Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Barbur Transit Center - The Good, Bad, the Ugly, and the Really Ugly and how it doesn't fit into the urban form

In my first entry on how transit centers fit into the urban form and how they can they can fit better into a strong vibrant urban form I showed a worse case example with the freeway based Parkrose-Sumner Transit Center near the Portland International Airport on the MAX Red Line. 

Today's entry is an even worse example and that is the Barbur Transit Center which is stuck between Interstate 5 and its predecessor Barbur Blvd which was once US Highway 99W. The Barbur Transit Center is currently the oldest transit center in the Trimet system having opened in 1977 and as you will see it is showing its age. The transit center is actually nothing but a glorified Park N' Ride lot as the area around the transit center is very auto oriented and hostile to pedestrians and is not designed to blend into the community or the community to blend into the transit center.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Trimet Parkrose/Sumner Transit Station - The good, bad and ugly

During my recent trip to the Portland International Airport for a trip to Los Angles, I took pictures of the three Red Line stations that only serve the Red Line to the airport. Unfortunately I was using a borrowed point and shoot which did not have the quality of my DSLR but the pictures will have to do. For these stations along with many others I plan to photograph soon, I will document what the existing conditions are, what the zoning is, what the plus and minuses of the station are, and what can be done from an urban design standpoint to make the station a better place now and in the future.

First up is the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center which is the perfect example of why freeway based rail transit stations just don't work especially when all the conditions this one faces. That is not to say it is not a popular transit hub as it does serve several important bus lines but because of the freeway location will never be all it could be.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

3 Day Transit Only Trip to Los Angeles

A job interview in Los Angeles on December 20th meant I had to travel down there and get around the city. My choice was to use transit and avoid the use of a car for the entire trip. I could have taken Amtrak from Portland and it would have been about $50 cheaper than flying if I had to pay but I cashed in my frequent flyer miles and got a free round trip ticket to Los Angeles which included a free upgrade to first class on the trip back – bonus! My first preference would have been to fly into Burbank which is more convenient and has better transit access but it would have been 15,000 more miles for the ticket which is beyond what I had or wanted to spend so LAX would be the spot I flew into.

Red Line Train Arriving At Pioneer Courthouse Square with Siemens S70 cars

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How well does your trail work?

I am a walker, I love to do a lot of walking. While it may not show right now with the pounds I need to do I have walked more than 15 miles in a single day.

When I visited Portland before moving up here in 2010 and early 2011, and after moving here I would do walks suggested by Laura Foster in her books "Portland City Walks" and "Portland Hill Walks" which are two books I would highly recommend if you want to do sightseeing in Portland on foot.

However there is also times I like to walk off road trails because they tend to be quieter and I can do some hard thinking along the way. When I lived in Salt Lake City I would walk the Jordan River Trail that travels the center of the Salt Lake Valley and when I lived in Spokane, WA I would often walk the Centennial trail that traveled from Spokane to Couer D' Alene ,Idaho.

Here in Portland I live realtively close to the Fanno Creek Trail which travels from Tualatin to Portland along several different rights of way and sometimes in streets. I have walked part of the trail that is along an old rail line but have not attempted to walk the who trail until last week.

One of the problems with attempting to walk the entire Fanno Creek trail is the lack of a map that is easy to access. In fact I have not been able to find any map that shows the entire trail from beginning to end that is current. I had to piece together all the information in order to find my way.

Compare that to the Jordan River Parkway which has easy to access maps:
Jordan River Parkway

Or the Centennial Trail in the Spokane area:
Centennial Trail Map

Which is part of Google Maps

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking for a position...

Portland State University College of Urban & P...
Portland State University College of Urban & Public Affairs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to apologize for not posting more frequently lately but I have been very busy between school and raising a family. I just graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Community Development from the Urban Planning and Public Affairs Department. In that time I took exciting classes such as Legal Aspects of Planning, Transportation Problems and Solutions, Urban Housing, Community Economic Development, Geology, Urban Economics, Real Estate Development, and many others.

I also had the opportunity to work on a variety projects including:
-Designed a Power Point Presentation to be used to demonstrate what to do in a natural disaster or other event that causes the area to loss its water supply.
-Created a Buy Local Campaign for the city of St. Helens, Oregon
-Wrote a history of Spokane, WA downtown revitalization attempts and recommendations for the future of the area.
-Wrote an evaluation of the Division Street corridor in Portland with recommendations for the future
-Did an evaluation of the Gray's Landing Low Income Housing project here in Portland.

Now I need to find a position where I can put my schooling and my extensive research experience to work. Looking for some type of Urban or Transportation planning position. Hopefully one of the my faithful readers will have an opportunity.

You can contact me at jdornoff (at) earthlink (dot) net.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Now there is two...

LACMTA Metro Local #8407
LACMTA Metro Local #8407 (Photo credit: L.A. Urban Soul)

Today it was announced that North American Bus Industries better known as NABI has been purchased by New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg Canada for a grand total of $80 million dollars. Although the NABI factor in Alabama will continue to produce buses at this time (currently has 1500 buses on order), it bascially leaves to companies (New Flyer and Gillig) as the major suppliers of transit buses in the United States (plus a few niche players whose orders don't amount to much).

The biggest existing customer for NABI is currently the Los Angeles METRO who purchases most of their buses from the company, having had conflicts with several manufactures in the past although most of those such as Neoplan have already stopped producing buses or the US market.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Observations from a Chicago Trip

In April, I had the opportunity to attend the American Planning Association conference which was being held in Chicago which also meant that I would have the opportunity to explore its transit system for the first time.

For those that love exploring transit systems, Chicago is a great place to go. Not only does it have its famous "L" system which is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), but also CTA buses, METRA Commuter trains which included diesel trains out of 3 stations in the Chicago Loop area, electric line that runs south from a fourth station, the last true interurban line the South Shore, PACE bus service and loads of private bus operations.

METRA Electric train at South Chicago (93rd Street terminus).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Time to worry about important things?

Study of Peak Oil and Gas
Study of Peak Oil and Gas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Las Vegas Strip
English: Las Vegas Strip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK, the worry about the Mayan calender is over, we have survived our trip to the fiscal cliff, and while it is tragic that 1000 people were injured in Russia from the falling asteroid, it did not bring an end to the world as we know it. Of course neither did Y2K, and all the other supposed end of the world events that seem to waste people's attentions. Sometimes you just have to wonder if these things are designed to distract us from the series problems we do face.

One of the major problems that could be looming on the horizon is our oil supply. There is many that say we have nothing to fear but when it comes down to it, people have to start realizing that the supply of oil is not infinite. Of course some say that we have already have hit peak oil and production is only going down from here, there is talk that by 2030 Saudi Arabia may have to import oil to supply their needs. What we do know is that the demand from countries such as China and India are fulling demand and China is using its economic might to control as many resources as possible and the question is, how long will the United States have the economic might to keep up.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"I Know Engineers...They Love to Change Things"

English: A diagram of a diverging diamond inte...
English: A diagram of a diverging diamond interchange, showing how the traffic flows. Apparently, the Dept. of Transportation in the state of Missouri had too much money this year and hired some kids to do the drawings. If people would simply pay attention to their driving, instead of treating their vehicle like a phone booth/restaurant, ridiculous designs like this wouldn't be part of today's roads Svenska: En bild på en divergernade diamantkorsning som visar hur tafiken rör sig. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those too young to remember the quote from the title of this entry, it is from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and from Dr. McCoy and I thought it was perfect for this entry.

I came across the video below on the Portland Transport site and thought it was something that had to be shared. The Utah Department of Transportation installed one of these intersections at 2100 South Expressway and Bangerter Highway in West Valley.

The diagram on the right gives you the basics of what these types of intersections are supposed to do. I have to say the first time I approached the one on Bangerter Highway it was really confusing especially since it was dark and snowing at the time.

There was also several drivers almost taken out at the intersection by a semi that seemed to be even more confused that the average driver over how to drive this thing.

While the one in the video has "token" pedestrian and cycling access the Utah one does not but then again Bangerter and the 2100 South Expressway is not designed for pedestrians.

Besides this diverging diamond intersection, UDOT has also been busy turning traffic lanes on 5400 South into reversible lanes. In addition they also did a continuous flow intersection treatment at Redwood and 5400 South that I will discuss in the future.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are State Governments Out of Date?

San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a...
San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a map of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at almost any state in the nation, and you will find something interesting. Except for the original states that were created from the colonies, often times our states were created long before they had major population centers. This means that the population of the state and its regional ties may not necessarily conform to state borders.

Previously I talked about the important of a regional agency that should oversee transit service to insure that separate agencies are working together to ensure connectivity between transit systems so that riders have an easier time traveling across the region. One of the major problems of creating a regional board is that they stop at state lines and even though the place across the border may have economic ties to the other, they often have a hard time working together.

To start off lets take a look at California. I grew up there and always listened to the debates about north vs. south and how one was better than the other or more important than the other. In a way you could say there is actually multiple California's. Looking at regional needs you could say that Southern California is one region, The San Francisco Bay Area from Monterey to Sacramento is another region, and the San Joaquin Valley is a third.

An even better case is in the Northwest. While many residents of Vancouver, WA would not want to admit this, they have more in common with Portland, Oregon than they do with Seattle or Spokane economically. Politically Vancouver is more aligned with Spokane, economically they are part of a region that extends from Eugene to Longview.

Politically and economically Spokane and the surrounding area are independent and have little in common especially politically with the Puget Sound region. The Puget Sound area is its own region that you could arguably say stretches from Olympia to actually Vancouver BC but with Vancouver you don't have just another state but a another country which makes matters even worse.

More examples would be Pittsburgh that has more in common with neighboring cities in Ohio than it does with Philadelphia; does Kansas City, Kansas have more in common and belong in a region with Kansas City, Missouri more than say Wichita?; St. Louis and its 'suburbs' to the east in Illinois, the Cincinnati Region and so on.

Lets not fool ourselves, our States and their political existence is a bedrock in our nation and we will likely not see any changes in the future. However, while it may not happen on a national basis, there is still great benefits to regions working together to design and build a interconnected future. Maybe someday Cascadia will represent an economic and planning region in the northwest that will boost the region and not just a time bomb waiting to severly damage the area.
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