Portland’s broken: Aerial Tram edition

From boondoggle to nuisance. Vera Katz said the Aerial Tram would be Portland’s postcard … more like poster child for a city adrift.

A 35-square-foot metal panel fell an estimated 130 feet from the Portland Aerial Tram, hitting a 21-year-old woman in the head as she walked down the stairway of a Southwest Portland pedestrian bridge Tuesday morning.

35 square feet = 7 feet by 5 feet. Looks like PBOT’s going to be writing a six figure check to the PSU student who was hit.

Congestion’s up, TriMet ridership is down, City Hall blames Uber and Lyft

The Cold War between City Hall and ridesharing companies (and the people who use them), is beginning to heat up.

PBOT, enlisted the City Council last month to authorize an $80,000 to $130,000 consultants’ study of how Uber, Lyft and taxis are affecting Portland’s traffic congestion.

That’s a lot of money for one study. When Portland city government pays that much money for a study, then you know the conclusions have already been written.download

Taking the Development out of the Portland Development Commission

Now we know why PDC became Prosper Portland. The Portland Business Journal reports:

In a surprise turn of events on one of the city’s most prominent development opportunities, ZRZ Realty — the real estate arm of the Zidell family business — and the city of Portland have terminated a development agreement that would have paved the way for a massive amount of development in the South Waterfront.

There’s more:

ZRZ and Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development arm, had entered into a development agreement in 2015 which called for Prosper Portland — then known as the Portland Development Commission — to invest an estimated $23.7 million for infrastructure, transportation, economic development, greenway and open space improvements at the site.

Keep Portland Weird: No money for parks, but plenty for new streetcars

In the face of budget pressures that could close four popular community centers, this week Portland city council found enough money to approve a $10 million plan to buy two streetcars from a Pennsylvania-based company. The deal provides an option for the city to buy additional vehicles at some point in the future. There’s always plenty of money for streetcars.

Other cities, like Washington, DC, are taking a different approach: They’re considering ditching their failing streetcar fleets. Funny thing about DC … three of the streetcars they’re abandoning are identical to the Portland streetcars made by the now-defunct Oregon boondoggle known as United Streetcar. (Maybe Portland could buy those streetcars for something way less than $10 million …)

But wait, there’s more. Dan Bower, Portland Streetcar Inc.’s executive director said the company is in the preliminary planning stages for a potential 2.4-mile, $80 million extension of its Northwest Portland streetcar toward Montgomery Park. There’s always more money for streetcars.

Recent streetcar ridership numbers are down about 3 percent from the same time last year. But even those numbers should be viewed skeptically, as Portland Streetcar has a history of significantly inflating it’s ridership numbers, as shown in the figure below from an city auditor’s report.

Portland transportation director’s aspiration: “Decommission” I-5

Tweets from last night’s One City / Many Futures presentation report that the Portland’s transportation director, Leah Treat, has found support for “decommissioning” Interstate 5 running through the city.

Treat herself later tweeted that decommissioning I-5 is an “aspiration” of hers.

This naturally raised questions about what PBOT’s director actually meant by “decommissioning.”

She responded with a link to Wikipedia:

decommissioned highway is a highway that has been removed from service, has been shut down, or has had its authorization as a national, provincial or state highway removed. Decommissioning can include the complete or partial demolition or abandonment of an old highway structure because the old roadway has lost its utility, but such is not always the norm.

In an interview after her presentation, Treat dodges the question of “scrapping” the I-5 expansion, but goes into some detail PBOT’s dream to cap I-5 at Broadway (at 3:30 in the video).