Portland releases proposed list of streetcar routes, including MLK Blvd.

This month, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation released its proposal for an expanded network streetcars. The “concept corridor” for inner Northeast Portland is a streetcar line that runs from Riverplace to NE MLK & Killingsworth.

The ‘Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan’ Public Review Draft says:

The NE MLK Jr. Blvd. corridor, from NE Killingsworth to NE Broadway, has had limited success from previous urban revitalization eff orts. Aff ordable housing and some increased commercial activity has occurred, though there are still substantial gaps with vacant or underutilized property. A streetcar could
be the catalyst that has been missing, but its success in energizing urban revitalization may depend on the successful redesign of the whole streetscape. This could include transforming the segment into a more pedestrian-friendly street with streetcar service rather than a heavy traffi c through street. There is strong street front redevelopment potential with a moderate number of underutilized parcels.

MLK Boulevard is considered the stronger alternative to running a streetcar along Williams and Vancouver Avenues, due to heavier traffic along MLK. An earlier draft of the streetcare line for MLK involved eliminating the #6 bus line altogether as a redundancy, and while this proposal is vague on the subject (“Need to develop transit integration strategy that minimizes the need for transfers and optimizes transit utility for all system users”), it seems likely that the 6 would end at Killingsworth, if this line were to be built.

The full ‘Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan’ Public Review Draft is viewable online here; it’s a large pdf file, so be patient. It includes the currently proposed routes for a streetcar plan, as well as descriptions of each stage of the process of evaulating potential routes.

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5 comments

  1. Thank you for all you do on your blog. They really need to finally pay more attention to MLK. Real transportation, not just a little streetcar. And it needs to go all the way down to Lombard! I’ve ridden the #6 for years and it’s always crowded, any time of day including weekends, yet they keep focusing on transportation to and from the ‘burbs. Oy.

  2. What a joke….. MLK is Highway 99. It is a major thoroughfare, i.e. a heavy traffic through street. Changing it to a slow, pedestrian friendly slow moving street is utterly absurd. Good look getting ODOT to go along with those plans. We need major arteries to keep traffic flowing smoothly. Wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on a street car to “revitalize” MLK is a pipe dream. There is good bus service already. They could spend 1/10th the cost of the streetcar and increase service substantially. Streetcar as a catalyst for development is code for big kickbacks to condo developers. No thanks.

  3. MLK has not been Hiway 99 for several years. The City of Portland bought it from ODOT in a trade for some other property. Although I might not agree that streetcars are the answer, I wonder who CAM thinks “they” are and who are the condo developers? Name names if you have real information …

  4. Eric –

    You are right, in 2002 ODOT handed over the reigns.

    “they” are: the city of portland, and trimet.

    “condo developers” = the usual suspects. PDC, Gerding Edlen, Homer Williams, etc.

    Let me break it down for you…. no more tax incentives for PDC or another developer to build monstrosities in an area that is no longer blighted. Oh wait, you worked on one of those projects Eric….. The Heritage Building. And oh how well it is doing. Hey, you did succeed in gentrifying Alberta though, right?

  5. Hi, I noticed that you mentioned Javarama had shut down but I have re-opened a coffee shop called Caffe Brioso in its place. Feel free to come check it out sometime as we serve high quality, local, fair trade/organic product with excellent customer service to boot! I see that you are very aware of what is going on with the community and I appreciated your article as I am new to Portland. Thank you for your research! Megan Kennedy

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