Monday, April 25, 2011

Portland to Lake Oswego

Like many North American cities, Portland had an extensive streetcar network until the 1950's when they tore up the tracks and literally burned the streetcars for scrap metal because the auto was the future. This was probably one of the biggest blunders in the modern history of transportation. 25 years later, in 1986, they started construction of the MAX light rail system and in 2001 rebuilt a downtown streetcar.

Current and future rail transit in Portland region. Click image to enlarge.
Portland Streetcar Loop. Extension under construction in Blue. Click image to enlarge.
Both systems are currently being expanded with a new recommendation to build a streetcar between Downtown Portland and Lake Oswego.

In 1988 local government purchased the right-of-way from then Southern Pacific of the Willamette Shore Trolley and in 1990 started a tourist tram. In 2005, Metro (Portland's elected regional government) started studying options for improving transit and trail corridors between Portland and Lake Oswego. Bus Rapid Transit or a streetcar was considered as potential transit options in 2007 and in 2009 both options we studied. In 2010, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement was complete and went out for public comment. On February 28, 2011, a streetcar system was recommended as the way forward. If all goes according to plan, by 2015 construction could begin with streetcar service starting in 2017. The Lake Oswego streetcar would be an extension to the existing Portland Streetcar.

Lake Oswego to Portland Transit Project Steering Committee's preferred alternative. Click image to enlarge.
At the rate Portland is going by 2058 they may have rebuilt their streetcar network back to pre-1950's levels which would certainly be the irony of the century!

No comments: