Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

The Best Practices of Portland's Streetcar Concept Plan

More News & Resources:

The "Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan," the draft of which was released for public review on July 1, 2009, has been added to the Best Practices.

The document is intended to provide the context and background that has helped shape the Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan. It summarizes the technical research and experience to date with streetcar service in Portland and elsewhere.

The "Why a Streetcar Network" chapter outlines the growth that the city expects and a vision that sees streetcars as a valuable means to help shape that growth. This chapter also details the goals for the Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan process and how this process relates to other planning efforts.

"Why Streetcars" outlines the characteristics that help make streetcars uniquely positioned  to meet these objectives and explains how streetcars fit into a range of transit services and into an overall transit system.

"What is a Streetcar Corridor" examines how streetcar corridors can both accommodate growth and protect existing neighborhoods, and introduces the concept of coordinating transportation investments with other infrastructure improvements in green corridors.

"Streetcar System Planning Process" outlines the measures by which the city and technical team evaluated corridors for potential streetcar expansion and the concurrent public process that supported key decisions.

"Streetcar System Concept Plan" summarizes a network of corridors that were determined to be the most viable to introduce streetcar service as the system expands in a manner to serve neighborhoods outside of the Central City. A short list of concept corridors is also defined and assembled into 6 Concept Routes.

"Economic Development Potential for Concept Corridors" is an overview of the influences streetcar service may have on development while respecting the unique character of Portland’s neighborhoods. A high-level summary of the economic development potential along priority streetcar corridors is included as well as a report on a Developer Roundtable review of the priority corridors.

"Implementation/Next Steps" discusses the funding options that are currently the most viable for the Concept Streetcar Corridor Routes as well as provides a summary of the next steps needed to move forward with concept corridors and adopting a city-wide master plan for a network of streetcar lines.

* * *

Also added to Best Practices is a May 15, 2002 article for the Michigan Land Use Institute "Making Tough Streets A Little Friendlier: Bethel New Life transforms Chicago’s west side," describing how  a church-based community development corporation on Chicago’s west side is using a recently modernized rail transit line as the backbone of an ambitious retail and single family home development plan that it hopes will transform some of this city's toughest streets.

One of the two pillars in Bethel New Life’s development plan is Parkside Estates, an urban enclave of handsome two-story, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, single-family houses on North Hamlin Boulevard in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. They are two blocks from a busy shopping district on West Madison Street, one block from the elevated Lake-Pulaski rail station on Chicago’s Green Line and across the street from Garfield Park. Both the neighborhood elementary and middle schools are within a 10-minute walk.

The other pillar is a planned $4 million, 23,000-square-foot Transit Center that is to include shops and restaurants on the first floor, a day care center and employment office on the second floor and a walkway that connects the building to the Lake-Pulaski station. The Transit Center, which is to produce some of its own energy with photovoltaic generators.

Chicago city planners say, Parkside Estates and the Transit Center are proving that some of the same promising demographic and economic trends that are strengthening the Loop, Chicago’s central business and retail district, are also helping to revive low-income and minority neighborhoods.

* * *

In 2007, the Federal Transit Administration issued rules requiring that projects receiving FTA funding for service for the elderly and disabled, the Job Access and Reverse Commute program, and the New Freedom program must have a "public transit-human service transportation coordination plan". The San Bernardino Associated Governments' "Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Coordination Plan For San Bernardino County" has been added to the Best Practices.

San Bernardino County's 200 page document, which was released Dec. 17, 2007, allows for projects to be selected based on how these three program funds will be made available. Chapter sub-areas give consideration to the very unique areas that comprise a County of 20,000 square miles and a population of 1.99 million.