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The Skidmore Fountain Station will remain open but will be re-evaluated for closure in 2022

PMG PICTURE JONATHAN HOUSE - The Kings Hill/SW Salmon St Station will close for at least one year on March 1, 2020.

TriMet will close three downtown MAX stations on March 1, 2020 — two permanently and the other for a one-year test.

The closures are intended to speed up light rail travel though the heavily-congested downtown core, even though they will only save round-trip commuters about three minutes a day.

The regional transit agency's board of directors approved the closures at its Wednesday, July 24 meeting.

"At TriMet, we've weighed access, equity and convenience as we look to improve the speed and performance of our system. With more people coming to our region by the 100,000s in the coming decades, transit must be faster and more efficient in moving people where they need to go. Today's action is an important step toward that," TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey said after the vote.

The two to be be closed permanently are theMall/SW 4th Ave and Mall/SW 5th Ave stations. The Kings Hill/SW Salmon St Station will close for one year, after which time TriMet will re-evaluate if the closure should be permanent.

The board decided against closing a fourth station that had been proposed. The continued operation of the Skidmore Fountain Station will be re-evaluated in 2022 to determine if weekday ridership increases and proposed development in the area occurs. It is close to social service agencies and Saturday Market in the Old Town area.

According to TriMet, it takes MAX Blue and Red Line trains 22 minutes to travel the three miles between Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson St and Lloyd Center/NE 11th Ave stations. In the neighboring segments, it takes trains half that time to go five miles.

Closing the Kings Hill, Mall/SW 5th and Mall/SW 4th stations will cut that travel time by about 11 percent, or about 13 hours a year, TriMet says. Many are lower-income commuters who travel long distances between their homes and work.

Metro, the elected regional government in charge of transportation planning, has begun studying whether to build a subway tunnel under downtown Portland for MAX trains. The tunnel, which is estimated to cost $1 billion or more, would run from Goose Hollow to the Lloyd District. Metro may include planning funds for the project in the regional transportation measure it is developing for the November 2020 general election ballot.

You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue here.

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