near the Columbia — along with the mass transit connections — at NO cost to taxpayers. It would go down better with commuters than congestion pricing on existing freeways.
(2) I-5 Congestion.
A tunnel connecting Vancouver to Memorial Coliseum (7-8 miles) may be cheaper than a new highway with dramatically lower real estate acquisition costs. Autonomous transit could deliver you directly to your destination. The Orange Line cost $200 million a mile.
Musk has promised the Chicago “loop” to O’Hare will be about $55 million per mile. City-scale, subway-style “Loops” send electric cars and shuttles through much smaller tunnels, lowering costs. Higher-speed, intercity Hyperloops might use vacuum tubes (in the future). A tunnel connecting Vancouver to Memorial Coliseum (7-8 miles) may be cheaper than a new highway (if you believe Musk) with dramatically lower real estate costs. Autonomous transit, carshare, scooters and bikes could then deliver you directly to your destination.
(3) Downtown Congestion.
The Coliseum Hub moves commuters to their destination via platoons of people movers. Hold 8-12 people. No new infrastructure required. No rails. No overhead power. Use existing streets.
(4) Car/Bike Share. Free.
Solar-powered electric scooter hubs, every 4-6 blocks, could generate $1,000+/month AND provide 1 hr scooter/bike rental for free, daily. Where’s the money coming from? They’re platforms for small cells and advertising. In 6 months they generate $6000. They’re profitable when FREE. Portland State is showing how it’s done.
Uber Elevate plans flying taxis to take off in DubaiFort Worth and –Dallas in 2020. Two years. Sky Taxi’s WILL arrive YEARS before any Columbia River Bridge. Airbus first flew their automated Sky Taxi in 2017, at the Pendledon airport. Plan on Sky Taxis. It’s not just a hub at the Oldtown Heliport…it’s any parking garage. The PDX, MEMORIAL COLISEUM, HILLSBORO and PEARSON FIELD will be major transportation hubs. Plan on it.
A New Approach to Housing:
Portland is planning the Manufactured Dwelling Park (MDP) zoning project to stabilize the housing situation for people living in manufactured or mobile home parks by creating a new base zone for mobile home parks.
The City of Portland recognizes the importance of mobile home parks as an affordable housing option. These parks and the housing units in them provide some of most affordable housing in the city.
1. The purpose of this zoning change is to ensure long-term operations of manufactured dwelling parks. It will not force park owners to close parks, and it will not force park owners to raise rents.
2. Creating a new zone especially for manufactured and mobile home parks:
3. The recently adopted 2035 Comprehensive Plan established the importance of MDPs as an affordable housing option. Manufactured dwellings (including mobile homes) in manufactured dwelling parks provide some of Portland’s most affordable housing.
But development along the Columbia River may be inevitable. What to do? How about re-imagining one of the golf courses as a mixed use area for residents? The 38 acre South Waterfront development, by PDC and private developers, created a multimodal destination with new streets, parks, a streetcar, an aerial tram, and a light rail/pedestrian only bridge over the Willamette. The first $1.9 billion phase was the “River Blocks” development.
Redeveloping Golf Courses for Housing?
Four golf courses adjoin Hayden Island:
1. Heron Lakes Golf Course (http://www.heronlakesgolf.com/)
2. Columbia Edgewater Country Club (http://www.cecc.com/)
3. Riverside Golf and Country Club (https://riversidegcc.com/)
4. Broadmore Golf Course (http://www.broadmoor-1931.com)
They all have disadvantages. Heron Lakes Golf Course is next to the railroad tracks and PIR noise, has potential for flooding and is north of the sewage treatment plant, while Edgewater, Broadmore and Riverside are very close to the noisy airport.
Swapping wetlands for Development Near Rail
But what if you could buy 18 holes of the 36 hole Heron Lakes Golf Course, swap the Port’s Vanport Wetlands (next door to Expo) and relocate the wetlands to Heron Lakes. The vacated wetland space at the Expo Center could then be developed. A developer could buy 18 holes for wetland conversion. The Port would then move the wetlands from Expo to Heron Lakes and the developer gets (the now dry) Vanport Wetlands for development.
Heron Lakes Golf Club is a public, municipal golf facility that is owned by the City of Portland and operated by Portland Parks & Recreation. Heron Lakes is one of only a few public 36-hole golf facilities in the Pacific Northwest.
The Port of Portland maintains their wetlands footprint by swapping Vanport Wetlands for Heron Lakes. The developer acquires the old Vanport Wetlands from the Port, providing a more appropriate space for development.
Light Rail is conveniently next door. You could build 12 story high condos, inexpensive, container-style modular homes, and a mixed income community with water access.
This vision would accommodate all incomes with opportunities to socialize, incorporate higher density housing than the Manufactured Home Community, and provide river access to North Portland Harbor. It would provide the Port with more wetlands in the “bank”, and allow for new development without displacing low income home owners. Diversified Marine would be provided incentives to move towards the railroad bridge or Terminal 6.
Cross-laminated timber is the building material of choice for this liquifaction-prone area. Vancouver’s Waterfront development includes up to 3,300 residential units zoned for apartments, condominiums and senior housing. Timberhouse, a 12-story apartment with offices and ground-level retail, will include 251 apartments with 12,000 square feet of retail, built from cross-laminated timber, made by gluing, heating and pressing boards of lumber together to form large panels.
Timberhouse is expected to be 146 feet tall, which would make it the third-tallest building in Clark County, surpassed only by Smith Tower at 158 feet.
Buying the Hayden Island Manufactured Home Park could cost $100 million since there are 500 residents paying Lautrec $650-$1000/month for the property, while taking years in court and require fighting city hall. In addition, how would 1,000-2000 new residents get on and off the island?
The Port of Portland bought the land south of Expo. They promptly flooded it, creating the Vanport Wetlands. Why would they do such a thing? The Port needed to expand airport construction — so they traded their (poor) wetland space at the airport for new wetland space at Expo and paved over the “old” wetlands.
It was a good deal for everyone. The Port kept within their legal wetlands “footprint” by swapping their PDX wetlands for new Expo Center wetlands. Creating the Vanport Wetlands was better for both the Port and the wildlife, and enabled the Port to expand.
Moving Vanport Wetlands
Moving the Vanport Wetlands 1500 ft west to the Blue Heron Golf Course may not be a major ecological issue. It’s just a question of how much money and what makes sense. It would likely be cheaper and more practical than buying the MHC.
If a developer is truly interested in developing along the Columbia River, I think real estate with a light rail component would be the way to go. Next to the Expo Center would be a logical place. Could you remediate Heron Lakes Golf Course as the new wetlands? Maybe.
Portland-based CrowdStreet (www.crowdstreet.com/) founded in 2013, has raised $8 million to transform the commercial real estate industry. Real estate developers or operators can crowdfund capital and manage property offerings online.
Funding for Guerrilla Development’s Fair-Haired Dumbbell, a 56,000-square-foot creative office project at the Burnside Bridgehead, will come in part from $1.5 million in crowdfunding.
Kevin Cavenaugh, the architech/developer behind the Fair-Haired Dumbell explains it all in this AMAZING Ted Talk: