After all of the input from our elected officials, hired consultants and the public covering all sides of the issue, I believe there is one clear choice in resolving our differences in deciding what to do with our trolley right-of-way. It happens to exhibit the following characteristics:
* Least expensive construction (a fraction of the consultants' fees alone);
* Least damaging to the environment;
* Most energy-efficient (not even close);
* Healthiest for our citizens, including our children;
* Contributes the least traffic congestion in downtown Lake Oswego;
* Takes more cars off the road than the cars projected in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement;
* Quickest timetable for completion
* Beautiful, enhanced venue for our community (even nicer than the $7.2 million Sundeleaf Plaza).
What is it?
A bicycle, walking, jogging, path connecting Lake Oswego to Portland, the new Sellwood Bridge (the east side) and West Linn. As technology develops, make it wide enough to include electric scooters and small electric vehicles.
What are the hurdles?
Present R-O-W easements say that if abandoned for rail use, the R-O-W reverts to the owners adjacent to the R-O-W. (I have talked to 10 owners along the R-O-W and they would gladly alter/waive their rights if a rail alternative is abandoned.)
The streetcar is being counted on by Mayor Hoffman and others to spur development in Foothills. I believe the difficulty in developing buildable land in Foothills (flood plain, sewer plant, Union Pacific tracks and State Street ingress/egress) will raise the land cost too high. The only economically feasible use of the land will be for very high buildings, not unlike the Pearl (District) and South Waterfront, and will not be developed for decades.
The rail proponents, including the majority of elected officials and municipal leaders and planners seem to have blinders on whether the proposed streetcar costs $458 million or half that. Bang for buck, environmental and energy saving concerns seem to be dismissed. Why? I have given up trying to figure it out. Let's stop the studies, conduct a citizen's survey ASAP and really focus on the one sensible choice: a bicycle, walking, jogging path.
Peter Sweet is a resident of Lake Oswego