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Old Posted Jul 21, 2005, 6:14 PM
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Portland Aerial Tram | Complete

It makes me a little nervous that a project manager would sound so negative about such a public project. But it's nice to see that construction will finally get started.

Does anyone know specifics about the construction timeline? Will they start at one end or get going on the top and bottom at the same time? I can't wait to see it go up.


Tram plan is juggling act, not a slam dunk
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Fred Leeson
The Oregonian

Being a sports fan, Don Irwin pictures himself down 15 points halfway through the fourth quarter of a Blazer game.

Can he still win?

"We'll need some luck along the way, and we'll need to make some of our own luck," he says. The buzzer sounds Sept. 30, 2006.

Irwin is construction supervisor for the Portland Aerial Tram. By his estimate, it's a 16- to 18-month project that needs to be finished in 14, starting next month.

And the $40 million budget? It may or may not be enough, depending on international steel and cement markets.

Irwin knows construction. He supervised U.S. Veterans Administration medical construction and remodeling projects in five cities from 1972 to 1991, ending in Portland and Vancouver. Then he helped TriMet build the westside and Interstate MAX projects. He is on loan to the city of Portland for the tram project.

Irwin brought Interstate MAX home several months early and $25 million under budget. TriMet used the extra money to buy seven extra rail cars.

Better yet, Irwin, who's also a lawyer, finished the Interstate project with no squabbles with the contractors. Unlike some earlier projects, TriMet spent zero on lawyers and litigation.

The cost-cutting challenge looks tougher on the tram, which will travel 3,450 feet between the Oregon Health & Science University and the South Waterfront urban renewal district.

There are only three structures -- two landing stations and an intermediate tower. "It's all necessary and also complex," Irwin says. About 70 percent of the budget will be concrete and steel, yet another reason why scrimping is difficult.

The most difficult piece is the upper station, connecting to the ninth floor of a new medical building. "The footprint is a postage stamp," Irwin says. "The structural solution is unique and very complex."

Project leaders have met with residents under the tram and will meet with them more as the project moves ahead. "We will tell them how it is to be built and when their front yards will be disrupted," Irwin says. "We'll try our best to minimize the pain that comes with any construction project."

Tram cars will float approximately 70 feet above the ground. A one-way trip will take about 21/2 minutes. Tram cars were designed to be "bubbles in the sky," Irwin says, to make them unobtrusive as possible.

But, he adds, each tram car will be about half the size of a TriMet bus. "It will be noticeable," he says. "But I'm hopeful it won't be negatively noticeable."

The university is banking on the South Waterfront as a new area for expansion, with the tram as the people-connecting link. Irwin's opinion of the tram: "Short of a tunnel and an elevator -- which would be tremendously expensive -- it's a great solution."

Fred Leeson: 503-294-5946; fredleeson@news.oregonian.com
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2005, 6:20 PM
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He is just setting himself up for the hero roll. Its in his best interests to make the job seem really really hard so when he does get it done on time he comes our rosy for his next job opportunity.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2005, 6:45 PM
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it still doesn't give us a construction start date...
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2005, 6:50 PM
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whats the hold up? It was supposed to start construction in february or march 2005 then it was june.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2005, 8:03 PM
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The project just went out to bid. An ad is in the DJC.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2005, 8:03 PM
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Where's the announcement of the restaurant/viewing platform or other public space up at the top?

I'll be extremely disappointed if this tram ends up being nothing more than a medical taxi for OHSU.


P.S.: LOL @ cab's comments. So true!
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  #7  
Old Posted Aug 12, 2005, 5:49 PM
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Crews ready sites for tram
Friday, August 12, 2005

Workers will begin relocating a sprinkler system at Oregon Health & Science University on Monday in preparation for construction of the aerial tram's upper station.

The following week, workers will cut down trees, flatten the land and begin work on a gravel construction road to the site of the upper station.

Workers also will insert 6-inch pilings 50 feet into the ground at the lower station in the South Waterfront district.

The 3,300-foot tram will connect OHSU's Marquam Hill campus to the fast-developing South Waterfront district, where the medical school is building laboratories, treatment facilities and offices.

Kiewit Pacific Co. is the main contractor for the project. Doppelmayr CTEC will install the jellybean-shaped tram cars.

City transportation officials expect the $40 million project to be finished by Sept. 30, 2006.

-- Yuxing Zheng

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/orego...800.xml&coll=7
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  #8  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2005, 10:44 PM
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Perhaps the tram route has an ancient curse
Eerie precendent: As construction begins on the aerial tram, Anton Vetterlein of the Homestead neighborhood notes an earlier transportation venture on the identical route.

In 1889, one Frank Prantl tried to build a cable railroad between Marquam Hill and Southwest Second Avenue along Southwest Gibbs Street. At a half-mile long, Prantl's Portland City Homestead Railway was only a few hundred feet shorter than the tram route. Alas, Prantl couldn't make the steam-powered car negotiate its way along a cable anchored between the tracks. It never went into service. "The failure caused the promoter to go insane," wrote John T Labbe, in "Fares, Please," a history of Portland's street railways published in 1980.

-Fred Leeson
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Old Posted Sep 15, 2005, 11:02 PM
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At Gibbs & Moody excavation is well under way. Gibbs in the SoWa is closed off and has been ripped up.
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  #10  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2005, 5:13 PM
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Cost of steel lifts tram's price tag
South Waterfront The aerial tram might now cost Portland $45 million, nearly triple the estimate from 2003

Saturday, October 22, 2005
FRED LEESON

Unexpected high bids for steel have raised the price tag of Portland's aerial tram by $5 million and launched another City Hall scramble to find extra money.

The steel bids, which came in at almost twice the estimates, could push the total cost to $45 million, or close to triple the estimated price from three years ago.

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, who manages city transportation matters, said project officials are trying to cut costs while preserving tram safety and the original design "within reason."

World demand for steel, driven in large part by fast growth in China, has pushed prices well above general inflation, said Vic Rhodes, project manager for Portland Aerial Tram Inc., a nonprofit company created by city government to build the tram.

Adams said he is talking with property owners, Oregon Health & Science University, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Portland Development Commission about additional construction dollars. He said he would not seek more money from property owners in local improvement districts at both ends of the tram.

The 3,250-foot tram system would ferry passengers between the South Waterfront district and the Marquam Hill campus of Oregon Health & Science University.

Adams said he hopes to have a revised funding formula in place by Nov. 7. Time is urgent because 80 percent of the tram materials and labor have been committed, and construction is under way at all three tram locations -- two terminals and an intermediate tower.

The project completion date remains Sept. 30, 2006, but Rhodes said that is "an extremely tight schedule." He said a November opening might be more likely.

A $45 million budget would leave a contingency fund of approximately $3.7 million. Adams said the contingency is essential because the project is technically complex and more surprises could occur as work progresses.

Tram estimates started at $15.5 million during a design competition in 2003, then rose to $24 million, $28.5 million and $36.38 million. The last figure was part of a $40 million package approved by the City Council in April with a contingency fund.
Tied to OHSU plan

OHSU is constructing a 16-story building that will house medical offices, research facilities and a wellness center adjacent to the tram's eastern terminal in the South Waterfront district. It is on schedule to open next September.

The tram is a key element in OHSU's operations at the new building. "We are very concerned about getting both projects in on time," said Steve Stadum, OHSU's chief administrative officer. "But we realize there are always going to be scheduling issues."

The OHSU project is expected to be the first of several possible OHSU buildings on the Willamette riverfront. In addition, several high-rise condominium projects are under construction or in the planning stages in the South Waterfront urban renewal district near the tram's eastern terminal.

A funding formula approved by the City Council in April relied on property assessments on land at both ends of the project, tax increment urban renewal money from the South Waterfront, energy tax credits and a $4 million contribution from OHSU. The formula did not include any city general fund money.

Stadum said he doesn't expect the university to offer more than the $28.7 million it already has committed through property assessments and the cash donation. "I think they are satisfied with our contribution to date," he said of the city.

A new plan is likely to rely more heavily on urban renewal revenue from rising property taxes in the South Waterfront area. Urban renewal contributions amount to $3.5 million so far.

However, a larger contribution would mean less money available for streets, parks and other capital improvements normally funded by tax increment money in renewal districts.

Commitment to design

Rhodes said directors of the nonprofit tram company considered changing the design of the 185-foot intermediate tower that will lift tram cars over Southwest Macadam Avenue and Interstate 5. A lattice tower, looking like those that carry electric lines, was a cheaper alternative.

But Rhodes said the board wanted to keep its commitment to follow the design by Sarah Graham, a Los Angeles architect who won a design competition on the tram project in 2003.
Adams agreed with keeping the more expensive design.

Otherwise, "what you would be left with would be something that looked like a cheap ski lift at a bad ski resort," he said. Adams added that he didn't want to leave the city with an "ugly postcard" that could last 100 years.

Adams said the city also could face legal problems from property owners paying tax assessments for the tram if the project doesn't substantially comply with the plan adopted by the City Council.

However, Rhodes said engineers have found ways to achieve some savings on the intermediate tower by bolting instead of welding some steel plates, and by using different paint. Erection of the tower poses difficulties because of its unusual shape and angles. "There isn't a right angle in it," Rhodes said.

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/orego...400.xml&coll=7
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  #11  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2005, 3:08 AM
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Ouch. I'm very much in favor of the tram, but the costs involved have become staggering.

I agree with Adams that it would be a tragic mistake to comprimise the design of the center tower to save some money. The tram is about long-term investment, and to bastardize the design would leave Portlanders paying the price (aesthetically) for a long time.
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  #12  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2005, 4:11 AM
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we should be proud to have the tram

there is plenty of NEGATIVE comments about the tram, but when it is up and running it will be an amazing sight. it will be on postcards and tourists will ride up and down the hill just for the experience and to see the city. property values will go up, and the city will expand! i often think of the aerial tram from mont Juic to the sea in barcelona, and how exciting of a ride it is. those cars in BCN are antiquated, where these tram cars will be glass with blue underbellies with a very thoughtful shape. the lower portion of the glass in the car will have horizontal striations that creates privacy in and out of the car. next time you drive down to SoWa, or down I-5 imagine the tram car going from OHSU (patient care facility -9) to the east side of I-5 unsupported. that is a huge span. The one and only guide pole is on the east side of I-5. In of itself that is an amazing feat! Aside from the escalation in construction costs, seen in projects across the board, this project will be an exciting and very progressive mode of transportation - very EXCITING for portland!!!
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  #13  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2005, 5:05 AM
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I so excited about it and I cant believe its supposed to open in less than a year.

You should see all the crap written about the tram on that Jack Bog 'I hate Portland and all its residents with a passion' Blog.
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Old Posted Oct 24, 2005, 12:33 AM
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Does anyone know what the construction on Gibbs and Corbett is for? I thought it might have something to do with the Tram because it is right below it.
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Old Posted Oct 24, 2005, 3:55 PM
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welcome to the NW forum dkealoha!!!

Not sure about your question though...

$45 million in my eyes is still a steal. Imagine the cost of any other form of transportation from the top of that "hill" to the district below. Tunneling would cost more than a hundred million. A streetcar wouldn't work going up the hill. Rapid transit buses would require new roads to make a more direct line to the area and possibly a new bridge over the 5, which everyone knows would cost more than $45 million in itself. The tram also floats above traffic and because there are no external factors affecting the run, it will be the most reliable form of transit Portland has ever seen. If this tram can be successfully built I'd like to see more lines connecting downtown to SoWa to the Pearl to Lloyd (although not necessarily in that order).

As for Jack Bog's Blog, he can suck my whatever...he fetches all day long about the tram, and pretty much anything else about Portland he doesn't like. Rather than have OHSU (Portland's largest employeer) continue its expansion on fields in Hillsboro, how would he have connected the districts to OHSU's satisfaction, or would he just have let them walk, and than bitched that the city didn't spend a measly $45 million (the city is actually paying less than half) to accomidate its largest employeer.
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Old Posted Oct 24, 2005, 6:23 PM
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It is no easy task getting up to OHSU. Its not like theres a direct boulevard between SoWa and OHSU, its all windy congested roads, only 2 main ways into the campus and once you get down from the hill you have to go into downtown first before you can get to SoWa since I-5, Barbur, Naito Parkway and the Ross Island bridge ramps are in the way. Plus its quite simple, OHSU would not have invested in the South Waterfront without a quality, fast, convient permanent link between the two campuses.
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  #17  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2005, 8:34 PM
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it will take less time to take the tram car down the hill, or up to the hill for that matter, then it will take to walk from your car to your doctor's office AFTER you have found a place to park - which GOOD LUCK..! OHSU should have a bigger presence and better connectivity - those that complain probably just have a fetish to bitch, and cannot put together abstract concepts.
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Old Posted Oct 25, 2005, 12:56 AM
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Thanks MarkDaMan!

I actually answered my own question from before. It looks like they're starting on the street improvements in the Lair Hill neighborhood. They're moving all of the utilities underground and installing ornamental street lamps to make the neighborhood happy since they'll have this tram going over their houses.
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  #19  
Old Posted Oct 25, 2005, 3:30 PM
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what I wouldn't give to have "bubbles" filled with people flying over my house, and to get utility relocation, streetlamps, a new downtown view, and a ped bridge out of it all...I still have yet to figure out what they are whinning about!
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2005, 6:54 PM
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sorry NIMBYs you lose!

Court of appeals upholds dismissal of Portland landowners' tram lawsuit

Salem - The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Southwest Portland landowners opposed to an aerial tram.

The court said the 2002 suit was prematurely filed because, at the time, the city had not selected a route for the tram, which will connect the South Waterfront district and the Marquam Hill campus of Oregon Health & Science University.

The city has since chosen a route and started construction.

Previously, a Multnomah County Circuit judge had dismissed the suit, which sought declarations that the plaintiffs owned the airspace over Southwest Gibbs Street and that they would be due compensation for any lost property value because of the construction of the tram.

The 3,250-foot tram system has sparked controversy from the outset, largely because of opposition by some Lair Hill residents below.

The rising cost of steel recently raised the price tag to as much and $45 million, close to triple the estimated price from three years ago.
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