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Rolling trains are hard to stop once they gather momentum
There is no public endorsement of the proposed Portland Metro streetcar to Lake Oswego. Limited polls show an approximate 'yes/no' split.
In recent weeks, the Review has contained primarily negative pieces expressing concerns that city council is moving without citizen support. Council has not felt it wise to put the matter before voters. Additionally, Lake Oswego is not in the driver's seat; Portland Metro is. The train proposal is now rolling, and it is gaining speed. At a certain point Lake Oswego may not have means to stop this train.
Complicating the issue is the push by Foothills property owners. The train is their prerequisite for redevelopment and related earnings. They are making investments. Examples of such efforts are Lake Oswego Review ads titled 'Streetcar and Foothills Housing Options for Seniors and Young Families,' signed by property owners and Foothills campaigners Judie Hammerstad and Ellie McPeak. These same developers persevered for development of Portland's South Waterfront with its towers, tram and trolley that receive high citizen criticism.
To this point it has been appropriate for the council to gather data, provide forums, and hear inputs. Now it is time for the council to determine the direction preferred by the majority of its citizens and to act accordingly. I implore our city council to extensively poll its citizens, publish convincing results, and act accordingly. Additionally, the council should specify the timeframe for a public vote.
This is also an appeal to citizens to answer questions that enable a clear response to the city council. Some example questions:
* Do I use Portland bus service?
* Would I use Portland streetcar service?
* Am I willing to have the city provide the infrastructure and traffic control for commuters from West Linn, Oregon City and Lake Oswego?
* What is my hope for the look, feel, and advantages of redeveloped Foothills?
* What is my hope for the look, feel, controls, and advantages of end-terminal parking?
* How much in increased taxes would I spend in support of the train?
* How much in increased taxes would I spend for redeveloped Foothills?
* Would the train be viewed for decades as an ineffective governmental investment?
* Am I willing to put up with the impacts on transportation and community during construction?
* How will I ensure that my opinion is taken into account?
Please consider the following points:
* Alongside the Willamette, the train is not centrally located to LO's population.
* The majority of Route 43 commuters (West Linn, Oregon City) will stay in their cars to Portland.
* Costs for the train system are considerable. The 40-year projected payback is excessive.
* There would be a permanent negative impact upon Willamette River environment.
* Creativity in utilizing Route 43 has been limited. Good solutions may be obtained via bidirectional lane controls (morning/evening), electric vehicles, etc.
* Bus 35 accesses downtown Portland and the Pearl (two miles of stops) within 25 minutes from State, A, B, and Fourth streets.
Pushers for the train are Portland Metro and city developers. It is now time for citizens' voices to be counted and the majority voice followed.
Les Furnanz is a resident of Lake Oswego.