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Jan 25, 2007, 4:04 PM
great pics! It appears you also caught a UFO flying over Portland in pics 3-5...Ha! I can't wait to ride this weekend!

Jan 25, 2007, 4:27 PM
Wow, awesome pictures. You can see Mt. Hood too, nice.

Jan 25, 2007, 4:38 PM
Such Great Heights:
Portland's New Tram Could Be Just What Portland Needs to Grow Up
BY AMY JENNIGES, The Portland Mercury
January 25, 2007

"This is huge for Portland," says Bobby Scarbrough, standing on the lower aerial tram platform in the South Waterfront District, and gesturing at the shiny silver bubble of a car gliding down the hill toward us.

Scarbrough is the tram "concierge"—he greets passengers at the station, answers tourists' questions, and has already witnessed first hand the impact it could have on the city. It opens to the public this weekend, but already "people love it," he says, beaming.

Indeed, as Scarbrough describes what the sunrise looks like from mid-air ("there's nothing more beautiful"), two women— possibly tourists, already making a pilgrimage to the tram—coo over how the curvy car "looks like a little character." They take turns posing for pictures in front of it.

The twin cars will have to endure plenty of flashbulbs this weekend: It only took two hours for every free ride slot—5,000 of them—to book up. The tram, Portland's newest mode of transportation, is certainly popular, and it'll definitely give visitors another stop on their tour of our city.

The tram's project manager, Art Pearce from the Portland Office of Transportation, arrives to escort me on the tram. He rattles off the mechanics and statistics of the system as we wait for the next car to arrive. It's a "bi-cable reversible aerial tram," with one car at each end of a 7,000-foot-long loop of "haul rope." When one car goes up the hill, the other descends, suspended from two cables as it floats over the Lair Hill neighborhood, clears the 197-foot tower next to the Ross Island Bridge, and docks at the lower station.

We step in, and I grab one of the poles in the open car, bracing for a jolt as we leave the station. It doesn't happen, and before I know it, we've popped up out of the station, and are smoothly climbing the hill. It's a 3,300-foot, four-minute ride, Pearce tells me (we're not at full speed). Once we dock at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) on top of Marquam Hill, we'll have climbed over 500 feet. It's a lot of large numbers to digest.

And the tram is actually bigger than all of that. It's not just a pricey—$55 million, at last count—way to get from point A to point B. The tram is symbolic of Portland's future—a potential inspiration, one that could lead to bigger and bolder architecture, citizens more comfortable with urban growth, and a figurative spot on the map for Portland as a city. And it's got the best view, as a bonus. At night, Scarbrough told me, it's magical.

In Portland, plans for any building over 20 stories causes a stir—witness the controversy over the proposed Allegro condos in Goose Hollow, the Ladd Tower planned for the South Park Blocks, the condos surrounding the lower tram station, and the recently announced Tom Moyer building slated to displace the Virginia Café. (Hell, mention the bustling, thriving Pearl District, and plenty of Portlanders still groan with dismay.) Standard urban changes, like infill, increased density, or new parking meters—things happening to mitigate Portland's growth—are often met by opposition from neighbors. It's enough to make Portland feel like a backwater town, where the locals resent newcomers, and anything that's happened since Bud Clark was mayor is blamed on those crazy urban planners and Californians.

The tram wasn't able to escape controversy, either. When the budget zoomed from $15 to $55 million (the city's share leapt from $5 to $8.5 million in PDC funds, with OHSU and private developers picking up the rest), there was the predictable outcry. Neighbors in the path of the tram jumped on the anti-tram wagon too, complaining that riders would stare down into their yards all day (and catch people sunbathing, no doubt). Even people who travel I-5—the tram crosses the freeway—came up with a reason to moan: Drivers gawking at the tram will cause traffic jams.

From the tram, however—as it silently drifts back and forth, from the river to the top of the city—all of those issues seem small. The city hasn't ground to a halt because $8.5 million was diverted to the tram, and frosted glass on the bottom half of the tram car windows direct your gaze out over the city (indeed, even without the glazing, the panoramic view is far more interesting than Lair Hill backyards). And traffic along I-5? It flows along as usual.

At the top, where the tram meets the ninth floor of OHSU, it's hard to imagine there are many higher spots in the city. I can see over Big Pink and the Wells Fargo Center, the city's tallest buildings. The Fremont Bridge—not to mention the Marquam, Hawthorne, Burnside, and other bridges—is diminutive. I have trouble finding the convention center's spires. Mt. Tabor looks like a rolling hill. I'm pretty sure I can see Gresham from here.

This is where the inspiration kicks in. From up here, downtown's towers look small. Portland's architecture is all but invisible—little rises to the top, literally. I imagine a downtown Portland—and an Inner Southeast, a Lloyd District, an Alberta, Mississippi, 82nd, and Interstate—10 or 15 years from now, skylines changed by taller buildings, perhaps drafted by architects who make it to the top of the tram and see what's missing.

I envision a Portland where neighbors don't automatically launch letter-writing campaigns against mixed-use buildings, because they too have glided to the top of the hill, and now see the obvious—that a six-story building ain't no thing. I hope for a Portland where curmudgeonly old-timers—those who think the city reached its peak in 1972, when the Wells Fargo Center opened—sit back to listen to the newcomers, who have grand plans and big ideas for this place. And those big ideas, they realize, won't ruin the city.

Pearce, and the city officials who had a hand in building this tram, get it.

"It's incredibly futuristic and inventive," he says, standing on an OHSU balcony that skims the tram platform, where we can watch the cars come and go, the river glinting hundreds of feet below, beyond ripples of evergreens. They wanted to "build a very special tram. A world-class tram," he says. "Portland's architecture could use a little jolt at times."

Portland could also use a landmark, something that gives us a spot on the map. No one ever says, "Oh, you're from Portland? Don't you just love the Portlandia Statue?" the way they fondly recall cities with, well, an actual symbolic anchor. New York has the Statue of Liberty. Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign. Seattle got a Space Needle in the '60s. An arch rose over St. Louis in 1935. Around the world, there's the London eye. Everyone knows Paris' Eiffel Tower.

While none of these necessarily add a tangible value to their city—the Hollywood sign certainly didn't launch the movie industry, and Seattle probably would have boomed in the '90s, Space Needle or not—they mark their homes, and stake them out as cities. But landmarks do more than make a nice frame for a postcard. They serve as reminders that a city has dreams, a vision for the future, and a willingness to occasionally go out on a limb.

As I drove up I-5 from Salem a few weeks ago—returning to the city on a Monday evening after a holiday with my family—I rounded the last of the Terwilliger curves. Usually, I crane for my first peek of downtown—my signal that I'm home, back in my comfortably unfamiliar urban zone, where I don't always know what's going to happen next.

This time, the tram's tower came into view. That's when I knew I was home.

Jan 25, 2007, 10:55 PM
great pics

why is the tower crane still up?

i definitely think this will be a big tourist attraction, ESPECIALLY if something touristy were placed on top.
anyone have ideas for things that could be placed or built at the upper station for visitors to do?

Jan 26, 2007, 2:33 AM
The full Portland Aerial Tram wesbite is up:

Jan 26, 2007, 9:58 AM
why is the tower crane still up?

They're still working on the skin and the finishing touches of the upper station, aesthetic stuff that won't affect the operation of the tram.

anyone have ideas for things that could be placed or built at the upper station for visitors to do?

A restaurant with terrace seating, a gift shop (that sells digital cameras), a toboggan run that crosses over Terwilliger and Barbur, down the middle of Gibbs, then over the new I-5 pedestrian bridge.... the GibbsNIMBYs will love that.

Jan 28, 2007, 10:44 AM
In tram, city seizes chance to shape region

Portland's prosperity has been built by city leaders thinking outside the road grid and leveraging public investments
Oregonian, Sunday, January 28, 2007

"The way is certainly both short and steep . . . Look if you like, but you will have to leap." -- W.H. Auden

In the 1950s, Portland was a pushover. It made the same mistakes every city made, letting freeways divide and conquer.

The automobile drove development, even to the point of razing a European-style chateau, the Portland Hotel, for a parking garage. Suburbia lured jobs and residents.

In the 1970s, however, Portland pushed back. Leaders recognized that transportation improvements weren't just a way to get from Point A to Point B, but a city's best way to attract investments in the city's core. The aerial tram, which opens Monday, is the direct result of this successful strategy.

As Portlanders leap the 3,300 feet from the South Waterfront to Oregon Health & Science University during free rides this weekend, they're going to get it. It's just a three-minute jump. But that's long enough to see why, thanks to the tram, OHSU agreed to expand along a rusted-out industrial area on North Macadam instead of in Hillsboro. The tram made the connection quick and irresistible.

The tram symbolizes the best and worst of Portland, though. What's best: the city's willingness to think outside the road grid. What's worst: the city's lack of oversight. This failure helped raise the tram's price to more than triple the original estimate. Operating costs will be higher than expected, too. As a result, the public fare will be $4, or double what was promised. Still, OHSU is paying 85 percent of the operating costs, just as OHSU and private developers paid the bulk of the $57 million to build the tram.

The city's share of construction costs: $8.5 million. With a public contribution of $126 million, much of it in urban renewal funds, and invested in roadways, parks and housing over about eight years, this community has leveraged a $2 billion redevelopment of the South Waterfront. It is expected to give rise to 10,000 jobs and attract 5,000 residents.

Like the transit mall, the light-rail system and the streetcar before it, the tram will burnish the city's reputation for innovation and renovation. That's been Portland's trademark, perhaps in response to urban planner Lewis Mumford. In 1938, he asked the City Club: "Are you good enough to have this country in your possession? Have you got enough intelligence, imagination and cooperation . . . to make the best of (your) opportunities?"

On a dark morning last December, shortly before a convoy of reporters was scheduled to ride the tram, OHSU emeritus President Peter Kohler slipped on for his first ride, pronouncing it "terrific." Last week, former Mayor Vera Katz took her first ride, calling it "exhilarating." No surprise that these two would be impressed; they had the vision to build the tram.

Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes, though, whose town ostensibly lost out to Portland, looks forward to riding it, too. He urged Portland to build it, as well, and he looks forward to showing it off, much as he loves to show off the downtown to high-tech prospects. "If Portland wasn't the dynamic, exciting city that it is, we wouldn't be able to attract the industries that we have," Hughes says.

Sure, there were setbacks and disappointments along the way, but the tram has strengthened downtown, OHSU and the entire region. If leaping has its perils, Portland's success shows failure to leap is even more perilous. It squanders opportunities. Development still happens, but not where you want it to go.

Portland's leaders, we hope, will always make the connection in under 3 minutes, just like a tram ride: Leading is leaping.

Jan 28, 2007, 5:48 PM

Jan 28, 2007, 6:18 PM

This picture belongs at the top of the page....

Jan 28, 2007, 6:52 PM
I watched some of the tram trips yesterday from afar and wow, thats the fastest i've seen the tram cars go. They were going at a pretty fast clip

Jan 28, 2007, 10:33 PM
did anyone go?

Jan 29, 2007, 12:35 AM
hopefully we'll get some pictures from some another people beside me but here goes.








i like this reflection it looks like god is looking over the city

the cars are so reflective










so reflective







and i'll close with some more reflection

Jan 29, 2007, 1:25 AM
great photos dougall

how crowded was it?

der Reisender
Jan 29, 2007, 1:28 AM
love em. i was busy all this weekend but expect to be making a number of trips up/down in february on it...excited to do so

Jan 29, 2007, 1:43 AM
I didn't count how many but I would say it was near capacity around 60 people each way. the ride was amazing and the sway at the intermediate was the only bump the whole way, and that wasn't that bad. although i was hoping for a better view for the upper station. but you can't argue with a 4 mountain view. You are able to see mount rainier from up there

Jan 29, 2007, 1:54 AM
Great pics dougall-as always...i think i'll go up during the week and avoid the crowds--4 bucks isn't bad at all for that view. What i'm beginning to discover is how much better the north south view/skyline is compared to the east west view/skyline. It makes the city look so much more dense...

Jan 29, 2007, 2:44 AM
remember its free on saturdays in feburary

Jan 29, 2007, 3:01 AM
I went today and it was litterally breathtaking. I could not believe how amazing the view was. Luckily I was right next to the door so I didn't have people's heads in front of me. We were pretty packed in. I was surprised at how big the sway was when you go over the tower. I wasn't prepared for that and almost lost my balance on the way up! Overall, a very smooth ride. Whatever the price tag, I think we are lucky to have something like this in Portland. I'm definitely dragging every person I know onto the tram this next month so I can go on it again!

Jan 29, 2007, 3:04 AM
My tram day photo contribution. Went up Sat mid-day.
Geat shots as always Dougall. I think my favorite is the silhouettes in the upper station walkway.




^^^local architects emerged from their cubicles... somewhat confused


^^^off to the slopes... uh, wait...



^^^Couldn't resist the reflection either...


Jan 29, 2007, 3:49 AM
looks great

is it set up to be a tourist attraction? like can a bunch of people just going to look at the view not feel like they are getting in the way of people who need to use it?

Jan 29, 2007, 4:05 AM
^^^ Sort of. There are outside viewing decks up top, as you can probably tell. Inside feels a bit strange, I mean you walk into a hospital. Some sort of intermediary space devoted to letting people hang out inside (where it's warm/cool) and eat or something --and not feel like they're sitting in a hospital-- would be good, especially for keeping the tourists coming back.

Jan 29, 2007, 4:20 AM
Great idea...

This urban loop fits trail activist to a T
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Fred Leeson

Don Baack never liked the idea of an aerial tram. But now that it's here, the tireless volunteer-citizen force behind Southwest's expanding urban-trail network wants to make the tram part of a trail.

He envisions the tram as one T in what he calls the "4T" trail that would be unlike any other in the world -- or at least in the 50 nations Baack has visited and hiked.

The 4T stands for trolley, tram, trail and train. They add up to a 7.25-mile loop that starts and ends downtown. Hikers would walk or jog for half that, or 3.67 miles.

The loop would take visitors on three transportation modes not found in most cities. It also would give them impressive city views from the top of Council Crest.

"Tourist promoters need to understand that there are people who really want to do something," Baack says. "They don't just come to town to look around."

Baack envisions this loop:

Board the Portland Streetcar (trolley) at Southwest 11th Avenue and Taylor Street. Ride it to the Southwest Gibbs Street stop near the west tram landing.

Ride the tram to the Oregon Health & Science University campus, exiting on Southwest Sam Jackson Park Road, which turns into upper Gibbs Street.

Walk west (uphill) on Gibbs to Marquam Hill Road, then to Fairmount Boulevard to Council Crest Park.

Leaving the park, take Southwest Talbot Road to Southwest Patton Road, which intersects with Urban Trail No. 7.

Follow Urban Trail No. 7 north to the Zoo MAX station, and ride MAX back to Southwest 10th and Yamhill. Voila . . . loop completed.

"The entire route is walkable today," Baack says. He'd like to see the city invest $10,000 to $50,000 in signs and interpretive information along the route.

To make it fully tourist-friendly, Baack says the city needs to add sidewalks on portions of Marquam Hill Road and Talbot. "There is already pressure to put sidewalks on these streets," he adds.

Given walking, waiting and sightseeing time, Baack estimates the trip would take about three hours. "Maybe two if you run it."

One hitch is the tram won't operate on Sundays. Baack hopes that changes.

"There are a lot of people in Portland on Sundays who would use the tram if it were running," he says. "For them to say they have to do maintenance one day a week is a cop-out. They can do maintenance on the swing shift. It's just harder to manage."

Baack thinks the 4T trail would qualify for guidebooks on great hikes of the nation or world. He's pushing his idea at City Hall.

"It's a matter of beating the drums to get something going," he says.

Fred Leeson: 503-294-5946; fredleeson@news.oregonian.com

Jan 29, 2007, 4:50 AM
nice tworivers this is definetly my fav
i tried to do something along the same lines but it didn't work out as well

Jan 29, 2007, 5:10 AM
i don't want to steal the thunder from tworivers but ill forget to do this if i don't do this now. i stole these from flickr


Adam Holloway's
the refection is trippy


Jami Dwyer's
good ol' voodoo donuts

Jan 29, 2007, 12:01 PM
NY Times Article - very positive:


City That Loves Mass Transit Looks to the Sky for More

Published: January 29, 2007
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 28 — The view from the new silver spheres strung across the sky here will not always be as stunning as it was on this sunbeam weekend: Mount Hood regal in the late light, Mount St. Helens a mystery in the distance, the downtown skyline sharp but self-effacing, smart enough to know its place amid mightier peaks.

Yet even if the opening of the city’s newest and most exotic form of public transportation — the $57 million Portland Aerial Tram — had been met with the more customary drizzle and drear of winter here, the ride would still have been a thrill.

“We’re running at full speed,” said Art Pearce, the project manager for the Portland Office of Transportation, as one of the tram’s two 78-passenger cabins neared the 197-foot tower that supports the 7,000-foot cable tugging the tram along at up to 22 miles per hour. “So there’s going to be a bit of a swing.”

Sure enough, as each cabin cleared the tower that helps lift it along its 3,300-foot route from the banks of the Willamette River up to the campus of the Oregon Health and Science University on top of Marquam Hill, it rocked forward, giving riders up front a sudden and strong sense of just how close they were to the traffic rushing below on Interstate 5.

“Whoa!” passengers whooped in unison each time. Then they laughed.

Portland, after all, loves to ride.

So enamored with public transportation is this city of 560,000 (the population of the metropolitan region is almost two million) that it is laced with electric streetcars, light rail and buses. TriMet, the regionwide system that unites most of the various modes, boasts that it has more riders than public transit systems in bigger cities like Seattle, Denver and Miami. It says ridership over the last decade has risen faster than both the population and the average number of miles people drive. More than one-fourth of afternoon commuters on some major routes out of Portland use light rail.

Still, some critics have called the tram a folly. As its construction budget soared from early projections of $15 million to nearly four times as much as that, disputes between the city and the university arose amid calls to rethink the whole idea. The fare announced last week — $4 round-trip unless riders are visiting the hospital, work there or have a transit pass — is more than twice initial estimates.

Some residents beneath the tram route are not pleased to have people floating past their back decks and bathroom windows. The tram cabins have few handholds, and at the open-air waiting platform on Marquam Hill, only modest barriers protect passengers from foul weather and a steep drop. Mr. Pearce said such concerns would be addressed.

For all the fuss, however, the tram is accompanied by no shortage of optimism. Some say it will give eminently livable Portland an aesthetic exclamation point it lacks, something like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Space Needle in Seattle.

More tangibly, the tram is supposed to help develop former industrial land along the Willamette long hemmed in by highways. It is meant to be a critical link between the university and the South Waterfront, now home to condominium projects and the university’s Center for Health and Healing.

The tram makes the trip from the main university campus in less than 5 minutes, while driving can take 15 minutes or longer. Though the tram opened to the public this weekend, doctors and hospital staff members have been using it since late last year to travel between the main campus on the hill and clinics and a gym at the waterfront, where the university hopes one day to move its medical schools.

The city managed the construction and owns the tram, but the university is paying all but $8.5 million of the building costs and is contracting with the manufacturer, the Swiss firm Dopplemayr, to operate it. Dopplemayr hired cabin attendants after posting the jobs last fall on Monster.com.

The only other “commuter tram” in this country, officials here say, is the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City, the one that got stuck last April and required a daring rescue by firefighters. Portland tram officials say they have multiple backup motors to avoid such a fate.

Small plaques in each cabin note that one is named Walt, for Walt Reynolds, the first African-American to graduate from medical school at the university. The other is named Jean, for Jean Richardson, the first woman to earn a civil engineering degree in Oregon. Both are now in their 80s and rode the tram for the first time last week. The alternative newspaper Willamette Week, dutifully jaded, noted the political correctness of the choices, and suggested that the politician who pushed the idea should have gone instead with “Pan” and “Dering.”

But few riders seemed jaded this weekend.

Kaitlyn Ni Donovan, 37, and Jonathan Drews, 38, rode a scooter to the tram on Saturday. The couple, both musicians, stood at the front of one cabin as it descended, with snow-clad Mount Hood at sunset.

“It’s so futuristic for a city that’s so green,” Ms. Ni Donovan said. “I’d like it even more if it was 20 times slower and they served cocktails.”

Jan 29, 2007, 1:21 PM
The alternative newspaper Willamette Week, dutifully jaded, noted the political correctness of the choices, and suggested that the politician who pushed the idea should have gone instead with “Pan” and “Dering.”
or how about "tes" and "tickle"
sorry bad joke but thanks lville great article and welcome to out little community

Jan 29, 2007, 5:09 PM
I rode the tram, THREE TIMES, yesteday. I ended up missing my res on Saturday so I just showed up on Sunday. I gave them my name and there was actually a Mark reserved for 2 people at the time we showed up...I hope the real Mark that made that res didn't have a problem...

Anyway, the tram is friggin incredible. One of the most exciting things in Portland! The lines were long at times and short at other times so in between the peak times (like on the hour) you could turn around and ride it again. The top station freaked me the f out. Seriously, it is a great view, but when you hang your head over the edge, see the legs of the station flying in several directions below you, it gives you this intense vertigo feeling...well, at least me.

For those who rode, what did you think about the tower swing? Each time up and down that swing made my belly lurch.

Jan 29, 2007, 5:30 PM
2006 proves a watershed year for South Waterfront activity
Portland Business Journal - January 26, 2007
by Wendy Culverwell
Business Journal staff writer

Construction workers, real estate agents, architects and publicists got welcome company at the South Waterfront in 2006: After years of planning and construction, Portland's newest urban neighborhood welcomed permanent residents and workers as construction cranes gave way to moving vans at the first two buildings.

The Meriwether Condominiums, two towers with a total of 245 residential units, opened first. The spring opening brought the first permanent residents to what had been a noisy, muddy construction zone. The project cost $121 million to build and like the other buildings in the 38-acre South Waterfront neighborhood, was developed by a team led by Portland's prolific Gerding/Edlen Development Co. LLC.

Oregon Health & Science University's 400,000-square-foot Center for Health & Healing opened in late 2006. The 16-story building sits at the district's northern edge.

The center has eight levels of hospital space for medical practices, clinics and surgery. Three floors contain health and wellness center, including a four-lane lap pool, and four are dedicated to education and research, with laboratory space for OHSU's biomedical engineering program.

Three floors of parking and a level of retail space round out the building -- designed by GBD Architects Inc. to be among the greenest new buildings in the land. It is expected to receive one of the top environmental designations from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Hoffman Construction Co. was the contractor, Gerding/Edlen managed the project.

A green new building is one thing; a shiny new way to get around is another.

To most Portlanders who don't have a reason to visit South Waterfront on a regular basis, 2006 stands out for introducing a new mode of transportation to Portland's already impressive repertoire. We speak, of course, of the spanking new tram.

OHSU employees and soon, the public as well, can pop between the university's hilltop campus on Marquam Hill and the Portland waterfront via two shiny, pill-shaped carriages that travel along cables strung on poles.

The university, private developers and the city of Portland shared unequally in the $57 million construction cost. The fare to users remains undecided -- the city proposed a $4 round-trip fare to cover the cost to operate the system, but is now weighing the need to cover costs against public policy issues such as, does it want people to actually ride the tram.

Last but not least, the tram isn't the only locomotion in town. The Portland Streetcar added South Waterfront -- its sixth neighborhood -- to its circuit in October. The streetcar line extends to the tram station on the northern side of OHSU's new building. Eventually, it will loop south to the residential portions of the neighborhood.

Alas, South Waterfront is not part of TriMet's fareless zone in downtown, so a Streetcar ride will set riders back $1.70.

The year 2006 saw two other residential towers get started -- 3720 and Atwater Place both saw construction start. The 3720 will be a 20-story tower with 331 units. The $160 million project is set to open a year from August. Atwater Place too got started. It will have 212 units on 23 stories and has a construction cost of $140 million.

The John Ross, the 31-story elliptical tower with 342 units, got started in late 2005, but the $130 million condominium project saw a substantial amount of work completed in 2006. It should be ready to welcome residents this spring.

wculverwell@bizjournals.com | 503-219-3415


Jan 29, 2007, 5:48 PM
We rode at 2pm on Sunday. It was great, a little chilly, but a lot of fun. I thought the swing wasn't too bad on the way up. On the way down it seems a little scarier since the drop is so steep at that point. It was fun to tour OHSU too, never had a chance to walk around up there.

Jan 29, 2007, 5:58 PM
By the way, someone on the hill told me yesterday that the entire ninth floor near the tram will be gutted and retrofitted with an upscale restaurant, shops, and an expanded plaza area.

Jan 29, 2007, 6:03 PM
3720=20 story?? I thought it was going to be in the 30-31 range..

Jan 29, 2007, 7:02 PM
I rode on Sunday around 4:00. Spectacular, hope the fantastic weather was a good omen. My only critique was that they need more handholds inside the cabin. When you go over the tower you want to be holding onto something. The swing on the down slope was definitely more dramatic since it came with the free fall sensation. The swing on the way up just felt like a swing.

Jan 29, 2007, 7:21 PM
-The 3720 will be a 20-story tower with 331 units

-Atwater Place will have 212 units on 23 stories

-The John Ross, the 31-story elliptical tower with 342 units

Journalism at it's best, unless it is extremely squat, it is a 30 story tower....

Jan 29, 2007, 7:32 PM
3720 would look awful if it were only 20 stories...the renderings make it look like 30 stories so lets hope this is just a journalism feaux-pax

Jan 29, 2007, 7:34 PM
↑Mark...that is good to hear about the 9th floor....It also could prove to be a huge PR spot for OHSU..

↑edge...I think I read that there will be more handholds, etc. installed.

I need to spend a day at the VA so I am looking forward to riding the tram...

Jan 29, 2007, 7:35 PM
^it is

Jan 29, 2007, 11:06 PM
“It’s so futuristic for a city that’s so green,” Ms. Ni Donovan said. “I’d like it even more if it was 20 times slower and they served cocktails.”

This is an interesting idea, it seems it was intended as a joke but why not on Sundays and especially Saturday nights when it is otherwise closed run the tram as a upscale skybar with cocktails and with the tram cars running much slower than normal (maybe 20 minutes one way). And going slowly it would be more relaxing, one could enjoy the view more and the bump wouldn't be a problem. It would make a ton of money as they could charge a higher fare on top of the price of drinks. They would just need a small movable bar (with lockable wheels), some tables, a bartender and a musician.

I can't wait to ride it.

Jan 29, 2007, 11:15 PM
yeah isnt 3720 in that second row back from the river so it would be in the 325 ft height limit? the riverfront blocks i believe are in the 20 story range.

Jan 29, 2007, 11:28 PM
that's a pretty good idea

Jan 29, 2007, 11:54 PM
The 3720 will be exactly the same height as the John Ross, 325'.
Reporters are frequently wrong, nothing new there.

Jan 30, 2007, 12:04 AM
That's an excellent idea!! Think of how many weddings and special events could be booked in the evenings and/or Sundays. That could help cover a lot of the operational expenses.

Jan 30, 2007, 12:15 AM

Jan 30, 2007, 2:00 AM
By the way, someone on the hill told me yesterday that the entire ninth floor near the tram will be gutted and retrofitted with an upscale restaurant, shops, and an expanded plaza area.

That's great news for sure. Reliable source? Any timeline? Seems unthinkable that they would gut a floor so soon after finishing the building. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention to the permanence of the interior when I was in there, though.

Jan 30, 2007, 3:47 AM
a couple of pictures from my ride.



Jan 30, 2007, 4:07 PM
That's great news for sure. Reliable source? Any timeline? Seems unthinkable that they would gut a floor so soon after finishing the building. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention to the permanence of the interior when I was in there, though.

From what I can tell the Kohler Pavilion is actually quite thin. The newly built area already has a plaza and an atrium on the ninth floor when you get off the tram, but the older portion passes a waiting area and enters a long dark hallway with lots of doors. The OHSU ladies in that area told me that in the next few months the entire area right there was going to be gutted and rebuilt with connecting views of both the tram landing in the new Kohler Pavilion atrium to the skybridge view from the shops with a restaurant, presumably, in the middle and able to see both. It sounded interesting but they couldn't direct me to any renderings of floor plans...I'll try and dig around the OHSU website later today.

Jan 30, 2007, 4:56 PM
^^^ Wow. Thanks for researching that.

Jan 30, 2007, 5:04 PM
isn't there someone here that works on OHSU projects, crow or someone? I am curious to find out the specifics as to what OHSU has planned. IMO, the only weak part of the tram was lack of activities at the upper station.

Feb 1, 2007, 4:29 PM
A downside look up at their new neighbor
Thursday, February 01, 2007
By Spencer Heinz
The Oregonian

On the cozy street that fought the tram and lost, homeowner Mark Gould says he wishes riders would not wave as though sailing over a circus.

"I have to say," he says, "it's odd."

This is part of life below the tram on Southwest Gibbs Street, the staging grounds for the former "NO TRAM" opposition.

After years of tilting against City Hall and Oregon Health & Science University, a crystalline kingdom of glass and steel that hews brightly to the hillside, the anti-tram forces watched as the tram became real. The 3,300-foot route sails over the neighborhood from the hospital to its new cousin on the waterfront.

Under the tram, attitudes range from those who say the two cars are better-looking and quieter than they expected, to those who despise the device because they say the city and campus pushed it on them. Some say tram riders, contrary to promoters' promises, can see into their houses.

"My privacy still feels invaded," says Alice Sayre, a clothing designer who took a free introductory ride and got a surprise: a view of her studio through a skylight. Sayre, married to Gould, says being under the tram feels ominous.

"You're taking the garbage out," she says, "then here comes this thing that's half the size of a bus."

It's the same for Gayle Robertson, 39, a teacher in Salem who lives near the top of the tram route. During her introductory ride, she spotted her living room. On the plus side, Robertson says, the tram cars look smaller and sleeker than she had imagined; on the minus, she sees the tram as mainly for OHSU instead of for the public -- and as an inappropriate luxury.

"I think it's really distasteful for it to be built," Robertson says, "when schools are being closed below it and a war is being fought."

OHSU proposed the tram to link its campus with the Willamette riverfront over a hash of freeway lanes and boulevards. In the Homestead and Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill neighborhoods beneath the tram, attitudes sometimes vary depending on whether the speaker is a deeply rooted homeowner or a new tenant.

From her apartment's front porch, 20-year-old Molly Huggins says she loves seeing the tram and friends' reactions to it.

"People like freak out to it," Huggins says. "They don't expect anything, then they see: It's like a bus in the air."

The tram's two cars, passing every three minutes or so, are soundless from below but serve as conversation pieces.

"That's not a tram, that's a beer keg," proclaims Jim Wallace, 77, a retired teacher of teachers at Lewis & Clark College who lives in the neighborhood and takes a daily stroll. He wants to see the kegs adorned with lights, served by flight attendants and bookended by local breweries -- McMenamins and Widmer.

"That may say more about me," Wallace adds, "than it does about it."

Bill Speedie, 65, and Marilyn MacDonald, 61, own a home just off Gibbs Street and show relief that the tram isn't "a monster," as she puts it. And that it is not intrusive, though tram cars sometimes catch the sun and bounce it briefly through their living room.

Don Livingstone, an architect with an office under the tram, looks forward to its function: This summer, he plans to ride his bicycle from his hillside home to his work down on Gibbs, then coast to the riverfront for a tram ride home.

Meanwhile, the line has become a landmark for those who need directions. "Now we can say," Livingstone explains, " 'We're right under the tram.' "

Mail carrier Huong Ly says the tram looks "really cool. It makes the city more like people would want to come and visit it."

And Larry Beck, a Gibbs Street resident and a Portland lawyer who helped guide the "NO TRAM" resistance, says the tram cars are less imposing than he had feared.

"That being said," Beck says, "it irks me when I can look up and see the lines and people looking down at us." He doesn't expect to ever ride the tram, either: "It does not serve me in any way."

It has, though, provided lessons for him and his family.

"It's worth fighting that fight," Beck says. "You can band together with your neighbors toward a common goal. And you may win or you may not. But it's worth the fight."

Spencer Heinz: 503-221-8072; spencerheinz@news.oregonian.com

Feb 1, 2007, 4:30 PM
"don't wave to me, it's odd" what a loser. I wasn't able to see into the cabins from the ground, and why stare at the tram if you don't like it?

Feb 2, 2007, 12:22 AM
some more cool pictures i found on flickr this time i put the photographer's whole library as a link to give them more credit







and the west end

for some reason i can't post this guy's pics but they are very probably the best: http://flickr.com/photos/ioja/
this guys is good also but also doesn't work: http://flickr.com/photos/habibi/sets/72157594507423386/











im all for trees and everything but this could be a awesome view
portland's scar



if your looking for a fix of tram photos check this link out every once in a while: http://flickr.com/groups/tram/pool/
if your looking for portland in general check this: http://flickr.com/groups/pdx/pool/

Feb 2, 2007, 4:41 AM

This one looks like "War of the Worlds". Very cool.... :tup:

Feb 3, 2007, 6:16 PM
this could be cool
Shows of note
Friday, February 02, 2007
Portland aerial tram Well, everyone has an opinion about the city's new aerial tram: It cost too much. It represents bureaucratic incompetence. It symbolizes the future of Portland. It's just, well, a tram.

Still, you have to admit a tram is a pretty cool thing. Right now, the art gallery at the American Institute of Architects is exhibiting a comprehensive show that traces the tram's entire design process. AGPS Architecture, the tram's designing firm, is showing models, drawings, photographs and other artifacts that chart the tram's beginnings in 2003 through its completion in 2007. Of course, those four years included many amendments, changes and design detours. Now that the tram is open to the public, the AIA show is a perfect time to objectively assess the creation of Portland's latest cause celebre. American Institute of Architects/Portland, 315 S.W. Fourth Ave. (D.K. Row)

Feb 4, 2007, 10:48 PM
sorry had to post these, they look awesome
from flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/bnzaij/








Feb 5, 2007, 10:27 AM

Feb 5, 2007, 4:17 PM
how much ya gotta pay to ride in the cherry picker on top the cabin?

Feb 7, 2007, 3:19 PM
The Oregon Sports Authority Foundation’s Sportlandia dinner and sports auction, presented by Gerding Edlen Development, is scheduled for the evening of February 9, 2007 at South Waterfront’s OHSU Center for Health and Healing. The sold out event is the Northwest’s largest sports auction, featuring once-in-a-lifetime trips, sports memorabilia and much more. Proceeds provide underserved youth throughout Oregon with the chance to participate in a variety of sports activities.

OregonLive.com Sportlandia Contest
Enter the OregonLive.com Sportlandia contest to predict the winning bid of the Ted Williams autographed baseball and Fenway Park panorama — the contest winner receives Bill Walton’s autographed autobiography and a basketball autographed by Clyde Drexler!

Sportlandia Details
The Sportlandia reception begins on the main floor of the OHSU Center for Health and Healing at 6:00 p.m. The dinner and auction follow at 7:30 p.m. on the second floor. Recommended dress is business attire.

Directions to Sportlandia at the OHSU Center for Health and Healing

Partial List of Oral Auction Items
1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team Autographed Jersey
2007 NBA All-Star Game Trip
2008 Beijing Olympics Trip
Australian Open Tennis Trip
Rose Bowl Trip
French Open Tennis Trip
Hawaiian Vacation
LeBron James Autographed Jersey
Luxury Suite for Oregon-CAL Football
Mazatlan Vacation
Mickey Mantle Autographed Baseball
New York Yankees Trip
Notre Dame-USC College Football Trip
Reggie Bush Autographed Jersey
Ted Williams Autographed Baseball
Tiger Woods Authographed Photo
U.S. Open Tennis Trip
Wimbledon Trip

Feb 8, 2007, 9:59 PM
^I also heard the drainage systems in the South Waterfront's parking garages were complex to build. Even though Homer literally raised the earth, most of SoWa was covered in water in the '96 floods so they are required to build complex pumping systems in case of flooding.

i remember those floods. i am still surprised that they haven't invested in a seawall there or at least raised the gradient. no one talks about the floods. when it happens again there will be some very upset millionaires and a lot of damage.

Feb 8, 2007, 10:07 PM
^they wouldn't have gotten banks to finance the construction, the PDC to build roads, OHSU's tram, etc. etc. if they weren't sure they had taken care of the flooding problem for the most part. It would take an 100-year flood to now rise over the banks and into the district...since the last one was in '96, I guess the millionaires are good until at least 2096...just kidding...with global warming, who knows if we will even have a river in 2096.

The seawall idea was thrown out because look at what the seawall did to downtown's connection with the river. It's terrible for the creatures that live in the river, terrible for humans that should connect with the river, and makes the view from the east side a little less attractive with a WWII looking concrete barrier rising from the banks of the Willamette. In fact, there is a waterfront park renovation plan that will try and reconnect downtown to the river, but mostly through catwalks over the river and such.

From my understanding, at least from the people trying to sell me a place at the discovery center, SoWa doesn't have anything to worry about when it comes to flooding.

Feb 9, 2007, 12:33 AM
i remember those floods. i am still surprised that they haven't invested in a seawall there or at least raised the gradient. no one talks about the floods. when it happens again there will be some very upset millionaires and a lot of damage.

They did, they dumped tons of dirt down there to raise the ground level so it won't flood. Also, seawalls hurt salmon and the environment. They're going to leave it natural.

Feb 9, 2007, 3:11 AM
just in case your are a huge fan of the tram and are planning on getting married soon... http://www.z100portland.com/cc-common/globalcontestfinder.html?contest=65607

Feb 9, 2007, 3:21 AM
Donor gives $40 million to OHSU
An anonymous donor pledged $40 million to Oregon Health & Science University - the largest gift ever received by the state's only medical school, officials said today.

Dr. Joe Robertson, OHSU president, said the money will help finance construction of a new medical school building on the South Waterfront, the former industrial area now linked by tram to OHSU's main campus. OHSU recently opened an outpatient center on the waterfront and other developers are building multiple high-rises.

OHSU has only recieved two other eight-figure gifts in its 120-year history. In 1987, Tektronix Corp. co-founder Howard Vollum endowed a neuroscience institute with a $14 million gift. Gilbert and Thelma Schnitzer family and Schnitzer Investment Corp. in 2004 donated nearly 20 acres of South Waterfront property valued at $33.9 million to OHSU.

-- Joe Rojas-Burke

Feb 9, 2007, 12:19 PM
They did, they dumped tons of dirt down there to raise the ground level so it won't flood. Also, seawalls hurt salmon and the environment. They're going to leave it natural.

i definately knew that they wanted that portion to have a restored riverbank ecosystem but was curious if there was to be a height barrier between the development and riverbank in case of one of those freak floods. but you answered my questions. thanks. :)

Feb 9, 2007, 12:37 PM

The seawall .... "makes the view from the east side a little less attractive with a WWII looking concrete barrier rising from the banks of the Willamette".

I disagree, i like waterfront park and it's seawall as is. there are many places to aproach the river such as riverplace and the esplanade. i'm not advocating seawalls throughout the whole of downtown but the section on tom mccall waterfront park is nice and attractive for what it is. it's reminiscent of seawalls in other european cities such as london (not totally) and it has a historic and impressive quality as well as practical - the fleet has somewhere to park every spring and it protected downtown from flooding in 96.

there are many places on either side of the willamette as well as ross island that could benefit from riverbank restoration and some beautification but i think the seawall is cool.

Feb 13, 2007, 4:54 PM
Bojack must be creaming...it will never end!

Potter cites tram costs

Mayor Tom Potter surprised his staff Monday by saying he was going to investigate how the cost of the Portland Aerial Tram increased from $15 million to around $58 million.

Potter talked about the investigation during a morning appearance on KPOJ (620 AM) radio to discuss the city charter changes that were referred to the May ballot by the City Council last week.

One of the four measures would place all city agencies under the control of a single administrator appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

Asked what difference that would make, Potter cited the tram as an example of a project that lacked proper administrative oversight — and then talked about how he was investigating the cost overruns.

Contacted by the Portland Tribune, Potter press aide John Doussard said he was not aware of any investigation into the tram, although the council has talked about reviewing the history of the project in the past. “I would be surprised if we’re doing anything at this point,” Doussard said.

Feb 13, 2007, 5:19 PM
Bojack must be creaming...it will never end!

Potter cites tram costs

Mayor Tom Potter surprised his staff Monday by saying he was going to investigate how the cost of the Portland Aerial Tram increased from $15 million to around $58 million.

Potter talked about the investigation during a morning appearance on KPOJ (620 AM) radio to discuss the city charter changes that were referred to the May ballot by the City Council last week.

One of the four measures would place all city agencies under the control of a single administrator appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

Asked what difference that would make, Potter cited the tram as an example of a project that lacked proper administrative oversight — and then talked about how he was investigating the cost overruns.

Contacted by the Portland Tribune, Potter press aide John Doussard said he was not aware of any investigation into the tram, although the council has talked about reviewing the history of the project in the past. “I would be surprised if we’re doing anything at this point,” Doussard said.

Urbanpdx, if the post isn't yours, your supposed to put the Title/Author/Source at the top of the article with a link to the article somewhere in the post. That way those of us that don't care to read your antiplanner crap can just skip to the next post.

Double standard? :cheers:

Feb 13, 2007, 5:59 PM
☝ I think Mark supplied the source of the article at the bottom of his post...you will see the link there.

Feb 13, 2007, 7:42 PM
no, urbanpdx is correct. I copied and pasted from the neighborhoods section of the Trib and caught it on another post when I realized it didn't say Portland Tribune, but couldn't remember where I submitted the first post. I think in the best interest of transparency, the source should always be posted at the top of the article...

Feb 14, 2007, 12:14 AM

Feb 14, 2007, 6:55 AM
nitpickers. =\

Feb 14, 2007, 4:02 PM
☝ I think Mark supplied the source of the article at the bottom of his post...you will see the link there.

On the post that quote came from, I supplied the source with a link at the bottom too. Thanks for the admission Mark. Not trying to be a dick, just pointing out how it feels to be nit-picked.:whip:

Feb 14, 2007, 4:12 PM
^it's really not nit-picking...if everyone used decent judgement, considering the content of the forum, and didn't post anit-planner and I'maToole rants, it wouldn't be as necessary. But after I read a bullshit article and realized the source at the bottom of the post after I had wasted five minutes of my life, I think it is necessary to make sure that courtesy is extended so we can skip over things that really, IMO, have no business being posted here.

Feb 14, 2007, 4:22 PM
Since you take transit and post thousands of posts on numerous blogs/forums, I doubt that 1 minute (you must read very slowly if it took 5) was worth much.

The post, btw, was not a meaningless rant, it was on the topic of the Burnside/Couch couplet and introduced a couple of interesting points that sparked discussion here.

Feb 14, 2007, 4:30 PM
a couple of interesting points that sparked discussion here.

^yep it has...like the last six posts.

Feb 15, 2007, 8:35 AM
get your tram merchandise - tshirts, grand opening poster, hats


Feb 15, 2007, 5:07 PM
Can i get this locally, I don't want to pay 6 bucks for shipping.

Feb 15, 2007, 5:09 PM
I'm not sure if OHSU has a temporary store set up yet, but there will be a Tram souvenir/gift shop when OHSU's renovation project around the upper tram landing is completed.

Feb 16, 2007, 3:51 AM
Only $6.99, the only opening day tram cookie left in existence (that I know of.)
get it now!!! http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i173/vjoe_udo4/2007%20small/icon_razz.gif


Feb 16, 2007, 4:41 AM
Looks like a novelty condom.

Feb 16, 2007, 3:48 PM
I still have one! I ate one and it twas naaasty, so the other one is still on the counter at home.

Feb 16, 2007, 6:43 PM
Yeah, the frosting was pretty icky. We got our hope up when we saw it was Beaverton bakery, but yuk..

Feb 18, 2007, 11:00 PM
Designing for dollars with the aerial tram
Evaluating the cost vs. the value of the international design competition
Sunday, February 18, 2007
The aerial tram is just a few metal panels away from being 100 percent complete.

An exhibition by the tram's designer, Sarah Graham is now on view at the American Institute of Architects.

It's a good time to ask: Was the international design competition to design the tram a good idea?

As with all things aerial tram, opinions abound. So let's narrow the discussion to a couple of participants who had the most money and reputation on the line and two architects and an engineer, one inside the process, one out and one in between.

Full disclosure: I argued strenuously for a tram design competition in several articles during the early tram planning process. Barge builder Jay Zidell, the owner of 33 acres next door to where the tram now lands, liked the idea, anteing up $50,000 to get the contest going. The city, Oregon Health & Science University and developer Homer Williams followed suit.

Ultimately, Sarah Graham of the Swiss/American firm Angelil/Graham/Pfenninger/Scholl bested three finalists: UN Studio of the Netherlands, SHoP from New York and Guy Nordenson, one of the world's foremost engineers.

Graham captured the imagination of the jury and the public with her concept of "light infrastructure" -- minimalist structures and bubble-shaped cars -- and a wider set of connections between OHSU, the river and the long-abused neighborhood in between.

The rest, of course, is tortured history. The original $15.5 million budget -- based on a simple ski-lift-style tram anchored into Marquam Hill's basalt -- proved way too low for the actual engineering problem at hand: anchoring the tram's 1 million pounds of cars and cables on a freestanding 80-foot tower, a feat of engineering never before accomplished.

Add soaring steel prices for the towers, a falling dollar to pay the Swiss tram equipment manufacturer and a construction contract that left the city shouldering all the risk for cost overruns.

Presto, final cost: $57 million.
But how much of the final price was really the design?

Let's take the easy parts first.

An off-the-shelf tram car could have cost approximately $500,000. Graham's bubble-shaped car -- which required bringing metalsmiths out of retirement to hand-hammer the curves -- cost $1.4 million.

An off-the-shelf version of the 175-foot intermediate tower next to I-5 -- a so-called "lattice tower" like those for high-voltage power lines -- would have cost $720,000. Graham's sleek, steel-plate tower cost $8.5 million.

All that Graham added to the lower tower was the aluminum-mesh enclosure -- minimal cost at best.

Total design premium so far: about $8.68 million.

The upper station at OHSU is where the opinions about the value added vary -- wildly.

OHSU's Steve Stadum, who watched his institution's contribution climb from $10 million to more than $40 million, thinks tighter city contracts and a "design/build" process (in which the architect works for the contractor) could have built Graham's design for $35 million. Matt Brown, the city's original project manager who oversaw the earliest stages of the design, says the tram's overall cost could have been cut in half with all off-the-shelf systems by Swiss ski-lift company Doppelmayr.

"But with every vote, the City Council confirmed it wanted more than that," he says.

When the costs for the tower began soaring, the city hired Art Johnson of KPFF Consulting Engineers, a lead engineer on major Portland building projects for more than 30 years, to review the design. Graham's scheme featured one concrete elevator shaft plus four splayed, steel-plate columns. Johnson proposed the upper tower to sit atop two concrete pillars -- estimated savings $7 million.
But Graham drove a hard bargain, wanting payment for any redesign and, at times, even threatening to resign.

"The whole idea was that we were buying a designer, not a design," says Stadum of OHSU. "She was supposed to be flexible. She was not."

Graham's AIA exhibition testifies to that resolve.

Graham's original competition proposal would have built the towers out of high-tech steel-and-wood laminates. Brown and others working with Graham believe she held fast to that idea way too long. Graham counters that her interest throughout was to keep the promise of a minimalist tram.

The AIA show features dozens of models of potential tram structures Graham and her team studied. But the full sets of plans also on view show what happened after she and her team landed on their choice. From concept to full construction drawings to the final "value engineering" to cut every conceivable cost, little about the design changed -- because little could.

"This is the smallest, lightest structure we could possibly do," she says. "There isn't one more stick than there needed to be."

Greg Baldwin, a longtime Portland architect and urban designer who sat on the competition selection committee, thinks the competition gave the project a profile that kept it from getting "nickeled and dimed."

"I think the competition was a good idea, even more than I did in the beginning," he says. "Quality was achieved, which isn't easy in the current construction environment."

"It was exactly the kind of project for a competition," according to architect Don Stastny, who has run dozens design competitions, from the Disney Concert Hall to the American Embassy in Berlin to the current contest between Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava and others to design what is to be San Francisco's tallest building.

Stastny wanted to manage Portland's competition, but lost the job to a newcomer: Reed Kroloff, who had just left Architecture magazine. Stastny literally has to live with the result: The tram is visible out his Madison Tower condominium.

So was it worth it?

Stastny chortles at the similar problems with a local competition he ran back in 1981: Pioneer Courthouse Square. The original $4 million budget ballooned to nearly $8 million, he recalls.

"The cost issues always go away after a while," Stastny says. "A year from now, everybody will be trying to take credit."

Randy Gragg: 503-221-8575; randygragg@ news.oregonian.com

Feb 19, 2007, 2:46 AM
Aboslutley amazing... Portland is one hell of a city, can't wait to ride the tram when I go up there in April to visit my girlfriend.

Portland's transportation is leaps and bounds ahead in the NW...

What a model of a city, no wonder Spokane always has it's eyes on what Portland is doing..

Feb 19, 2007, 4:06 AM
"An off-the-shelf tram car could have cost approximately $500,000. Graham's bubble-shaped car -- which required bringing metalsmiths out of retirement to hand-hammer the curves -- cost $1.4 million."

This probably sounds like quibbling about petty details, but particularly when I read today that the tram cabins shell was hand hammered, it's kind of unsatisfing to have that beautiful shape disrupted by the boxy door frame. I mean after all, Chrysler and other car manufactures were able to make super sleek, nesting doors for their fabulously successful minivans. If they could do it, why couldn't the tram cabin fabricators?

The money spent for the streamlined intermediate tower was well worth it. Thank god that tough chick Graham stood her ground. I like the following statement referring to her

"Graham counters that her interest throughout was to keep the promise of a minimalist tram."

This is definitely one of the objectives that will firmly establish this project as a success into the future. Imagine if we'd had to look at an ugly lattice tower for who knows how long.

Feb 19, 2007, 8:54 PM
I'm pretty sure the rectangular door frame is needed as a bumper for docking.

Feb 19, 2007, 9:16 PM
I thought the rectangular frame was just for shipping purposes because it looked so out of place against the curved cabin. I was very disappointed to realize that the frame was staying. It really detracts from the otherwise very sleek cabins. Queen Sarah couldn't have come up with a better solution than that?... as much as she spent on everything else?

Feb 19, 2007, 10:19 PM
Perhaps it was value-engineered? You do sometimes run into situations where you must compromise in design, unfortunately. And the budget wasn't quite unlimited... =)

Feb 20, 2007, 6:37 AM
Maybe, but if you're going to bring "metalsmiths out of retirement to hand-hammer the curves", why would you stop at the doors?

Feb 20, 2007, 5:44 PM
I thought the rectangular frame was just for shipping purposes because it looked so out of place against the curved cabin. I was very disappointed to realize that the frame was staying. It really detracts from the otherwise very sleek cabins. Queen Sarah couldn't have come up with a better solution than that?... as much as she spent on everything else?

I also thought they would actually be blue-ish too. Thank God we didn't get the tram that was pictured in the Oregonian, it looked like Willy Wonka's flying elevator...absolutely horrible. Made me thankful we got the curved tram cars we got.

Feb 24, 2007, 5:25 PM
Seems to be one of the better video's out there for those who can't ride it just to get a sample of what it is like.

Feb 24, 2007, 11:08 PM
I finally road the tram this morning, it was very cool. Watching my buddy (who is afraid of heights) hold on to the pole frozen stiff like a statue made the ride even more enjoyable! Too bad the weather was so crappy I couldn't take any pics from up there. :(

Feb 24, 2007, 11:23 PM
I rode it today too.

And today (Saturday Feb 24) is the last day it's free.

Feb 27, 2007, 11:31 PM
very scary stuff here glad i didn't ride it today
Portland tram closes to riders for day after cars stall
Posted by Ryan Frank February 27, 2007 14:36PM
Categories: Breaking News
The Portland tram is temporarily closed to public riders today after a warning light flashed at 11:51 a.m. and left 29 people stuck in two stalled cabins for a few minutes.

The cars started moving 12 minutes later and delievered riders back on solid ground about 12:04 p.m. The tram has since been closed while crews make adjustments and wait for the wind to slow. The cabins stop automatically when the warning light flashes because it's a sign of problems with the haul rope that moves the cars back and forth from OHSU and the South Waterfront district. Winds also blew faster than 50 mph, the tram's limit, said Harry Lenhart, spokesman for Oregon Health & Science University.

Drivers on Interstate 5 may have spotted the cabins stalled in midair, but Lenhart says no one is inside except for maybe the work crews. No injuries were reported.

-- Ryan Frank

Feb 27, 2007, 11:43 PM
My boyfriend called me from I-5 today asking about it since my office is in Lair Hill. By the time I looked they were already docked on the ground and top. So it was because of the wind? The article made it sound like it could be something else too.

Feb 27, 2007, 11:57 PM
of course Jack Bog already has this posted on his blog as some sort of vindication of his opposition...

Feb 28, 2007, 12:49 AM
well its back up and running

Feb 28, 2007, 1:14 AM
So what's the fuss? The tram did what it was supposed to do in a high wind situation. This shows that the safety features are working, right?


Feb 28, 2007, 1:21 AM
the fuss is i would be as scared as my cat in the washing machine if i got stuck over I-5 with 50 mph winds blowing against the tram

Feb 28, 2007, 3:48 AM
Its no big deal, it was windy and the safety features did kick on and work. And jack bog? I'll just say this, if i had a lot of money he wouldn't be around for very long :hell:

Feb 28, 2007, 4:05 AM
Nothing is going to happen even in 75 mph winds; the cars are both aerodynamic and balanced - they hang from the cable way overhead the center of mass - making it virtually impossible that they would drop. Since Switzerland uses them extensively in the mountains over 10,000' - as do ski resorts all over the world - they're friggin' designed for this kind of environment!

Worse would be to in an open-air bridge over I-5 with 50 mph winds.

Mar 5, 2007, 3:17 PM
For crane operator, job's an adrenaline lift
"It's like playing a giant video game with the joysticks"
Monday, March 05, 2007
It took time, but J.J. Sisson eventually worked his way all the way up the ladder at Hoffman Construction Co. At present, that's a 325-foot daily climb to his perch operating the tallest tower crane at Portland's South Waterfront.

It's not for the fainthearted.

There's the daily climb -- rain, sleet or shine. Once he arrives at the office, he's alone, all day, in a noisy cab that can be frigidly cold or baking hot, depending on the season, and sways like a carnival ride in heavy weather.
"It can get scary," Sisson said. "When the wind gets up to 60, I want to be on the ground."

Usually, anything more than 35 mph gusts put Sisson into "weathervane mode," swinging with the wind. Even in the calmest conditions, it's exacting, high-stress work.

High-rise construction is crane dependent. Whether he's "flying" cement, rebar, girders or 6,000-pound wall panels, he has to be smooth and efficient. Hand-eye coordination is a prerequisite, though Sisson is often operating blind, relying on his deft touch at the controls and radioed instructions from the ground. When the schedule is tight, days can stretch from well before dawn until after dark.

"Once you get good at it, it's like playing a giant video game with the joysticks," Sisson said. But "when you got all these guys moving right under your hook, there's no room for mistakes."

Accidents do happen -- in November, a 210-foot tall construction crane toppled over in Bellevue -- so Sisson spends plenty of time inspecting his rig.

"I'm the one who has to ride it down," he said, "and I don't want to do that."

An Oklahoma native, Sisson worked as a roughneck on an oil rig in Oklahoma from the age of 16 before moving offshore at 21. When oil patch jobs dried up in the late '80s, he moved to a shipyard in Portland.

After jumping to Hoffman Construction in 1996, he started out on the ground level as a carpenter, then worked his way though a succession of jobs operating forklifts, elevators and boom trucks. After bugging his bosses, networking with the crane operators, and getting the necessary training and certification, he finally got his shot to operate the big rig.

His wife and friends sometimes think he's nuts. But he loves the work.

"I get bored easily," Sisson said. "I've always had intense jobs. I need something that's got adrenaline to it."

Ted Sickinger: 503-221-8505; tedsickinger@news.oregonian.com