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  #21  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2013, 3:48 AM
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That is a lot of money for a 3 mile subway line, I would rather see Portland build two new lines for $1.5 billion each, than to have a subway line through downtown. And of course the amount of streetcar lines $3 billion could buy would also be amazing.
Agreed. As much as I would love to see a subway through downtown, I think a Powell line at least to 205 (such as http://www.flickr.com/photos/101004589@N07/10177486876/) would dramatically change SE, i.e. access to 82, faster travel to Clackamas, time to E Portland, business investment etc.
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  #22  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2013, 4:01 AM
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I think the reason that TriMet and Metro haven't pushed for a Subway yet is they want to build out the network first, the SW Corridor being the last major line in the system (minus various extensions to Vancouver and OC, for example). Expect the Central Subway to be the next major infrastructure improvement/investment once the SW Corridor is complete.
I think we will see an expansion of the streetcar system long before we will see anything relating to a subway. I do see the city running more lines along 5th and 6th, as well as possibly reusing the old turnaround spot the Yellow line use to use by 10th Ave.

In all honesty, the light traffic to 5th and 6th with the dedicated lines makes it very easy for that to basically function as an above ground subway line for a fraction of the cost.

I wouldn't imagine seeing any new lines, including a subway line built through downtown until the ones we currently have are at max capacity. And I don't see that happening any time soon or within our lifetimes really.
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  #23  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2013, 5:37 AM
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Here's my best attempt, for the red/blue line section only. From Holladay/13th to Collins Circle, via a likely underground route, is ~3 miles.

University Link in Seattle is $1.9 billion for 3.15 miles, or $0.63 billion a mile.
Central Subway in San Francisco is $1.6 billion for 1.7 miles, or $1 billion a mile.
Second Avenue Subway in NYC is $17 billion for 8.5 miles, or $2 billion a mile.

I doubt a project in Portland would reach the costs of tunneling in Manhattan, but the number of stations required would make it more costly than University Link. So I'm going to guess $1 billion a mile, for $3 billion total.

Much as I'd love to see this done, I think it's obvious why it hasn't happened already.
Vancouver BC built 19km of grade-separated light metro for ~$2 billion, roughly $105 million/km. Which is cheaper than the Milwaukie MAX!

However, according to the wiki page, they were paying workers from Latin America $4/hour, so theres that.



Any capital spent on new transit lines really shouldn't be used to simply duplicate existing service, but should add new service. Obviously Metro and Trimet opted to fund a suburban-focused hybrid metro/streetcar-ish system, which is what we have now. But that doesn't mean that future lines need to follow the same formula - particularly once the downtown MAX lines reach capacity.
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  #24  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2013, 8:35 AM
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Right, but heading westward from 7th, you're already heading downhill - you'd have to go really steep to descend underground there. The only way I can see it working would be to turn N along Interstate west of RQ and descend there, where it's relatively flat (though still significantly higher than the river). Or by going underground at 13th and descending slowly through the Lloyd. But hey, pipe dreams, right?
Not at all. You could place the portal under I-5 and jog a little to the north between Holladay and Multnomah then be below grade at a station in front of the Rose Garden, uh, Moda whatever-it's-called-now. That way you don't interfere with the existing service on Holladay.

Which brings up an important logistical point.... you can't build a subway under Holladay without disrupting MAX for at least a couple of years. If you want to tunnel through the Lloyd District (which I'm actually in favor of), you'd need to do it under Multnomah. It would be very easy to descend diagonally on the superblock with the huge parking lot east of Holladay Park. That would also make a great staging area during construction (before it gets developed). Multnomah is also closer to the Mall and Broadway/Weidler, plus it's more central to the whole district.
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  #25  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2013, 9:22 AM
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I think we will see an expansion of the streetcar system long before we will see anything relating to a subway. I do see the city running more lines along 5th and 6th, as well as possibly reusing the old turnaround spot the Yellow line use to use by 10th Ave.

In all honesty, the light traffic to 5th and 6th with the dedicated lines makes it very easy for that to basically function as an above ground subway line for a fraction of the cost.

I wouldn't imagine seeing any new lines, including a subway line built through downtown until the ones we currently have are at max capacity. And I don't see that happening any time soon or within our lifetimes really.
I agree we'll see several new streetcar lines before the downtown subway gets built. Especially now that Hales is the mayor.

But the need for a subway has nothing to do with the "light" traffic on 5th and 6th. It's a combination of several factors that have already pushed rail capacity to its physical limits downtown. The severely constrained Steel Bridge bottleneck, the poorly timed traffic lights, the hundreds of train/auto/bus/bike/pedestrian conflicts, the closely spaced stations that prevent anything close to a steady flow of trains, the short 200' blocks that limit train length, the clusterf*** of twisting tracks between Union Station and the bridge.

These constraints aren't going to go away, and they're exactly the rationale that will be used when Metro starts building the case for the subway. No, of course it won't be built tomorrow. Like I said, they're concentrating on building the major spokes before they invest in the hub. Assuming the SW Corridor is close to 10 years away from completion, I'd expect the subway is at least 15, maybe 20 years away from opening.
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  #26  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2013, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by zilfondel View Post
Vancouver BC built 19km of grade-separated light metro for ~$2 billion, roughly $105 million/km. Which is cheaper than the Milwaukie MAX!

However, according to the wiki page, they were paying workers from Latin America $4/hour, so theres that.



Any capital spent on new transit lines really shouldn't be used to simply duplicate existing service, but should add new service. Obviously Metro and Trimet opted to fund a suburban-focused hybrid metro/streetcar-ish system, which is what we have now. But that doesn't mean that future lines need to follow the same formula - particularly once the downtown MAX lines reach capacity.
Can you expand on this statement? I am not sure I know what you mean by hybrid metro/streetcar-ish system.
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  #27  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 12:07 AM
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I agree we'll see several new streetcar lines before the downtown subway gets built. Especially now that Hales is the mayor.

But the need for a subway has nothing to do with the "light" traffic on 5th and 6th. It's a combination of several factors that have already pushed rail capacity to its physical limits downtown. The severely constrained Steel Bridge bottleneck, the poorly timed traffic lights, the hundreds of train/auto/bus/bike/pedestrian conflicts, the closely spaced stations that prevent anything close to a steady flow of trains, the short 200' blocks that limit train length, the clusterf*** of twisting tracks between Union Station and the bridge.

These constraints aren't going to go away, and they're exactly the rationale that will be used when Metro starts building the case for the subway. No, of course it won't be built tomorrow. Like I said, they're concentrating on building the major spokes before they invest in the hub. Assuming the SW Corridor is close to 10 years away from completion, I'd expect the subway is at least 15, maybe 20 years away from opening.
I pointed out the need for a solution for the Steel Bridge, but the other constraints are just that, but the way 5th and 6th functions, those streets run well with streetcar, lights are times in downtown and the trains flow with those lights, the 200' blocks is a constraint in the fact that there can only be two light rail trains at a time.

I seriously don't think we will see any form of subway for 50 years, if ever.
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  #28  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 1:10 AM
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I seriously don't think we will see any form of subway for 50 years, if ever.
This is exactly what I think.
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  #29  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 2:22 AM
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Originally Posted by urbanlife
I seriously don't think we will see any form of subway for 50 years, if ever.
This is exactly what I think.
It's not even a regional discussion at this point. We have a better chance of capping and tunneling the 405 and demolishing the Marquam Bridge, which I'd give an unscientific 0.09% chance of going forward in the next two decades.
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  #30  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 8:07 AM
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Wow!! Such pessimism from all y'all.

Before you write a post-mortem on MAX, keep this in mind. For 12 years ('86-'98), we had a grand total of one (1) MAX line, the "Banfield Light Rail". Then in the subsequent 15 years, we added 4 more lines, with a sixth line more than halfway completed. We've quadrupled the MAX system in less than 2 decades. Plus added two new streetcar lines with several more planned in the near future. Plus started planning for both a Vancouver extension and a new SW Corridor MAX line (segment numbers 7 and 8). And possibly even the glimmer of a 9th segment along Powell Blvd. Plus added WES commuter rail in Washington County (granted, not the best example of commuter rail, but at least a start to what could become an excellent MAX corridor in the near future).

That's just in the last 15 years!!!

Do you all honestly believe that Portland is going to just stop growing, and stop improving its rail system to handle that future growth? We've invested all this time and energy and $$$ into building a comprehensive rail network that reaches (or will reach) every part of the city. But then we're just going to ignore the shortcomings at the heart of the system once all the lines are built?

Sorry, but I have a little more faith in our city than to believe that everything will just grind to a halt once Milwaukie MAX opens. I expect within the next 10 years, we'll also see both SW MAX and Vancouver MAX opening, with a possible line along Powell, an Orange line extension to OC and a Red line extension along the WES alignment, all in the planning stages, or already under construction. Then in the following 10 years, a serious discussion, planning and construction of a central subway to tie all the lines together in the most efficient method possible while also maximizing capacity for the entire system.

And before somebody cries "it's too expensive, we'll never find the money to build this".... we've ALWAYS said the exact same thing before every rail line in the city was built. Except the first one, which was paid for with money from the Mt Hood Freeway project. The money is NEVER there until the planning starts and the local priorities shift.
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  #31  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 10:20 AM
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when the orange line is done the first line will be 30 years old and you would think it would keep looking more and more like a big citys light rail. portland will grow into a big city some day
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  #32  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 3:29 PM
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Originally Posted by 65MAX View Post
Wow!! Such pessimism from all y'all.

Before you write a post-mortem on MAX, keep this in mind. For 12 years ('86-'98), we had a grand total of one (1) MAX line, the "Banfield Light Rail". Then in the subsequent 15 years, we added 4 more lines, with a sixth line more than halfway completed. We've quadrupled the MAX system in less than 2 decades. Plus added two new streetcar lines with several more planned in the near future. Plus started planning for both a Vancouver extension and a new SW Corridor MAX line (segment numbers 7 and 8). And possibly even the glimmer of a 9th segment along Powell Blvd. Plus added WES commuter rail in Washington County (granted, not the best example of commuter rail, but at least a start to what could become an excellent MAX corridor in the near future).

That's just in the last 15 years!!!

Do you all honestly believe that Portland is going to just stop growing, and stop improving its rail system to handle that future growth? We've invested all this time and energy and $$$ into building a comprehensive rail network that reaches (or will reach) every part of the city. But then we're just going to ignore the shortcomings at the heart of the system once all the lines are built?

Sorry, but I have a little more faith in our city than to believe that everything will just grind to a halt once Milwaukie MAX opens. I expect within the next 10 years, we'll also see both SW MAX and Vancouver MAX opening, with a possible line along Powell, an Orange line extension to OC and a Red line extension along the WES alignment, all in the planning stages, or already under construction. Then in the following 10 years, a serious discussion, planning and construction of a central subway to tie all the lines together in the most efficient method possible while also maximizing capacity for the entire system.

And before somebody cries "it's too expensive, we'll never find the money to build this".... we've ALWAYS said the exact same thing before every rail line in the city was built. Except the first one, which was paid for with money from the Mt Hood Freeway project. The money is NEVER there until the planning starts and the local priorities shift.
I'm sure we'll get additional MAX lines in the future. I don't think we're getting a downtown subway.
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  #33  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 5:48 PM
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Wow!! Such pessimism from all y'all.

Before you write a post-mortem on MAX...
Uhm... what?! Who is writing a post-mortem on the MAX? We're saying Trimet isn't about to spend several BILLION dollars to bury it through downtown. The idea is downright silly, quite frankly. I mean, yeah, it's be cool and it'd speed the system up, but it's not going to happen. The idea doesn't even make sense when you consider the other projects Trimet could spend the money on, including expanding MAX and the streetcar.

I doubt we'll see MAX buried through downtown in my lifetime.
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  #34  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 5:50 PM
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I'm sure we'll get additional MAX lines in the future. I don't think we're getting a downtown subway.
Actually, we just got a new one directly across the street from the Central Library on SW 10th.
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  #35  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 7:06 PM
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  #36  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 10:40 PM
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Actually, we just got a new one directly across the street from the Central Library on SW 10th.
Haha, nice. I totally walked right into that one.

I am with everyone else, subways are cool but I would rather see the region spend that money expanding MAX and the streetcar systems as much as possible, as well as constructing another transit only bridge to alleviate the Steel Bridge issues.
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  #37  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2013, 12:10 AM
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Uhm... what?! Who is writing a post-mortem on the MAX? We're saying Trimet isn't about to spend several BILLION dollars to bury it through downtown. The idea is downright silly, quite frankly. I mean, yeah, it's be cool and it'd speed the system up, but it's not going to happen. The idea doesn't even make sense when you consider the other projects Trimet could spend the money on, including expanding MAX and the streetcar.

I doubt we'll see MAX buried through downtown in my lifetime.
Yes, I get that you doubt it. But we're already expanding the MAX system and adding streetcars. So what happens when we reach maximum capacity downtown with all these expansions? Nothing? We just give up on any additional MAX improvements?

You say it's "silly", but then why does ANY subway get built anywhere? Not because it's "cool" to have a subway (which we already have through the West Hills, BTW. So technically, we're already "cool"). It's just like you said, to increase speed, and also along with that, capacity and operational efficiencies. We're gonna need that extra capacity sooner than most people realize since we're already bumping up against that limit during rush hour now, as in today. Add Milwaukie (extended to OC), Vancouver, Tigard/Tualatin, Powell, a possible conversion of the WES corridor.... how are all of those new MAX trains, not to mention the additional trains that will be necessary on the lines we ALREADY have, going to thread their way through the constraints of the current downtown configuration? They can't. And the straw that will break the camel's back is going to be the Steel Bridge. That's what will force the issue more than all of the other logical reasons combined. Every single MAX train will need to go through the increasingly congested RQ and cross the Willamette there to get into downtown. And a new transit-only drawbridge isn't the solution there.

Look, nothing is preventing Metro and TriMet from expanding MAX and Streetcar service for the foreseeable future, but why does that make a subway less likely? If anything, it'll make a subway MORE likely the bigger the rail network becomes. Each additional line that gets built increases ridership exponentially because the system become more comprehensive and user-friendly. You can say it's too costly, or too pie-in-the-sky all you want, but it's really not. It's just one more infrastructure project in a long line of mega-infrastructure projects. So 20 years from now, I'll be here on SSP in 2033 telling you "I told you so".
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  #38  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2013, 12:27 AM
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I say it's silly because spending THREE BILLION DOLLARS today - or even in the next 20 years - would come at the expense of expanding the system, rather than serving as a catalyst to expand it.

I'm definitely in favor of the concept, and if a billionaire were to step forward to fund it, I'd be cheering... but then again, I'd also be thinking of how amazing it could have been if the money had been spent expanding MAX or the streetcar.

Really now, is there any discussion of this anywhere other than in this thread? Has anyone at Trimet proposed burying MAX downtown?

I don't see it happening in my lifetime. Portland has too many other mass transit priorities that would easily come ahead of creating a subway through downtown.
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  #39  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2013, 1:30 AM
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I think a subway downtown is a great idea. MAX service through downtown is too slow. If it simply zoomed through downtown with 3-4 stops at higher speeds I think it would increase ridership significantly.

I envision the tunnel beginning where the MAX currently leaves the I-84 alignment and goes up to NE Holladay St. with one station by Holladay Park. Another station at the Rose Garden / Convention center. The Yellow line would also join the tunnel here via interstate ave.

With longer trains you'd have longer stations which would allow station entrances and exits to serve multiple locations. The rest of the system would also need to have it's surface stations expanded to meet the length of the longer max trains but I think it would be great if TriMet could finally run 4 car trains.


Moving on... Another in the Pearl serving Union Station. I'd place the station somewhere near the Post Office site to incentivize the development of that land. The tunnel would then head south somewhat following the park blocks with a large station at SW Salmon & SW Park. With just two blocks from Pioneer square that's a very central location and it's also near a bunch of surface lots which would also have more pressure to develop with a new subway in the area. This is where I'd have the tunnel branch off with one spur to the Washington Tunnel with a station in goose hollow, and the other would continue south to PSU with one station serving the campus and then the tunnel would branch again one going to the surface at SW Lincoln to meet the new overpass for the line to Milwaukie and then other part would remain tunneled for the SW MAX line.

With all the trains in one tunnel the service would be really frequent. I think it's possible to put them all in the same tunnel because it would make transfers very easy and simplify the system. I'm currently living in London and take the Victoria line which runs 33 trains per hour so I think with the right signaling system in a brand new tunnel it would be possible to handle all of those trains at high frequencies. I'm not sure if it would even be an issue since most lines run every fifteen minutes. It would only be a concern during rush hour.

This would obviously cost billions but it would be worth it. No, it's not a new line, but the investment would greatly improve the entire system by making it so much more efficient. It takes about 9 minutes to go from the Zoo station to Sunset TC compared to nearly 25 minutes to go from Goose Hollow to Lloyd Center on the MAX. That would save every commuter so much time and attract more riders to the system.
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  #40  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2013, 4:18 AM
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65MAX and 2oh1 both have excellent points. Given the current organization of money, and priorities of our government and culture, a subway--transit in general for that matter--is not a priority. How best to make it a priority...

On the one hand, the MAX is a far more efficient and quick transportation mode (and attracts quite a lot more potential riders) than the bus. This is may be related to its ability to compete with the SOV in speed. With more options around the metro area to get some place other than via SOV, we all benefit. This means expanding the peripheral system should be a priority, and this will create more demand for expanding in the future.

On the other hand, limiting MAX travel downtown to an average of 6mph often (I must assume) dissuades potential riders from traveling through the CBD. I don't know the demand for this (and would love to know). This variable (and quite a few others) must be weighed in view of any future improvement of MAX connections downtown.
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