5 Reasons the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Project already Rocks!

Crossing the Hawthorne on the #4 looking south toward the Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges.

Crossing the Hawthorne on the #4 looking south toward the Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges. (click the image for full size image, or the respective bridge names for their Wikipedia entry)

I left about 11:30am today to get some lunch and take care of some coding, video taking, and some exploration. I’d been meaning to get into Milwaukie to check out how the work has been going on the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) line. I also wanted to snap some photos and video of the area. It turned out, I was in luck. I was able to get a lot of this done along with getting a few shots and commentary put together for numerous different parts of the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail line.

So here are a few of my discoveries…

#1 Pine State Biscuits Makes the Best Biscuits in Portland

Pine State Biscuits is packed and has a long line for Saturday...

Pine State Biscuits is packed and has a long line for Saturday…

To no Portlander’s surprise, Pine State Biscuits located at 1100 SE Division St was packed and had a line for breakfast (at almost noon) to the end of the block. But you say, that’s irrelevant to transit, come on with it. You’re right, so here we go…


#2 The PMLR & Union Pacific parallel Bikeway!

Note the two pink lines, this is where the bike-way/cycle-track/bike highway are now open finally! (click for full size image)

Note the two pink lines, this is where the bike-way/cycle-track/bike highway are now open finally! (click for full size image)

The new cycle track is open between Division Pl (the western end of what used to be the continuation of Division St before the crossing was removed) and Clinton Street (the part that doesn’t seem like Clinton St, see above full size map). The bikeway then connects into a low traffic Gideon Street for about two blocks between 12th and going toward Powell in a southeasterly direction. Just before actually getting to Powell though the path cuts back onto a cycle track and onto the overpass over Powell and back down onto 17th Street. At 17th Street it continues as a buffered bike lane toward Holgate, then past that all the way to McLoughlin and then just turns into regular neighborhood greenways and roads.

Here’s a shot looking northwest from Clinton Street toward Division Place. The following shot after that is looking southeast toward Gideon. The last shot of these three is looking parallel down Gideon and the new sidewalk toward the Powell Street overpass. (cont below)

Looking northwest from Clinton Street toward Division. (Click for full size image)

Looking northwest from Clinton Street toward Division. (Click for full size image)

Looking south from beside Clinton St toward Gideon. (Click for full size image)

Looking south from beside Clinton St toward Gideon. (Click for full size image)

Looking southeast toward Powell and the bike highway overpass. (Click for full size image)

Looking southeast toward Powell and the bike highway overpass. (Click for full size image)

Note that the yellow horizontal line in the image is the beginning of the bikeway (shared pedestrian & bicycle that goes across Powell and connects to 17th buffered bike lanes on the other side) I’ll write more in the future about what this route connects to and different trips that it now makes possible. But for now, on to the next discovery.


#3 Downtown Milwaukie = Super Kid Friendly!

Wunderland Games in Milwaukie (click for full size image)

Wunderland Games in Milwaukie (click for full size image)

First off there is a nickel arcade, Wunderland Games. This place is awesome, it’s also not just nickel arcades, there are also movies, beer for the adults and more. While I was there a number of children came barreling down the street toward the arcade. Parents were in tow just a few dozen feet behind them. The other great little thing about this location being in downtown Milwaukie with the low auto traffic yields is that the kids aren’t in much danger when they bolt for the entrance of the arcade!

The second place in downtown Milwaukie that screams kids is the comic book and toy store called Things From Another World (map). This place has all sorts of cool super hero models, to comic books and even some games and other assorted things. Albeit, this is definitely one of those places where the adults get to be kids too. Great shop, one should check it out if you’re even remotely into comic books or anything super hero.

Playgrounds and parks everywhere! (click for full size map)

Playgrounds and parks everywhere! (click for full size map)

The third thing, if you decide to be a little risky, is a number of parks around Milwaukie. My favorite of them is the waterfront park. (watch the next Transit Sleuth TV episode for more on the waterfront park) Which is unfortunately a bit sketchy because highway 99 is directly in between downtown Milwaukie and the waterfront park. However if you’ve got a firm leash on your children, it’s safe enough to get there by crossing at one of the sparsely available crosswalks.

#4 Downtown Milwaukie to Downtown Portland

Even right now getting from Milwaukie to downtown Portland is extremely easy on transit. Just boarding the #33 bus in downtown Milwaukie or along it’s route will get you downtown in pretty short order. However in the future if one locates in Milwaukie they’ll have an easy and uninterrupted MAX ride from just south of downtown Milwaukie all the way into downtown Portland. I believe now, with traffic during the day one can expect at 25-40 minute bus ride. With the MAX Orange Line opening next year, it’ll turn into a dramatically more reliable trip.

#5 PMLR Pricing & Roadway Mitigation

Again, I see why these types of projects continue to skyrocket in price. The PMLR isn’t just merely some light rail mileage out to some distant suburb or town center away from the downtown core. It is vastly more than that, and a significant part of the cost is in mitigating any type of interuption to motorists during construction and in the future. Let’s just read that again,

“A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE COST IS IN MITIGATING ANY TYPE OF INTERUPTION TO MOTORISTS DURING CONSTRUCTED AND IN THE FUTURE!”

Let’s talk about this some more. First off, there are numerous massive overpasses. We’re talking as big almost as the Tilikum Bridge itself! If you aren’t aware, that’s the bridge that is actually being built over the Willamette River. These overpasses, which go over various roads and are there to prevent a number of issues. One of the important reasons is to prevent incidents like that which occur on the west side going to Hillsboro, Beaverton and to the east going to Gresham. Another major reason is to prevent at grade crossings where some motorist tends to get themselves hit every few weeks or months and delays the entire system.

Incidents in the past in regard to motorists are one of the major causes of any delays within the Trimet System. Recently a motorist, lost control of their vehicle through negligence and slammed into the electrical system (the pole and catenary were damaged as I understand it) which caused dozens of hours of delays for that part of town. Will that cost ever be recouped from that negligent person? Doubtfully. Hopefully these types of incidences can be reduced or eliminated by having the right of way (ROW) be completely seperated from the MAX route itself.

In turn however, this had made the line extremely expensive, as even a throughway for cars or even a BRT of this quality would have been astronomically expensive.

The other concern, was to remove any delay form existing roadways and expressways. Highway 99 lies parallel and has multipel crossover and merge points along the line. With over passes keeping the light rail ROW away from the automobile roadway this will prevent any at grade crossing delays. This is something that the west, east and north side MAX lines all have to contend with today.

Again, this is a huge part of the reason that this line and any future line of this quality is so expensive.

Summary

The PMLR is going to be a great amenity to almost everybody along the inner south east, Sellwood & Milwaukie residents. Trips times will become more consistent and we’ll gain the ability to dramatically increase the number of commuters coming into Portland from the south. I’ll have more about the PMLR in the future, but for now, hope you found my 4 discoveries useful (or at least interesting).

Transit Sleuth out, cheers.

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2 Comments

  1. Hahahaaa, yeah. It doesn’t take too long, but when I write blog entries in about 15 minutes because it’s all the time I have it’s a bit tough.

    I’ll take a stab at a little cleanup on the article. Thanks for the edit. btw – got a rate you charge for editing? 😉

    Reply

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