While glancing through the Metro section of this morning's Oregonian, I happened to notice one page in particular, page C3, and how out of eight combined features and shorter blurbs, seven related to transit.
The biggest feature, by David Anderson and Marjon Rostami, reported that Washington County is pondering "an urban renewal district to pay for infrastructure." What's next, a bake sale? It's just plain sad how unwilling and/or unable Oregon is when it comes to investing in its infrastructure. This should be a no-brainer to me. If you're on the left, focus on the mass transit and high-density, green developments tied to it. If you're on the right, think of how highways, rail and the rest of the total picture comprise the bloodlines of a thriving economy.
This was especially on my mind after a short trip last weekend to Newport on our usual route by way of Highway 99 to McMinnville (aka McHometown), Highway 18 to Lincoln City and then Highway 101 south to Newport. I have always loved the coast, and we've always gone out of our way to visit the Nye Beach area of Newport, at least until the demise and perhaps ill-fated renovation of our beloved Nye Beach Hotel. But driving to and from Newport this time, I really asked myself if it was worth it after the headaches of ceaselessly heavy traffic. Oh what I'd give to get on a train from Portland to Newport by way of McMinnville, Grande Ronde, and Lincoln City, to get my car off the road and de-stress. Plenty of others would gladly do the same. Why is this so impossible. Even a bypass of the traffic-freezing eyesores Newberg and Dundee seems impossible without some ridiculous toll. Are we the cheapest society on the planet or what?
Below the Washington County transit story is Dennis McCarthy's piece on how Milwaukie's future light rail stop is now assured of not running downtown, after a committee studying options nixed that one with help from an interested DarkHorse figure (indeed). A light rail stop going down main street sounds pretty cool to me, but the only really important thing is that it stops near downtown and serves what is hopefully an increasingly high density cluster.
Next up is Dana Tims' piece on how Tigard businesses "fear rail project poses obstacle", as the conjunction-free headline goes. "Owners say a proposed median would hut access to their establishments." That's a fair criticism. Is there not a good design solution to this? I mean...
Over in the small brief blurbs, we have news of selection being put off for selection of a developer for the Westgate Theater space. I have a soft spot for the Westgate because I saw many of the great late-70s, early-80s popcorn movie classics like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark there (not to mention crap like Willow), and it's really too bad the adjacent property, The Round--a high density mixed use, transit-oriented facility--has had mixed-to-disappointing results. Fear not, citizens of Beaverton, we will throw you density's cultural life preserver yet! Seriously, though, I hope they won't get scared and make the Westgate another strip mall.
Speaking of which, Beaverton also has agreed to sell property on Southwest Hall Boulevard to Habitat For Humanity for the construction of five more houses, which apparently was already finished last year. Glad the counting of your chickens before hatching went off okay, fellas. Meanwhile, the thought strikes me: should Habitat For Humanity perhaps try to focus more of its resources on high-density housing for the less well off? That seems more realistic to me given the region's density goals.
There are a couple more blurbs I won't bore you with, but all of this, along with my own experiences recently, remind me of the drum that Randy Gragg and others have beaten: that the state needs to get busy rebuilding bridges, looking at more highways, and repairing the ones we've got, all in addition to a serious investment in inter and intra-city rail. I sure hate having lane closures and all the other construction headaches, and a poor journalist has no business campaigning for more taxes. But I'm revving my engine at those parked in the way of reasonable progress.