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The Scheduled OHSU tram should be equiped with a view blocker. This would spare OHSU naighbors their backyard pravacy while allowing Tram passengers to enjoy the rest of the scenic view.
I am boggled by Portland's controversy over the
scheduled OHSU Tram. The Tram should be built with an
approximately 2 foot wide opaque or transluscent view
blocker, which would protrude horizontally, outside
the Tram, from the bottom of the windows and/or doors.
This view blocker would prevent passengers on the
Tram from being able to see directly down into OHSU
neighbors' properties, even if they are looking down
through the top of the window. The design would leave
the rest of the Tram's view - the river, the west
slope, downtown and OHSU's hill - intact. The view
blocker could be very lightweight and automatically
retractable so that it would not interfere with the
Tram's movements or docking. If the blocker is made
of colorless transluscent plastic it would not cause
any additional shadowing of sunlight from the Tram.
Of course, knowing Portland's history, I don't expect
Portland's politicians, businesses and residents to
adopt such a simple solution. I know how much profit
can be made by exacerbating political and legal

John Robert Kennedy
Portland Resident

homepage: homepage: http://www.freespeechpdx.com
phone: phone: None
address: address: Homeless

yes 18.Mar.2005 14:30


That's such a great idea. I'll bet other people thought of it as well, but getting the self-absorbed powers that be to compromise one of the obviously greatest attractions of the tram is probably a tough sell. People aren't going to want to look out over any plastic screen sufficient to block invasive views upon residents below. Personally, I thought the walls of the tram cabins should have been completely opaque with the exception of viewing ports allowing no more than a 10 degree below horizontal view. sky panels would be o.k. too

good idea 18.Mar.2005 14:31


that is a good idea, except for one thing:

who's going to finance the blocker(s) so that the local
residents don't have to look at the tram?

View Blocker? 18.Mar.2005 14:31


How will they see my finger?

All I know is that dangling hunk of junk better have a bike rack on it!

Tram to Marlene 18.Mar.2005 15:00

John Robert Kennedy malthus1ast@yahoo.com

Thanks for your quick response,

I estimate that the cost of the view blocker should be miniscule - insignificant compared to the overall cost of the Tram project. As far as the Tram being an eyesore - just look away. I am no proponent of Trimet or OHSU and agree that Portland and it's businesses have come up with many bad ideas. Trams are good though. They are more efficient than trains and buses because they avoid lost energy from friction from contact with the ground and also move in a straight line (avoiding curves necessary to drive up a hill, for example). Trams also do not require any pavement. I think trams are a great option for the future. I'm certain the OHSU neighboorhood's privacy concerns can be accommodated by using view blockers on and around the Tram. The argument that the Tram will somehow blot out the sun in the OHSU neighboorhood is preposterous. The Tram's route is far enough above the ground that this will hardly be a problem. The Tram will cast less shade on OHSU neighboorhood houses than those houses cast on each other! Put it in perspective. How many acres of land is shaded by Portland's high rises? I would guess about a million times more than the tram will shade.
I hope the OHSU comes equiped with a bike rack as well. Then we'll have another hill to bomb!

Where's the vision? 18.Mar.2005 23:34


john robert...it occurs to me that you missed the drift of maureen's comment...she asks perhaps, who will remedy the eyesore that the tram represents to residents for whom the tram plops itself directly over their heads. Greed, money, and shortsightedness has permitted both the construction of this abomination over the terwilliger slopes and the accompanying complex of towers in the south waterfront district, that stand to seperate residents and visitors from the expansive views that have characterized the area for generations.

It is startling that residents of a city will so passively allow a relatively small, select group of people the authority to make such permanent, land altering decisions through the arbitrary design and construction of buildings and infrastructure. Do these projects reflect the taste and wishes of residents of the city? Of course not. The public's choice in these matters is not factored in, with the exception of those neighborhood's immediately concerned, who at considerable expense, sued to fight the tram.

In the matter of dramatic landscape altering development in a selected neighborhood, the public at large is not even accustomed to thinking about rights they perhaps should have in terms of input regarding such development, so the thought to do so probably doesn't in most cases, even occur to them.

These are not developments on the scale, majesty, and justification of the redesign of Paris. They are petty, myopic development by people lacking much significant vision. For the Lair Hill, south waterfront, terwilliger slopes area, there were options to the designs approved. They would have cost more money, but the legacy they established would have been worthy of some respect, unlike the tram and the so-wa development.

An example of smart, visionary thinking, is 1st Presbyterian Church's design for the half lot at S.W. 12th and Morrison, upon which the soon to be demolished historic Danmoore Hotel sits. Though it is sad to lose the handsome Danmoore, 1st Pres will replace it with a street grade private/public garden, providing a refreshing introduction of sun and light into the city, with the additional bonus that the south side of the magnificent church structure will be revealed for the first time since 1912.

1st Pres has gone to additonal expense to place the parking underground. Developers don't want to do underground parking because of the extra expense, even though it's the logical answer to many problems. While the Danmoore represented badly needed low income SRO's, in recent years, 1st Pres has constructed new housing to replace that lost by the demolition of the Danmoore, and will be constructing more in the future.

please educate the ignorant 19.Mar.2005 07:49


I don't know much about the tram controversy and the alternatives proposed to it. But what I DO know from my personal experience is this: I have an elderly father who has to go to OHSU periodically, and it's extremely difficult to get to. There are only one or two access points up that hill, and at rush hour they are a miasma of smog and traffic jams. And I doubt it's logistically feasible to build more roads up the hill. So the tram seems like a pretty sensible option to me for making the city's largest medical facility accessible to the public, and certainly more environmentally friendly than the other options I can think of.

Personally, if I have to weigh the ability of my father to readily get to OHSU vs. the privacy concerns of the elite residents of the hill, guess which side I'm going to come down on? It's hard for me not to see this as a controversy between elitist narcissism vs. the greater public good, and nothing I've read has yet convinced me otherwise. But sure, give 'em these plastic baffles or whatever they are, if it shuts them up and solves their problem with the project. Again, maybe there's other alternatives I don't know about, or other reasons I should be opposed to this project. I'm all ears.

Get a clue 19.Mar.2005 09:14


what ohsu wants, ohsu gets. it's a public/private institution that can ban for life anyone who dares to demonstrate against it on "it's" property. hey, they chose to build on the hill so they could rule supreme. did they think about your father then? no. why should they. the city of portland is at their command. what kind of horrors do you think occur inside their primate center and on the hill? the pretty facade is just that--a coverup paid for with our dollars. they are just another institution riding high on power and profit.

those concerned with ohsu abuse of power should get with the animal rights folks and bring this institution under control of the people. let's see what goes on behind the closed doors and whether taxpayers wish to support it.

That's the Idea 19.Mar.2005 12:08

Doogie's Trouser

Re: "I have an elderly father who has to go to OHSU periodically, and it's extremely difficult to get to."

Considering some of the patient care horror stories that have eminated down from Pill-Hill, restricting access to it could be a tremendous boon to public health.

In some cases, your father might be better off seeking health care from a drunken squirrel with a switch-blade, than from some of the 'health-care' providers on the Hill. Additionally, squirrels will work for peanuts, and they operate out of countless locations throughout the city; many within walking distance.

the visionaries have left the area 19.Mar.2005 12:14


The writer, "ne1" presents a very realistic scenario. The very limited access routes to Markham Hill make it difficult and dangerous to get to the city's largest medical facility. There's only 3 access points: terwilliger from beaverton hillsdale to the south, terwilliger sam jackson to the north, and from fairmount blvd., that circumvents council crest. People in need of medical care require a faster, safer, easier to use means to ge to the hill.

What could engineers have presented as an alternative to the tram? Well,it seems like the city has become pretty good at constructing tunnels in recent years. There's the Max tunnel that climbs sylvan ridge, that includes an elevator allowing riders to go to the zoo. Rather than the tram, a tunnel/elevator combination could have been engineered for the medical complex, linking with the street car/max system that will inevitably network the entire city at some point. Worst case scenario, would have been that rather than tunnel the entire sub-horizontal section, access to an elevator point might have had to be constructed like a subway, disrupting many home/ businesses and roads during construction.
Would a train/elevator have better better in terms of speed/ efficiency/ and ease of use than a tram for people in need of medical attention? I think so. Certainly it would have cost much more money, and that was the over-riding factor for the ravenous investors standing on the starting line. That and the reality that it probably would have taken more time to construct. They were in such a big hurry to get this new development area going, so they could start making money.
A constant, in terms of new infrastructure, is that whatever is built, will likely exist for at least 50 years...probably much longer. That's the legacy we leave to those who follow us. Everybody will be sacrificing the presently beautiful setting in that part of town for a collection of multi-use towers and the incessantly visible tram.

Can anyone use the damn thing? 19.Mar.2005 14:43


re: ne1's comment: ...elderly father who has to go to OHSU...

Could anyone clarify whether or not the tram will be public
transportation? I believe the early draft OSHU plan was that the
tram was for employees/students of OSHU ONLY. Has that changed?

>>>>>> Will it be available for use by the the general public? <<<<<<

(I wont be riding it. Can you imagine being in that little box during
an earthquake or high wind gusts? I hope it has a toilet.)

Also, I laughed when OSHU stated that they would cover the $6M
cost overrun (so far), so the taxpayers wont have to worry.
Where does OSHU get it's operating revenue? Presumably they don't print
their own money. They get it from you and I, whether from Federal/State
grants, or from charging (overcharging) insurance companies and the

Damn Tram 19.Mar.2005 21:52


Maybe its time to call in the ELF for a little outside help.

tram view 13.Jun.2006 17:01

no ride for me

Nude sunbathers could give a protesting shock and the city cannot do anything about what happens on private property.