« How about Chavez Circle? | Main | Brite Lights, Big Discussions »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

stan

Brian burying the railroad tracks or I-5 isn't going to happen for a lot of reasons but the prime one being that it's city policy that the central eastside be zoned as a industrial sanctuary. Why spend that kind of money if you can't redevelop the area to take advantage of the improvements a la Boston with the Big Dig.

cl

The Railroad owned the land before Portland was even a city, and they do not hesitate to remind everyone of that fact. I have heard this idea many times before, and do like the idea. While you are down there, you might as well cover I-5 too.

Beulah Mae

Why didn't we run the MAX underground downtown?

DC

I could have warned you that venturing into the Western reaches would only lead to wailing and lamentation!

chris

I feel your pain Brian. The west side rail near Union Station gets freight trains so long you can't cross from the Steel all the way to the Fremont. Usually at the most inconvenient time of course. The east side is worse I imagine, since there is a larger yard further north.

As cl mentioned, even if you had unlimited resources, getting the railroad industry to do anything progressive takes an act of congress. I'd be happy with more quiet zones on the Portland rail lines.

Alain

Come'on Brian, your kidding, right? Those train tracks are the primary reason why change (read: "development") has been slow in the CEID. As a 9 year artist tenant in the Central Eastside, if the tracks were buried (or removed from the surface) you'd see rapid fire development and displacement of many low rent tenants who rent studios and work space in the area. I could actually care less about the slight inconvenience, or even the noise, for people who have no real stake in the area. Those train tracks represent the prolonged life of an area with low-rent space. Portland is ridiculously expensive enough as is, esp given its meager offeringers for art and culture (the Portland Art Museum being a fine example). Long live inconvenience in the CEID, long live affordable artist work space! :) Alain

Mec

Alain, always so quick to bite the hand that pays the rent...

Alain

Posted by Mec? Is that your name, or an alias? Please elucidate... I'm not getting how my comment "bites the hand that pays the rent"? Are you referring to my Art & Culture comment, or something else?

ikh

It seems that your ideas about transportation planning have a lot to do with your convenience or inconvenience! What if everyone thought this way... Oh wait, they do.

John Russell

I think burying the entire east-side freeway would open up such land to even more development, not to mention the chance of having an actual waterfront.

Fredrick Zal

Brian,

I appreciate the point of view and your frustration with paused traffic flow.

I might make a few suggestions.
1. Don’t hate the trains, embrace them.
Many people love trains [and I’m not just talking about Freud]. The path they carve already has created valuable real estate, we just have not harnessed it. The next time you are biking or walking along, venture the stretch of land from OMSI to the Steel Bridge [the are you are focused upon]. All along this length are amazing warehouse / light-industrial buildings that are ready for mixed-use conversions. Since the trains no longer pause along this length, all of the loading docks could easily be converted into cafes or other pedestrian bawdy retail. The charm of the passing train used to be reveled by folks. And, since today’s trains are much less toxic to be near, one would not need to get lungs filled with soot as in the past.

2. Remember what happened in the Pearl District.
a. The Pearl District went in and people started to complain about the sound of the trains. The acoustic and light-seismic nature inherent to trains quickly became an issue. The Blitz-Weinhard brewery was and still is a Portland landmark. But, without the plumes of hops-scented steam rising out of the stacks, Portland just does not have the same sensibility. We were a town composed of beer, bicycles, book and raindrops. Now that beer is being made in Hood River, because people that moved into a light-industrial zone [aka the Pearl] refused to accept the nature of the place.
http://www.breweryblocks.com/historical.html
I believe such mentality is what led to Europe getting deforested, our ageless fight between arcadia [the wilderness] and ‘civilization’, an urban form of bigotry: We love ‘Us’, we hate ‘them’…

You might propose to bury the train, but the sound and vibrations will continue. The future condo associations will potentially create such a ruckus that the trains might go away there. If that happens, then we will have amputated not only something vital to our economy, but something intrinsic to our sense of place. Portland is a Ocean – River – Train town. It is our roots, and will potentially lead to our salvations as road transit become less appropriate.

b. Instead of burying the rails, we could much more easily create a few bridges over the rails. As you, or others, come down off of the Marquam bridge, there could be a viaduct that vaults over the rails that are just a block away. A second one could be placed next to OMSI / PCC to allow for extended traffic flow.
Of course, viaducts are another thing not appreciated in Portland. The Pearl District also eviscerated the Lovejoy Viaduct. Why? Well, the primary concern was the ‘shady’ zone that it created, which is ridiculous in a town that gets 9-10 months of rain. To have an impermeable covering that was in place and would have cost the adjacent land-owners nothing, we could have instead focused upon a pedestrian zone. Something akin to Las Ramblas in Barcelona. It could have been lined with cafes and retail, wall to wall people and café seating and no cars in the East-West direction. But, instead of allowing people to either bypass the traffic lights of the Pearl District or make a choice to take Hoyt / Glisan into the Pearl, we had to plunge a few more cars into a homogenized Lovejoy Street.
So, can we purposefully design and create a viaduct on the Eastside? I am not sure. Lippman party supply depends upon the auto traffic for their advertising, so they would be impacted, which would be unfortunate. Some of the logistics could be complicated, but Parson Brinkerhoff’s traffic engineers and I had looked into the OMSI / PCC option years ago while planning for the Eastbank Esplanade’s Crescent that never happened. It would be relatively inexpensive, potentially beautifully sublime, and have some great cultural opportunities.

So, I would simply say, that before we are able to do anything significant, we will need to shift our cultural perspective on multi-modal transportation’s weave into our City.

Plus, we can bury I-5 because traffic may be diverted along I-405 while each direction is being constructed. If we try to bury the train, it will halt usage for both the shipping industry and Amtrak. Two options I believe we would not want to do, as the pause / halt could then stammer our economy even further. Trains [Shipping and Amtrak] are a good thing. Embrace their potential!

Ciao,
Fredrick H. Zal
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
fzal@fhzal.com
503.236.4855

Atelier Z
an.architecture and industrial design studio
advocating dialogue in the fine + applied arts
http://www.fhzal.com/works

Frank Dufay

I love the CE as is, except for the interruptions of the train.

Those same trains used to block Powell, so the state redesigned Powell to go under it. That's a cheaper solution, and more readily doable.

I do have to quarrel with the folks who "love" the CEID "as is." I've lived in the HAND neighborhood for 18+ years --which includes the CEID-- and have seen businesses close becuaes of the anarchy...customers unable to park or get around all the trucks parked illegally.

Care to walk --or bike-- the CEID? How about the lack of sidewalks and walking around and with those same trucks in the street?

How about the huge swath of land that Oregon Department of Transportation continues to tie up which is used for...nothing at all?

Keeping the 'hood dumpy to get rents lower doesn't make for a good city, nor is it good for business. And if you think gentrification isn't on the horizon, what do you think the east side streetcar's all about?

I think keeping it an industrial sanctuary is important. That doesn't have to mean crappy streets, no sidewalks and lack of enforcement of city regulations. There's huge potential that is going untapped...

Andrew

Similar to the roundabout proposal for Sandy/Burnside/12th, it's the grades that rule this out. The trains would have to go up to get to the level of the Steel Bridge crossing. The length of this transition would likely take most of the distance of the CEID anyway. Just raise everything else up with service access below, like Wacker Drive in Chicago.

John T

"Keeping the 'hood dumpy to get rents lower doesn't make for a good city"

My idea of a "good city" includes centrally located work spaces that are affordable for artists and creative start-ups.

"...nor is it good for business"

Why does everything always have to be good for business?

chris

Fredrick H. Zal said


Now that beer is being made in Hood River, because people that moved into a light-industrial zone [aka the Pearl] refused to accept the nature of the place.
http://www.breweryblocks.com/historical.html

I had friends who worked at Blitz-Weinhard in the last days and the closure was a financial decision from companies far away from Portland, not from people who moved into the Pearl. Your own link says as much.

Thomas

I do not support the concept of placing the train tracks underground in the Central Eastside mainly due to the neighborhoods important role as a low income industrial pocket in an increasingly gentrified central city. The Central Eastside in home to about 3,000 lower income residents who are important for ensuring a more diverse social fabric in Portland. Another important asset of the Central Eastside is the 18,000 median income jobs provided in an area of central location where industries can grow from working with other nearby companies. Ultimately the Central Eastside's character and vitality are preserved by the freeway and rail lines that ripp between the neighborhood and the waterfront. The median income lifestyle created by this neighborhood forms a valuable buffer that actually helps to preserve affordability throughout the Hawthrone and Burnside areas. In the future the Central Eastside will add upwards of 5,000 new residents and many new blue and white collar jobs, but hopefully the general character of this area will continue to allow the neighborhood to stand as a role model of economic diversity and afforbabe housing in the central city - without full government investment.

dobrien

Great insight, F.H. Zal. I sometimes wonder if some people would like to suburbanize the very things that make a city a city. Good god: just look at that Pacifica nw condo setup near the Fremont Bridge. What the F happened to mixed use??

As a river resident (in Linnton), I have no choice but to embrace the rails and trains. I've also seen how neighbors describe living near the railroads as either a badge of honor -- *what train?* -- or to be championed as an integral part of our history or civilization itself. Trains also seem to be a powerful reminder that an authentic "sense of place" often occurs by accident, or when we stop worrying about making things easy, quiet and pleasant.

dobrien

Great insight, F.H. Zal. I sometimes wonder if some people would like to suburbanize the very things that make a city a city. Good god: just look at that Pacifica nw condo setup near the Fremont Bridge. What the F happened to mixed use??

As a river resident (in Linnton), I have no choice but to embrace the rails and trains. I've also seen how neighbors describe living near the railroads as either a badge of honor -- *what train?* -- or to be championed as an integral part of our history or civilization itself. Trains also seem to be a powerful reminder that an authentic "sense of place" often occurs by accident, or when we stop worrying about making things easy, quiet and pleasant.

chris

Rest easy central eastsiders. If Portland can't even cap 405, there is no way a super-dig like hiding the east side train would happen.

The real win would be burying east side freeways. Again, with the current budget projections, I doubt very much this will happen soon, or even in our lifetime.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lead Sponsors



Sponsors














Portland Architecture on Facebook

StatCounter

  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad

Paperblogs Network

Google Analytics

  • Google Analytics

Awards & Honors