Apr 6, 2007

No Joke! Tram Proposed In Troutdale

After opening next week's city council agenda notebook, one agenda item popped out at me: MASS TRAM AMERICA. I did a double take. A tram proposal for Troutdale? Surely the date read April 1 and was a late April Fools day joke. But I looked at the date again. Nope. It's a real agenda item, for the April 10 meeting.

Next step: Google it. There it is. With a write-up in the most recent Willamette Week, no less. Step Two: I clicked on the web site for the project, the highwayinthesky.us.

I couldn't help myself. A snorting guffaw came out when my eyes fell on the artist's rendering (seen above). I know, I know. These people are apparently very serious about their proposal. And as an elected official, I should, with all decorum, show plenty of the proper seriousness and respect for any proposal that comes before us. So please accept my apologies for my lack of decorum, Mass Tram America.

In all seriousness, this is what Mass Tram America wants from the city of Troutdale:

"Troutdale and Mass Tram America agree to discuss and review designs for potential Prototype routes and partnership concepts that can help leverage the finance and development of a pollution-free transit system Prototype". etc etc.

Then we get to the money line in the last sentence of their proposal: "I look forward to working with the Mayor, Commissioners and Troutdale planning staff to create and fund an exciting solution to meet a range of urban livability challenges. Best Regards, Julie Mikalson, Progressive Strategies".

In other words, they have their hand out for some public money to finance their tram concept: recycled 737 aircraft fuselages powered by solar cells.

Troutdale's a small town. Couldn't they start smaller, say, by recycling Sky King's twin-engine Cessna 310B?
(I always wanted to meet his niece, Penny. . .)


Anonymous said...

Or we can always convert Oil to a hard black toxic substance, cut down trees, flatten the land and poor said substance all over and let it harden. THen strip it and let people clog it up with molden steel and plastic which burns oil and releases toxics into the air. That really would be a hairbrained idea

Jim Karklock said...

What problem is this proposal trying to solve?

BTW please provide some basic data:

* what percentage of the energy comes from those solar panels and wind generators?
* What is the maximum wind speed that this can operate in?
* What is the tower spacing?
* What is the construction cost per mile?
* How many passengers per hour past a given point?
* What is the minimum turning radius?
* What is the max speed in the sharpest curve?
* What is the vehicle weight?

When is the meeting at which they will present this?

Julie M said...

JK: the first meeting was April 10 in a Work Session with the Council.

Mr. Canfield,

Thank you for your helpful and amusing contributions this week. Your design creativity and humor are appreciated!

Your idea for smaller scale passenger carriers are indeed possible, for local service, while larger vehicles will also soar by quietly overhead, in what some might call the fast lane.

It is true that I often speak too much in jargon - I laughed out loud at that comment, heard over the radio this evening! At the same time people have many questions, and technical apsects do matter.

I hope you hear the good news in the Oregon decision (in a past legislative session & launched Jan. '06 by ODOT) to encourage Public-Private Partnership to resolve public funding dilemmas for roads and transit. The Gas tax is just not going to deliver all the road improvements that communities have requested to meet Oregon's needs.

The crunch in road funding is described in part, here:


I think the OR Transportation Innovation Partnership is huge news - and not just for a few guys in the expensive road-or rail building community. It means more players can help design, fund and deliver multi-modal solutions to meet many challenges. That can possibly include goals held dear by the Troutdale residents. Your town is significant as a place to try to reduce future congrestion - because of location. As the Gateway to the Metro area, Mt Hood, and the Columbia River Scenic area, your Council will have to get creative and work hard to honor the widespread desire of voters to maintain a livable small community with a vibrant business climate, enjoyable river access, and livability. I want you to have it all.

Mass Tram Am Proponents hope to help leverage numerous kinds of investments, creative financing, and generate revenue...for a clean & quiet transit system that pays it's own way.

Due to higher wattage, Wind Towers do currently offer more leverage for GHG financing purposes...and Turbines come in different sizes.
Solar could bring a higher finance value in the future when people realize it produces best during peak demand hours, avoiding the need for more expensive dirty diesel backup generators. Sorry to be so darn wonky, but that is the climate in which we are doing biz.

Have you seen the following item - that I just found?


Peer review and design improvements are important factors in the launch of new technologies, and this perspective matters in that way, I think.

BTW, to clarify a couple items:

The proposal is not to place all of the initial 11 wind towers in Troutdale. That is a number for an *entire* proposed Route - to conservatively deliver GHG Offsets necessary for one particular source of Green-Tag based funding. That GHG-Sales Agreement does not use Tax money - it is a proposal between a handful of businesses and Mass Tram America, in a competitive process for NEW projects - facilitated by a non-profit organization.

As an alternative for Troutdale, our proposed transit route conversation can result in several large Solar installations at Troutdale sites, that can still help accomplish the complex financing goal.

It is interesting to learn that Troudale is currently working to establish a Solar turbine. That is wonderful news: evidence that technology keeps improving, and an indication that early challenges are being addressed by Engineers.

Collaborative design to create something Troutdale will really like, that can help get freight and passengers out of traffic tie-ups - is what we propose.

I am happy to listen, and try to answer questions. Together, I think we can get it right.

Your Blog is an interesting contribution, and fun reading.

Thanks again!

Julie M said...

sorry but I noticed a typo:

WIND Turbine - (not Solar...)
it should have read - in this comment...

It is interesting to learn that Troudale is currently working to establish a WIND Turbine.

Congrats! Technology keeps improving, and Troutdale's adoption of Wind Power shows that early challenges can be reasonably addressed.

Readers: this quality-of-Wind question is important because several Troutdale Commissioners have heard that unpredictable gusts make Wind power unworkable for Troutdale.

Just because some Wind and Solar investors have backed off particular deals in the past - does not tell the whole story.

Technology is evolving, and lower costs will be possible via new manufacturing - for both Wind and Solar equipment - in the USA.

Our system will balance downtimes Solar Panels produce best at times Wind is challenged (usually June-July). In most places, future Tram lines will be Grid connected - as a back-up for the Tram - and to contribute squeaky-clean MegaWatts to Consumers.

Andy Potter said...

What an IDIOTIC proposal.
A tram to further destroy