Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, November 8, 2013

Transit - Going Places (Part 1) - Are you a Northie or a Southie? SW Corridor Plan (Part 1)

Ever wonder what the Central Planners at Metro, Clackamas County, Oregon Department of Transportation, Federal Transportation Administration, etc. do all day?  They draw lines on papers  - or trace lines on computer CAD programs to come up with the next big thing.  It is usually what the Planners think will make life better, the region more livable, and people more… happy?  I don't know if happy ever enters into their deliberations.  If it did, wouldn't you think they would ask us first before they made big changes?  Not just the handful of people that go to the open houses, and not just the politically aware people that hang out online and fill out questionnaires, but getting approval from the public at large before charging ahead with a plan or, as they like to say, "vision."

Here are some Central Planners' visions for our future.  Let me know if they make you happy.  I know I fell tingly all over, but it doesn't feel like happy.

Exhibit 1:  The SW Corridor High-Capacity Transit map, part of Metro's Southwest Corridor Plan.
The SW Corridor Plan encompasses the area mostly west of I-5, though does directly touch upon the Kruse Way - Center Point Employment Center.  But what I find even more interesting is the yellow line passing through the middle of Lake Oswego - from Milwaukie to Tualatin - as part of a "Next Phase Regional Priority Corridor."
I feel safe in assuming that because Milwaukie is getting a light rail line from Portland, and because there is a railroad bridge that crosses the Willamette between Milwaukie and Lake Oswego, and because the line traces the route of the railroad freight line through Lake Oswego, there is a pretty good chance that Metro is planning on putting a light rail connection right through town, effectively bisecting the city into North and South Lake Grove and Downtown Town Centers are shown prominently and figure to be stops along the route which fits into the plan for increased density in the Town Centers.  This will turn our small town into 2 Station Communities and a pass-through for everyone wanting to go from east to west over the Willamette River between Sellwood and Oregon City.  But I could be wrong.  These are just lines on paper after all.

ODOT had this route marked as an option for their Eugene-to-Portland heavy rail passenger line, however, in recent months their proposed route has moved off to join the Am-Track route through Oregon City and then to Portland.  This makes one wonder why ODOT isn't updating Am-Track instead, except that would not allow more people to be hired and employed in Salem and creating projects for heavy industries - whether they are needed or not.  It's not their money.

But what about Lake Oswego?  And what about the residents who would be living next to the tracks that would be in use all day long (and evenings too?) bringing people from all over the Metro area into the neighborhoods?  Many people can hear the freight trains now when they pass through town, but it is so infrequent it is tolerable.  Getting from North to South will cause one to ask, "What side of the tracks are you on?" since getting across them will be more difficult.   Put that in your "place-making" and "community-building" hat and smoke it.

In order not to go too long in one message, I will continue reporting on transportation planning in future blogs posts.  If you have any information or questions, please contact me.  I will leave you with one last thought - why would we want to be like everywhere else?  These trains aren't cute toys and they are being pushed way too hard in a rather low density region to be all that useful or desirable.  Something is up.


  1. Your question "What's Up" is a good one. I believe what is up is that the genius central planners are taking over and telling us what we need. It is the new urban-ism cloaked in progressiveness. Progressives always think that they know what is best and the others are uninformed. It is the main differentiating factor between progressives and moderates/conservatives. The moderate/conservative believes they decide what is best for themselves while the progressives believe they cannot. It is at the core of a lot of the issues facing society today but does not get called out enough.

  2. Your blog is excellent- and makes good points- keep up the good work! I am sure that eventually the light railers will get their way regardless of what the majority truly desires. We moved from Oregon 18 months ago for that very reason; we were sick and tired of living in a "Nanny state" that dictates how we will live.

  3. When I attended the first public meetings (before the uprising) on the Portland to Lake O streetcar I kept asking the Metro planners why they weren't considering an alternate route option that would connect Foothills to the new Milwaukie line via the existing railroad bridge. Common sense dictated that it would have cost much less than the $485 million estimated for the west side route. The answer from Metro was always, no it wouldn't provide a significant cost savings. Finally, one of the advisory committee members gave me a copy of a Metro memo that stated that the bridge was going to be utilized for the proposed future east west line. The beat goes on!

  4. Does anyone remember back in the '60s when ODOT planned for a freeway to cut right through LO and the city (the political leaders and influential people working together) pushed back? The freeway would have gone in where Kruse Way is now and taken out much of Boones Ferry Rd. and Forest Highlands and parts of Tryon Creek Park on its way to the river. The people fought the machine then and LO was spared for 50 years as a quiet, town that was able to develop its own character. I may have some details wrong, but the point is that a little isolation is not a bad thing. Having a light rail or streetcar in our midst will bring density and who knows what else, but it won't be Lake Oswego anymore.