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Service will connect Portland, Gresham; could start in 2020



Only a few decisions remain to be made about the exact route of the region’s first bus rapid transit line being proposed between Portland and Gresham.

“It’s encouraging that we continue to move forward to improve transit service to this high-ridership corridor that provides so many important connections to jobs, education and other community services,” says TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, a member of the steering committee appointed by Metro that is helping to shape the project.

The remaining decisions are critical to the project, however, and may not be made until the end of this year.

The Portland-Division Transit and Development Project being studied by Metro is intended to improve transit and shape development between the two cities. Work could begin in 2018 and service could start in 2020. The budget has yet to be determined.

The committee appointed by the elected regional government has already made a series of major decisions. They include choosing buses with at least some dedicated lanes over light rail as the transit option. The committee also has designated Southeast Powell Boulevard as the route to and from downtown Portland, and Southeast Division Street as the route to and from Gresham.

The committee made another major decision at its March 16 meeting — to run buses in and out of downtown Portland over the Tilikum Crossing bridge that is part of the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project. It was chosen over the Ross Island Bridge, which was the other option under consideration.

The remaining decisions require more study, however. Perhaps the most important is where to connect Powell and Division. The majority of the committee clearly supports using 82nd Avenue, which would run the buses past Portland Community College’s newest campus and the heart of the emerging Jade District. But because 82nd is already so busy, Metro also will study 50th and 52nd avenues as alternatives. PCC Southeast could still be reached from the intersection of 82nd and Division.

Another decision is the route buses will take between Powell and the transit center being built just east of OMSI, where they will access the Tilikum Crossing.

More complicated is the route from the Gresham Transit Center to Mt. Hood Community College, the eastern end of the proposed line. The committee wants it to serve several large employment centers along the way, including Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center and Gresham Vista Business Park, both of which are on Southeast Stark Street.

The committee will meet again June 1 to review the additional information that has been generated by then.

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