The new transit mall is in use and it is a beautiful stretch through the city. Now 3rd and 4th have been returned to their previous use as non-transit streets. The one major difference though is the quality of the street. It is now crap. There are dozens of ruts, ridges, pot holes, fills, cracked cement, black top, and other destroyed sections of the street that where in good shape 2 years ago. All of this damage is bus specific damage. My question is, what are the city’s plans to fix this? Is it budgeted? Have they even planned for it? Will it be TriMet’s burden? Is it ODOT’s burden? In the end, it will of course come out of the taxpayer’s pockets, but that is moot as an assumed point. I want to know when it will be fixed.
This is one of my ongoing comments about the approach to bus service (I know Erik Halstead has input on this in a number of ways) in the Portland area. TriMet needs to team with ODOT & the city to make it a HIGH PRIORITY to build primary arterials that buses travel on at a higher quality than mere black top as most of 3rd and 4th are. It doesn’t do anyone any good to have these streets whimsically destroyed like this because they’re just built crappy. Often politicians get road funding but then just make sure they get votes for the projects but don’t build the infrastructure for the long term. That type of nonsense has to stop.
It also brings up the thought, why not really build up the arterials (this is where the pro-bus and anti-rail people and I disagree) that have over 10k-12k riders. Routes like Powell, Belmont, and Hawthorne should have higher capacity rail options such as light rail or streets (multi-unit). Rail infrastructure obviously lasts longer than any type of utilized road infrastructure out there, yes at a higher cost, but the costs start to drop once you pay the capital and then inflation makes the price plummet. Rail that costs a few hundred grand in 1960 is still used today in some cities. Rail dropped in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s for half of what it would cost now is only at about 1/3 of its lifespan. Between our monetary inflation system and the lifespan of rail, it easily becomes the cheapest option for high throughput long term right of way. It needs viewed as such and utilized more.
So with this I mark the closure of the 3rd & 4th temporary bus mall in my own Transit Sleuth kind of way and await, impatiently, the future of transit in the Portland area. Cheers! (Click on any of the images for the full size (up to 10MP – fair use if you want to use any of them in other media/material – no need to even credit me for these – I just want the street fixed!)