Commute of the Future

This Waterslide Is the Most Brilliantly Crazy Mass Transportation Idea You’ve Ever Seen

Portland design firm Industry reveals its blueprints for an intercity waterslide.

By Marty Patail September 21, 2016 Published in the Design Annual: Fall 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Stauffer’s plan calls for new 30-story “parking structures” for the two end stations, but Industry imagined it atop 42-story Big Pink. The ride between cities would last three minutes at top speed.

Image: Industry

One obscure but deep revelation from 2016’s primary elections: about 16,000 Oregon voters are extremely forward-thinking.

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The loading area on either end of the slides, where commuters would board “driverless skiffs” continuously leaving the station. These skiffs would keep riders’ clothes dry.

Image: Industry

That, at least, is how many people cast ballots for gubernatorial candidate Dave Stauffer, an inventor and environmental engineer. While Stauffer had little chance of defeating incumbent Kate Brown for the Democratic nomination, he did offer a striking solution to Portland’s traffic crisis: a system of waterslides descending from 30-story towers, connecting Vancouver, Washington to Portland. Instead of clogging up I-5, workers would shuttle between the cities via water-propelled skiffs at speeds of 122 mph. They wouldn’t even need bathing suits.

Stauffer’s full plan, detailed in a 27-page US patent application, includes some rough sketches and diagrams. While the cost of such a project definitely exceeds the scope of our new gas tax, we asked Robb Hunter and Oved Valadez of local design firm Industry to take Stauffer’s sketches and run with them. (Above, or check it out full-size here.) Hey, Kate, make it so!

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