Saturday, June 20, 2009

Portland MAX downtown

Downtown Portland is the hub of three MAX light rail lines (map below): the original Eastside to Gresham (1986) with Westside extension to Hillsboro (1998) Blue Line, Airport (2001) Red Line, and Interstate (2004) Yellow Line (click links for more). Here an Airport train passes Pioneer Place.

Nordstrom's success in downtown Portland contrasts with the trend to suburban malls in other cities. During peak periods 16 trains per hour per direction pass through the one-way couplet on Morrison and Yamhill Streets.

This sidewalk cafe, very compatible with quiet light rail trains passing, complements downtown (7/00; other photos 7/03).

Trains passing through the Saturday Market area demonstrate the pedestrian-oriented ambiance Portland is known for.

Old Town / Chinatown is the last stop before the Gresham, Airport, and Interstate lines cross the Steel Bridge east over the Willamette River.

Riders head home after Fourth of July fireworks over the Willamette River in downtown Portland.

Portland's first line from downtown east to Gresham opened in 1986. It's since grown to 44 miles. Portland's total ridership is over 100,000 average weekday boardings. (map source)

Portland Eastside MAX

Portland's original 15-mile MAX ("Metropolitan Area Express") Light Rail line opened in 1984 from downtown, across the Steel Bridge over the Willamette River (left), to Gresham (10/93).

After passing Lloyd Center its right-of-way is on the north side of the Banfield Freeway (right of the barrier), here at the station at N.E. 60th Street (10/93).

Beyond the freeway right-of-way it runs in the median of E. Burnside Street. Here we're approaching a typical median split station at 122nd Avenue (7/00).

Here is the far side platform of of that station, also showing the signal-controlled intersection (7/00).

Here are typical median tracks with landscaped borders along E. Burnside Street. The railings in the distance are a pedestrian crossing (7/00).

"Train? What train?" (7/00)

This is the terminus in Gresham, at the end of the original short single-track section (since widened to two tracks), with Mt. Hood in the distance (10/93).

Portland Westside MAX

Looking west on S.W. Jefferson Street from S.W. 18th Avenue, leaving downtown Portland, while the line was still under construction. The eastern portal for the tunnel below Washington Park is just past the high bridge (7/96; other photos 7/00). Tracks pass a pond as it curves away from the freeway toward downtown Beaverton. The first major expansion of Portland MAX, the Westside line to Hillsboro opened in 1998. The station at Orenco Station, one of the new housing developments planned around this line. Mixed-use and cottage houses are located close to the station in the New Urbanist development of Orenco Station, "Named by the National Association of Home Builders as 'America’s Community of the Year' in 1999." This is a good example of landscaped parkways (the strip between the sidewalk and street) in limited space on S.E. Washington Street in Hillsboro, after the tracks transition from private right-of-way to street median. Note the trees on this station platform in Hillsboro on S.E. Washington Street. The terminus in Hillsboro shows an older high-floor car (center) and newer low-floor cars.

Portland Interstate MAX

Portland's Interstate Avenue was the main road north to the Columbia River and Washington before I-5 was built. In decline, it's been brought back with the 2004 opening of Interstate MAX, the Yellow Line.

This is a typical station at Overlook Blvd., looking south. The original four-lane boulevard became median tracks and bicycle lanes (looking north from Overlook Blvd.) These 7/03 late-construction photos were before parkway landscaping was complete. This is a standard signal-controlled intersection by Ockley Green Middle School at Ainsworth Street, looking north. Chains discourage mid-block crossing. The 4,000-foot Vanport Bridge crosses a southern slough of the Columbia River. The current terminus is at Expo Center on the edge of the Columbia River. A new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River may take tracks north to Vancouver, Washington. This zig-zag pedestrian crossing directs people to look first left, then right for safety with on-coming trains. The 5.8-mile Interstate MAX line cost $350M, of which the federal New Starts share was $257.5M. More in this Tri-Met PDF fact sheet.

Los Angeles Green Line

Much of the Los Angeles Metro Green Line is in the median of the I-105 freeway, built at the same time. Here is a train at the Long Beach Boulevard station (12/07). Waiting here is VERY LOUD. After the Aviation station (two miles from LAX, connected only by airport shuttle bus) the line curves south of the freeway (03/03).

Unique among modern U.S. light rail lines, it is entirely grade-separated because it was originally planned for automated operation. Here is the aerial guideway and station along Nash Street at Mariposa Avenue in El Segundo (03/03). Landscaping and path beneath the aerial structure (03/03). Passing Mattel's headquarters and other office buildings at Grand Avenue in El Segundo (03/03). Entrance to the aerial station at El Segundo Boulevard (03/03). A new light rail bridge and older BNSF Railroad truss bridge diagonally cross the intersection of Aviation Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue (04/03). The current terminus is at Marine Avenue (04/03). It's a long way up to that platform! Future extensions south, north to LAX, and east to Norwalk Metrolink are in Metro's Long Range Transportation Plan. More at Friends of the Green Line. The 20-mile Green Line (map source) opened in 1995 for a cost of $718M. Recent ridership has been around 39,000 average weekday boardings. Weekday peak headways are 7-8 minutes; middays and weekends are 15 minutes; nights are 20 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

L.A. Eastside construction 2008

We'll begin with construction progress on the Los Angeles Eastside Gold Line this year. This is the bridge from Union Station (distant left) over the 101 freeway and crossing Aliso Street east of Alameda Street, looking east (2/08).

Rails on the bridge, looking south from the end of the Union Station platforms (7/08).

After the Little Tokyo station on Alameda, the line turns east on 1st Street to cross the Los Angeles River (distant center-left), looking east (2/08).

At Mission Road just east of the 1st Street bridge, East L.A. New High School No.1 under construction on the left, western tunnel portal in the distance on the right, looking east (3/08).

Subway station on 1st Street at Soto Street, looking west (5/08).

Eastern tunnel portal on 1st Street west of Lorena Street, Evergreen Cemetery on the right, looking west (5/08).

Just east of the 60 freeway crossing, on 3rd Street at Downey Road, New Calvary Cemetery on the right, looking east (3/08).

The station on 3rd Street at Mednik Avenue, Griffith Middle School on the right, looking east (3/08).

Here is the terminus station on 3rd Street at Atlantic Boulevard, looking west (5/08). A number of corridors from El Monte to Whittier are now being considered for potential future extension east.

This is the map from the Final EIS/EIR (in Executive Summary Graphics). The 6-mile line, with twin 1.8-mile tunnels (red on map) under narrow 1st Street in Boyle Heights, is scheduled to open in 2009. Budgeted cost is $898M, including a federal New Starts share of $490.7M.