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rosecitytransit.org: transit in the rose city...maybe even Rose City Transit

The new Portland Mall wasn’t worth it

On many occasions, construction that requires a major disruption is the most feasible way to accomplish a project and get the best results. However, this was not true with adding a second MAX line through downtown Portland (or with renovating the Portland Mall). The selected plan (weaving the MAX line through the bus lanes) is not the best because:

In general, it appears that there has been much misinformation regarding this project. For example, in the March 2004 Preliminary CAC Recommendations on Conceptual Design, it states that “It enhances transit rider convenience by keeping all transit functions on one side of the street, which will require fewer street crossings.” However, since stops will be 5 blocks apart, longer walks will be required and street crossings will not go down. In addition, this document also claims that “It will provide the greatest future urban design and multi-modal flexibility on 5th and 6th Avenues to adjust to changes in demand and street use over time.” In reality, it will not be able to operate a high amount of either bus or MAX service and parking won’t be possible.

Instead, MAX could have been put underground (or elevated):

If grade-separating MAX really isn’t feasible, it could have been put in the left lane on the mall. MAX would not affect buses and stop spacing for both would be flexible. If increased vehicle access really does help business, there would be plenty of room for it in the bus lanes during off-peak periods.

Alternate mall configuration

A: Possible “shared left” bike/skate lane (seperated from pedestrians by bollards/trees)
B: Off-peak taxis/deliveries or autos
C: Possible curb extension to prevent conflicts between buses and right-turning autos, also makes buses in the center lane more visible to pedestrians, reducing crash risk.
D: Bus stop; some could be for peak-only lines and used for parking or deliveries off-peak.

Benefits:

Drawbacks:

Without MAX there, the left lane should be limited to bicycles and other human-powered vehicles during peak periods. Many users, especially newer ones, skaters and skateboarders, are not willing to mix with traffic. And while the Park Blocks are nice, none of the intersections are signalized. Overall, it would really show that Portland supports other forms of transportation.

"On the face of it, building light-rail along Interstate 205 to Clackamas County and installing it along Fifth and Sixth avenues, from Portland State University to Union Station, were two distinct projects. Had the federal government chosen to treat them that way, nothing would have happened downtown."
An inspired hookup, July 04, 2009, Oregonian editorial

Buses return to Portland’s revamped transit mall – OregonLive.com

City and TriMet sued for $760,000 – KOINLocal6.com (this was regarding access being limited to the entrance to the Standard Plaza parking garage on the right side of 5th Ave. If MAX was underground or on the left side of the street, direct access from 5th could still be safely allowed. In addition, there was another complaint with the Hotel Modera’s access to the right side of 6th being closed.)


By Jason McHuff, rctmail@jasonmchuff.net