Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Portland Shows the Way

Down south of Newcastle in a state called ‘Oregon’ they have a city called Portland. It’s the main city in Oregon. Haha, get it? ‘Maine’ city? Try and keep up.

Portland also claims to be a west coast port city (hence the name) serving hundreds of thousands of cargo ships between America and Asia. I suppose. Who really knows?

Portland knows how to run a city. Look on Topeka (formerly Google April 1, 2010) and you find the city of Portland has its own web site. Hell, I have one, so it’s no big deal. I just don’t have a clue what good it is for me to have a website.

Anyway, right on the home page of the Portland Oregon website they give you a chance to “pay online.” How cool is that? Pay what? It doesn’t matter – just send some money and see what happens. Maybe you’ll get better water in your house.

If you navigate to Transit Options there are 15. Walking is the first one. Skates and skateboarding is the last one. Somewhere near the middle is Mass Transit.

The recent Trains Magazine says Portland is a Transit Friendly City. They should name it that to avoid the confusion with Portland, Maine. “Visit Transit Friendly City, Oregon and be sure to bring your umbrella” might be their slogan.

Portland operates a light rail system that’s been in place for years. It’s called “MAX” for some reason. Oh, it stands for Metropolitan Area Express. Express has been revised to start with X since MAE would sound a little wimpy.

Right now MAX has four lines. They are the Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow lines. That’s pretty good. Most painters can get along with these four colors because you can mix them and get most of the other colors.

Portland has a big advantage over Seattle. First of all Renton is about 200 miles north of Portland but its right next to Seattle. Second the body of water that splits the city is only a river. They can build bridges over the river. None of them are floating bridges. Thus very few have sunk over the years.

MAX is getting a new cable stay bridge over the river in Portland. It will be for the light rail, buses, bikes, and pedestrians. No cars. Fords and Chevys have to use the old bridges.

This is progressive and innovative. It won’t happen in Seattle. Lake Washington is no river. It’s 40 miles wide more or less and current neighbors say they can’t build a bridge unless it floats. Actually they don’t want any bridge at all. Thus our only Lake Washington bridges are floating. At least at the time of this writing they still are. That keeps them under the “view” that everyone is so worried about.

Portland is showing the way. Their light rail system, MAX, will be the primary user of the new cable stay bridge. It will not allow cars. Why is that significant? Cost. Cars require multiple lanes and shoulders where the police can pull you over for talking on a cell phone. That means a big wide bridge. Transit bridges are narrow. One lane each way. Pedestrians and bikes are much lighter than a big Diamond T.

The new cable stay bridge design is one people seem to like. It needs to soar way up over the river to allow ships to pass underneath. Cable stay is picturesque in keeping with the ambiance of shimmering Portland.

We want one of those. Lake Boren could use a picturesque cable stay bridge. It could link the library to the transit center. Pedestrians and bikes only. Glen, the Lake Boren Carp, will not allow any bridge that carries vehicles.


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