Portlandia Update: “WOW” Doesn’t Do It Justice

1. The Oregonian recently asked ” Where’s the Money to Fix 217? “ Faithful readers of The Wingard Report already know where to find the answer…in a multi-billion dollar wind tunnel running through the West Hills, aka westside light rail. From the article:

“Fixing 217 is low on the state’s priority list for several politically based reasons. The county already has enjoyed a generous slice of the transportation pie, with westside MAX and improvements to U.S. 26.”

Our leaders spent the last 20 years lobbying the federal government for light rail dollars and that’s why you’re sitting in traffic all the time. Transportation officials say it will take them 80 years to expand 217. Just in time, I say.

2. Speaking of boondoggles: Our friend Steve Schopp, who has been intensely following the TRAM disaster, recently came across this love letter from Lenny Anderson:

“The Tram is much better as kinetic art…as the rider is lifted from the riverside base, the view of the entire region will graduall(sic) unfold. No one will be looking down at Lair Hill. Take a ride on the 8 bus to the VA Hosp and walk across the ped bridge to OHSU Hosp. The view will knock your socks off, and the Tram will be even better. Surely Portland’s first “Wow’ project. “

To which Steve replied:

“guess I overlooked the “wow factor” just as Lenny overlooked the entire cost, financing, impacts, affordability, other needs and fiscal stability. Of course Lenny has also disregarded all of these other considerations when raised. It’s a remarkable phenomenon that one can disregard every measure of merit and legitimacy by simply applying a “wow”. I wonder how that would work if I were to head out one day, finance a Ferrari and start an adulterous affair with a hot young thing. After all, when my wife points out how we can’t afford the Ferrari and my affair is destructive to our marriage I’ll just explain to her the “wow” factor. “

The Portland Tribune also sees the problem.

(This article is one of many that are featured in the regular email magazine called the Wingard Report. To subscribe or learn more conatct Matt Wingard at [email protected])

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Posted by at 08:04 | Posted in Measure 37 | 5 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Wow?

    You mean the 10… no 15… no 45… no 55.5 million… No.. .. the 100 million dollar Tram?

    The folks living below the Tram are suing over the damage done to their property values…

    I bet they said wow.

    The riverfront development sat idle for 3 decades until the City needed a rationale for the tram…

    I bet the owners of the homes who saw their views destroyed said wow.

    When you look at Portland the city has been zoned so that short buildings line the river with taller buildings behind to preserve that balanced ‘look’ and gradiation up the hills.

    That has been tossed out the window.

    Now 325 foot tall towers are going up creating a whole new downtown on Macadam…

    A road without infrastructural improvements that will now have to handle 37,000 daily commutes…

    Including the unimproved Sellwood bridge that saw it’s repairs put off as it’s funds were diverted to the… Tram.

    I bet all those commuters will say… WOW.

    As they sit in the worst traffic congestion in North America.

  • We need to serriously look at improving Hwy 217. There is no reason that economic development should be stopped as a result of poor appropriation. I’m glad I subscribe to the Wingard Report so I can stay informed of the mismanagement of my tax dollars and direct my rage toward the appropriate outlets.

  • In response to the story about Highway 217, I submitted this op-ed to the Oregonian outlining my thoughts and priorities.

    Dom Biggi
    Candidate for House District 27

    Washington County Residents Should be Surprised to Learn 217 isn’t a Priority

    Portland’s power-brokers are telling us that improvements to Highway 217 are not a high-priority. This should be surprising news to the tens of thousands of people who drive, or sit, on the highway everyday.

    As a member of the Highway 217 Policy Advisory Committee, I can tell you the current four-lane highway is headed for perpetual gridlock. Our committee learned that “peak hours of congestion” on the highway will grow to eight hours. Within 20 years, traffic on Highway 217 will nearly be inescapable.

    The Portland metropolitan area has many transportation needs, but I would argue very few are as important as adding two lanes to 217. The highway is the economic backbone of Beaverton and several other cities in Washington County. It is a vital north-south link that connects the local populace to their homes and jobs, and gives consumer access to scores of local business. Highway 217 is also a vital commercial link and, in fact, freight traffic has doubled in the past 10 years. Additional dollars for light-right, while well-intentioned, will do little to ease congestion.

    The politics of “priority lists” is a poor excuse for doing nothing. Regional politicians are always reluctant to side-step the conventional process of selecting road projects. However, this process means we will have to wait decades before Highway 217 is even considered.

    To improve Highway 217, we will need to be creative, and we will need the commitment of leaders at all levels of government. We need local leaders to engage the community on how Highway 217 should be improved, and the kind of financing that would be acceptable to them. We need our leaders in Washington D.C. to continue to work to secure federal dollars to get the project underway. We need leaders in Salem to assure the state is a productive partner in implementing the project.

    Transportation planning and finance is complex and very political. Over 10 years ago the people of Washington County were promised that, instead of a Westside bypass, Highway 217 improvements would be made. Nothing has changed, and traffic continues to pile-up. As Highway 217 slows, so does our local economy. We need to make Highway 217 a top priority, because we simply can’t afford the costs of doing nothing.

  • And the $500 million for a project that won’t reduce overall congestion comes from… er. Oops. I thought we were supposed to be reducing the burden on taxpayers, not building pork projects.

    Seriously — who should pay for this boondoggle, that will look the tram look like kid’s stuff?

  • sherman

    Help 217 by extending another Tram line from the top of the OHSU hill down to the Beaverton Round.

  • JERRY!!!! Long time no seee. Welcome back to the right side of things (I’m sure your filling with bile as we speak). SOoooo get your google facts ready and settle in. This argument can get fun.

    First off – Additionally freeways do reduce overall congestion in the short term. The “problem” (as you liberals call it) is that additional infrastructure causes a little thing called economic growth. Economic growth causes more cars, more transportation and more wealth for Oregon.

    I know wealth is evil. But its okay, because truck drivers making $20 an hour with benefits feeds people better than one of those highly sough createive class office jobs topping out at $9 with no benefits.

    Now I know the democratic party of Portland is adverse to any infrastructure project that doesn’t also siphon off hundreds of millions in schools funding AND you hate programs that create jobs that can’t be directly attributed to a politician’s program BUUUT we dearly need the infrastructure.

    Even Gov. Gregoire of Washington has commented that additional freeway and bridge infrastructure is required in the Portland area as the freight congestion around Portland is causing a drag on Washington’s economy.

    Twenty years ago Portland’s port was a player and Portland was a major trucking and warehousing hub. No more, now the trucking companies have spent the last decade relocating in Washington and Idaho and route their operations around Portland.

    There has even been talks of moving containers off ships to huge sorting operation far outside of Portland just to avoid the lost hours of idling in Portland’s congested infrastructure. You see Portland has barred truck traffic off most of the bridges because the city would rather spend funds on the Eastbank Esplanade and Streetcar rather than living wage job creating transportation infrastructure. (But who needs a living wage job when you’ve got the creative class rolling around downtown in a Critical Mass?)

    Think about that Jerry. It cost so much to operate a business in Portland that it might be cheaper to ship by train (losing a week of shipping time) to rural Washington and then moving the freight around Mt. Hood to avoid Portland as a region.

    Wow, sure doesn’t look like additional roads do much of anything other than continually grow the entire US economy. But that brings me finally to your real issue. You hate our economy. Damn thing makes new-deal democrats obsolete.

    So do a quick google search and get back to me with your insta-facts and I’ll come back and shoot it down for you.


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