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Mike Thelin

I agree completely with Brian, but I have some reservations regarding the cost of improvements, which I'll address later.
Not only is the freeway an eyesore, I believe it prevents the city from connecting with its most often-overlooked amenity--the river. There is no Paris without the Siene and no London without the Thames, and no Dublin without the Liffey. While Portland really cannot liken itself to the aforementioned cities, it will certainly never aspire to a world-class city until it connects itself with the body of water that dissects it.

Even if the freeway were removed, the Central Eastside would never become the Pearl. The Central Eastside is an already functioning mixed-use neighborhood that has more industry, commerce, amenities, and people than the pre-developed Pearl ever had. Two of the city's most traveled avenues traverse the neighborhood in addition to many of Portland's primary east-west arterials. Plus, it's location in the Eastside is certainly a barrier for many uppity well-heeled Westsiders who can count on one hand how many times they've crossed the river.

As for the costs, I'm not sure the Federal Government will be willing to allocate money to burying freeway systems any time soon after the Big Dig debacle in Boston, and it will be very difficult to convince Portland taxpayers to fix the freeway when they're more rightfully concerned about fixing schools.


When Earl is made Transportation committee chairman, it will happen. So, say, 2024.

Ray Whitford

I am so happy that this subject/issue is not dying. I have asked the politicans to look at the eastside as an opportunity to truly turn Portland into a "World Class" city because of what we do with the Eastbank Freeway.

Phase 1

Moving the freeway to 8th/9th(?) and placing a tunnel under the river will create only the first step. But first, the Central Eastside Industrial Area needs special zoning to keep its vitality and support functions viable. This area supports all the resturants of the core is one of the examples. The eastside is needed for the artist and ad firms that also support the core. Finally, software, annimation, and film companies will complete the mix with help from incentives. Living space should be the secondary need and should be focused to areas close to the river or near the new I5 alignment. There are already height restrictions (per the PDC) in order to retain the west side views and this is great in order to focus on the 5-10 story retail/live-work developments.

Getting rid of the Marquam Bridge should mainly be for capacity and design issues. Comparing this move with the "Big Dig" in Boston isn't correct because the cost of the two project are not even close. I'm guessing our move of the freeway will be close to 2 Billion dollars (500 million for the tunnel under the river; 500 million for tunnels under the Lloyd Center area to line up with I-5 near the Rose Garden; and 1 Billon for the ramps, land purchases along the chosen alignment, and the 20 blocks of below grade freeway). The "Big Dig" in Bostion cost what, 10 Billion dollars?

What will 2 Billion dollars buy us?

A larger capacity freeway at the heart of Oregons largest city to move freight into and out quickly. I5 right now was designed back in the 1960's. That alone should be a flag that we are way behind the curve.

But even more important is the chance to become a truly great city.

Phase 2

First, the land opened up from the Rose Garden down to OMSI should be looked at for three purposes: transportation, recreation, and finally redevelopment close to the river and at the new freeway alignment.

Transportation - A park with paths for walking and biking. A world case skateboard park and watertaxi docks/marinas and an area too truly touch the water. Most important to myself is the concept of a High Speed Train line should stay on the east side of the Willamette River in order to create a straight line North to Vancouver (Portland is not only a freight bottleneck, it is a passenger train bottleneck with the two crossings of the Willamette River). High Speed Trains would be located on elevated tracks to give the riders from around the world a truly world class view of downtown, Mt Hood, and the east side. Union Station and the Bus Station are moved to the land just South of the Convention Center where the I-5/I-84 interchange once was (or closer to the Rose Quarter/MAX line area). Watertaxi's and possible a tram line from the South (West end of Morrison Bridge? and hopefully starting near the Brooklyn neighborhood) would be connectors not yet spoken of in public. I have already asked the I5 Partnership and local and national politicans from Oregon to be aware of the chance we have to design in this alignment for high speed rail into the new bridge design being designed right now at the Columbia River Crossing. If this can be done at the Eastbank, we should save the $1 Billion dollars for a new HST bridge at the Columbia River by designing into the superstructure and capacity of the new bridge design a single or double tracks for HST.

Recreation - Creating a new park along the river and at other eastside locations closer to the new alignment create the truly loop that is part of Vera Katzs' legacy. I will not get into this for obvious reasons that creating parks create future recreational choices possible.

Redevelopment - Close to the river and near the new alignment could create opportunity for billions of dollars of mixed use building and businesses that are not incorporated yet. We need locations like the eastside to make them look at Portland or to stay in Portland.

Phase 3

The freight line should be redesigned to avoid interaction with the street grid (tunnel?). I believe the freight line should be done last in order to let the east side businesses know that redevelopment of their land is not the final goal.


Portland has forgotten why it started to be a city. It's the transportation location that is our main reason for our founding fathers and mothers to decide on this piece of forest.

If we create ways for people to be able to move quickly and easily through the core, then the individuals who are able to slow down and enjoy the views will be able to go from location to location taking pictures of an American city that choose to embrace all forms of transportation and recreation.

This is a vision for 30 years out, but I hope it comes to pass when I turn 75 years old.

Nice vision for an old man to leave his two year old son.

Ray Whitford


I hope they continue with this, I think it is a great idea for Portland. It is a huge risk to take, but this city has made those kinds of risks before. I think this one should be the next big risk the city takes.

Anything that keeps us ahead of Seattle in the way of transportation is a good thing.

Ray Whitford

Found an article in the Oregonian today that said the Big Dig in Boston was up to $14.6 Billion!

Portland and our I5 congestion could have used that kind of money very well.

For just $5 Billion in the next 30 years, we could have a North/South corridor for cars, freight and high speed trains that would carry us through the next 100 years.

Collin S. Ferguson

Something I believe deserves attention in this discussion is the planning of "half tunnels." Unfortunately, the URL I posted takes you to a document you have to purchase, but at least it is an introduction the use and cost advantage of half-tunnels. Another website I would suggest is http://www.tunnellingforum.com/.

But, back to the idea of half-tunnels. After learning about my brother's experience living in Boston, MA during the big dig, I am quite skeptical of what real advantages full underground tunnels truly provides. Meeting the equilibrium cost point, where costs change into profits, for the Boston Big Dig is going to take too much time. Thus, I believe half-tunnels are the cheaper and most effective plan for East Portland. The tunnel under the river would be a full underground tunnel, but the rest of the land tunnel would only be a half-tunnel.

The other thing, East Portland does not have is an equivalent to the west side’s Park Blocks. The roof of the half tunnel would serve that purpose. An earth-spacing between opposing traffic would provide space for root growth of trees. I would suggest a canopy of Alder, Douglas fir, and Giant Leaf Maple.

The park if designed correctly it could also become one of METRO's dreams, a "Dog Park" or "Pet Park." Hey, why not if the park is designed to take on the extra nitrogen from your dog? The roof of the tunnel could be designed with trails and meeting spots, and of course, extended fields so that you and your dog have plenty of space to play fetch.

I would also suggest the designing of Gazebos by Portland modern artists. Don't you think that we could KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD with some strange looking Gazebos in the Eastside Park Blocks?

Finally, the roof would be designed with emission stacks that have environmentally friendly scrubs to prevent the release of CO2 and other emissions into the environment. Many modern scrubs are being designed with water born algae. So, what if that was a part of the design of the park? The park would collect rain water and storm run-off and support a pond and stream plant/algae ecosystem to prevent the release of dangerous CO2 into the environment.

In the end, not only are half-tunnels cheaper and less time consuming to build, they would provide a new park system on the Eastside, especially for your dog. They would be another canvass for Portland artists and landscape architects, and if designed properly, half-tunnels would be environmentally safer than the current freeway system.

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