Reason #1,527,009 why Portland is the bomb!

Gorgeous picture of the new tram that connects the Willamette riverfront with OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University, THE local hospital complex) up on what’s usually known around here as “Pill Hill.” The tram has been the focus of some local controversy regarding initial and ongoing cost, funding, NIMBY action, etc., and it remains to be seen if it’s a success or not. I favor it, mostly because OHSU is a gigantic facility with major parking and congestion issues, complicated by the fact that it’s perched high on the side of the West Hills and the only two roads up to it are steep, narrow, curvy and hellish whenever there’s snow or ice. The tram gives a practical way to move large numbers of people to and from the hospital without straining further its already bursting to capacity parking and traffic issues. Here’s the Wikipedia article on the tram.

Regardless, the thing is really quite beautiful and I’m SO looking forward to trying it out when it’s open to the public.

After ten years I still stop whatever I’m doing at least once a week to marvel to myself “I live here!” I love this town…

This is what Oakland California needed. They are paying for a multi billion dollar bridge because they thought the old one to too ugly to retrofit for the next earthquake.
Instead, they should have retrofitted the bridge for a mere 1/4 billion and spent the rest on fancy tourist draws like sky ways.

The thing about the tram, though, is that it’s anything BUT a tourist draw! According to this PDF as of 2004 OHSU had 11,500 employees, 2550 medical students and racks up about almost a million patient visits per year. All that traffic being funnelled up two narrow, winding streets to a complex which has absolutely zero room for more parking is a logistical nightmare which the tram is designed to relieve. The South Waterfront area is flat, had no existing infrastructure to displace worth mentioning, has access from I-5 and downtown Portland along with being situated at the foot of the Ross Island bridge–a major conduit of traffic from the east side of the river. There’s lots of room for parking structures at the foot of the tram, they’re building the newest extensions of the OHSU facilities down there, and the area is central to bring all the mass transit to a hub in that location. Although tourists may very well queue up to ride the tram, its primary function is to get thousands of people to and from the hospital every day. It’s considered to be part of the mass transit system, rather than a stand alone utility.

All in all, it’s a very forward thinking approach to a civic necessity–access to the largest health care provider in Oregon.

For a second I misread the title and thought Portland HAS the bomb. Not as bad as Alabama, but still…

Well, we do have the Alcatel submarine repair facility north of downtown–who knows what those things bring to town? :eek: