Albina Rail Yard Relocation

By Monique Haskins

If any city’s residents stick around for a while, they are likely to witness some sort of transformation. During Portland’s history, the city’s boundaries have physically changed, absorbing neighboring cities, like Albina, into the fold. Portland’s demographics and key industries have also shifted over the years. In previous versions of Portland, residents realized that some forms of transportation were better suited for the growing city than others and invested in transforming to new transport modes. Vestiges of these changes remain visible; some houses in Eliot have horse tethering rings anchored to the curb, evidence of the early 1900s, when deliveries were made with horse and wagon instead of by truck.

Mo Badreddine, a Portland-area local from birth and the driving force behind the Albina Rail Yard Relocation Project, hopes that Portlanders are at the cusp of another change. Badreddine is encouraging communities to ask Union Pacific to relocate its railroad infrastructure out of the center of the city. Badreddine believes that a new location for the railroad will benefit Union Pacific and Portlanders through improved operational efficiency, decreased traffic interference, and lower pollution. In addition, if Union Pacific were to relocate from Albina, they would vacate 215 acres of riverfront property. With development funds and community input, the former rail yard could be reimagined as mix of housing, shopping, parks, and public spaces contributing to Portland’s overall attractiveness and livability.

With increasing pressures on air quality from projects such as the Oregon Department of Transportation’s proposed Interstate 5 expansion and high traffic through the Central Eastside, any project looking to decrease pollution is worth exploration. Along with cleaner air, relocating the railroad infrastructure would improve access to other parts of Portland, and provide an economic boost through new shops, restaurants, and jobs. With this in mind, below you will find an interview with Mo Badreddine on the importance of the relocation project and how you can help.

What are your goals for the Albina Rail Relocation Project? Ultimately, our goal is to create a new path for Union Pacific that will increase the railroad’s operational efficiency, alleviate operational, safety, and environmental concerns for the public, while also retaining the economic benefits of UP’s railroad service to our community. In addition to that, I think we can redevelop the site(s) into a more communal and meaningful space where, housing, transit, art, health, science, and wildlife all coexist.

How did you get involved with the project? My curiosity and passion for large-scale infill redevelopment stumbled me into Homer [Williams]’s office many-a-years ago, and like many, I’m a product of my environment. Homer’s efforts are focused on getting people off the streets with his non-profit, Oregon Harbor of Hope, so Portland is incalculably lucky to have him. (oregonharborofhope.org)

What do you want Eliot neighborhood residents to know about the project? Probably the same thing we’ve been telling everyone: we’re not crazy. Rail relocation is not a new solution — rather, it is one that has proven to be effective and necessary given the right conditions. It is happening all throughout the United States, in big and small markets alike: Memphis, Burlington, Boston, Nashville, San Gabriel, Lafayette (IN), Reno, Chicago, LA, and Salt Lake City, are among the cities that are planning or have taken steps to move their rail facilities from urban core to outlying areas. I encourage you to think big, to think as big as you possibly can because this is a generational opportunity for every individual, motorist, cyclist and organization, living near or commuting through the CEIC (Central Eastside Industrial District).

What’s the status of funding for the study? We’re a little more than $5,000 short (of reaching our $25,000 goal), which is incredible. When we raise the remaining amount, the community will be able to say that this is a community funded & driven effort and ultimately, get to be a stakeholder throughout the decision-making process.

What can individual residents do to get involved with the project? Every dollar helps. With your assistance, we can let the creative engineers explore the possibilities of moving the Albina & Brooklyn intermodal facilities. Donations are being accepted online at https://
http://www.albinarailrelocation.org/

Area Permit Parking Update

After the parking election in South Eliot, we have the results. As a reminder, the requirements for forming an area parking permit district were that 50% of ballots had to be returned and 60% of the returned ballots had to be in favor. From our election, we had 53% of ballots returned and 54% were in favor. Although the majority (54%) of ballots were in favor, this is below the 60% threshold so the Area Parking Permit (APP) didn’t pass.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation shared the results by block with us and the general trend was similar to our experiences chatting with folks. The further south people lived, the more in favor of forming APP folks were. There were blocks that voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming an APP.

The next step is PBOT is exploring launching a pilot program that would allow for smaller APP. Right now the APP must be at least 10,000 linear feet. The pilot would allow for a minimum of 5,000 linear feet. They’re doing this to help support us since there are small areas in our neighborhood that really want this. Once PBOT gets City Council’s support of forming pilot APPs, we could consider restarting the process.

Carried Away on a Bird

By Mike Warwick

montse-on-scooter.DPI_600.jpg
Mike Warwick’s scooter partner Montse Shepherd enjoying a fall day
on a Bird. Photo credit Mike Warwick

Being a senior citizen leads me to avoid risky behavior. I was never a skateboarder and my few attempts at rollerblading ended in scrapes and torn trousers. The idea of balancing on a narrow, two-wheeled platform that moved seemed insane. However, the recent favorable report about Portland’s scooter trial forced me to accept a neighbor’s invitation to test drive one. Like many residents, I begrudge riders on sidewalks, scooters blocking sidewalks, and worse, blocking curb cuts for strollers and wheelchairs. However, the report indicated users surveyed believe these could address the “last mile” problem keeping more city residents from using mass transit or their personal vehicle. So, time to put myself at risk to determine the truth for myself.

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Parking Permit Update

Parking permit sign in NW Portland for zone M
Parking permit sign in NW Portland

As you may remember, parking is an issue for neighbors in Eliot, especially in the southern part of the neighborhood. Whether it’s commuters parking here and taking the MAX into town, or Blazer fans using the streets for free event parking, it is becoming harder for neighbors to be able to find parking.

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Portland Neighbors Addressing Diesel Pollution

The stretch of I5 interstate highway running through the Eliot Neighborhood was measured by ODOT using a rubber strip sensor to be among the busiest truck routes in Oregon. This is due to in-city short-haul trucks that pace back and forth through Eliot making Portland freight deliveries. Our research into ODOT and DMV data found 75% of these in-city short-haul trucks are unfiltered. Unfiltered trucks are illegal to manufacture and are banned from all of California because they produce ten times as much diesel particulate as a filtered truck.

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Letter from the Land Use Chair Summer 2018

7th Avenue Traffic Calming Island

I think it is probably time for me to step down.  It has been 10+ years of involvement with the ENA Land Use committee and quite a few as chair.  During that time we have gone from a bust-to-boom economy and that means a bunch of new buildings in the works.  While many under-constructions projects are about to start renting out units, another cluster of buildings on the North Williams corridor is in the works with 4 new proposals adjacent to Williams and Cook alone. Portland’s new zoning map will be going into effect any day now and that might mean another flurry of proposals under the new rules, or a gentle slowdown in the incoming permits.

Continue reading Letter from the Land Use Chair Summer 2018

Portland Streetcar Adding Two New Streetcars

The City Council gave Portland Streetcar the green light on March 21 to purchase two new streetcars, allowing for more frequent service on the system’s A and B Loops connecting Downtown and the Central Eastside. As Portland continues to add new residents at a rapid pace, the additional vehicles will improve Portland Streetcar’s ability to connect people to housing, jobs, and services in the Central City when the new cars enter the fleet in 2020.

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Letter from the Land Use Chair Spring ’18

The Eliot Land Use & Transportation committee has had a busy few months.  We have a few new energetic members, and we have been busy discussing projects as well.

On the transportation side of things, we have been discussing the possibility of installing a parking permit district in southern Eliot.  I am really curious to hear what you think of this.  This doesn’t affect me personally, as I live on a block that would be outside of this district.  I live on a block that seems to have enough space for everyone to park most of the time.  However I realize that there are some who park on the next block over every day, and they feel like it is a problem for them to park on a regular basis.

Continue reading Letter from the Land Use Chair Spring ’18

Eliot Sewer and Stormwater Project Update

Waterline Relocation Work

Work to replace and relocate waterlines that will conflict with sewer and stormwater construction will begin again in June. After completing waterline relocation work, the Water Bureau will perform a series of quality control tests and may identify the need for additional work.

Continue reading Eliot Sewer and Stormwater Project Update

Land Use Update Winter 2018

Another turn around the sun and a number of new buildings coming to Eliot.  We’ve got a bunch of under-construction projects, including two projects on MLK – Cascadia’s Garlington Center at NE Morris Street (housing and social services) and PCRI’s C-shaped building a few blocks up between Cook and Ivy. There are also two projects going up in the southern Vancouver/Williams Corridor- 160 Units at Hancock and another 45 on Vancouver near Page.  A co-housing complex is going up at 20 NE Tillamook and Bridge Housing is proposing a 4-story building at Williams and Tillamook as well.

Continue reading Land Use Update Winter 2018

Eliot Sewer and Stormwater Project Update

Environmental Services is coordinating with the Water Bureau to relocate waterlines that will conflict with sewer and stormwater construction in the Eliot neighborhood. Crews were scheduled to begin in mid- December 2017 and continue relocation work through the end of February 2018. The map shows where crews will be working each month. This schedule may change due variables, including conditions underground, weather, subcontractor schedules and availability of materials.

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Land Use and Transportation End of Summer Update

I’ll talk transportation first because there are a few things happening on this front.  TriMet has a survey of what improvements they should make this year.  There was a bump in bus funding statewide as part of a large transportation package that passed this year.  At the top of Eliot’s priority list would be extending line #24 to NW Portland.  The #24 is currently a marginally useful line that runs from Legacy Emanuel hospital east along Fremont to Gateway TC.  The proposal is to have the line continue westward across the Fremont bridge to Goose hollow, connecting to the MAX on both ends.

Continue reading Land Use and Transportation End of Summer Update