The possibility of narrowing sections of Barbur Boulevard to single lanes as part of the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project appears to be a moot point, TriMet officials revealed Tuesday.
"These refinements to Barbur Boulevard included narrowing the project footprint by removing a lane of vehicle traffic in areas where it was feasible, and/or running the train adjacent to I-5 to avoid complex areas," Roberta Altstadt, TriMet media relations & communications manager, wrote in an email. "Barbur refinements did not prove to be feasible as the impacts were not acceptable to project leadership."
The narrowing or so-called "skinnying" of Barbur Boulevard was met with strong opposition by neighborhood groups along the route as well as the City of Tigard.
Meanwhile, it looks like TriMet staff supports a rail track that makes it all the way to Bridgeport Village.
Altstadt wrote that TriMet has worked over the last four months to fill an approximately $460 million funding gap, having now reduced that gap to less than $100 million.
"Project partners identified a number of possible reductions as well as opportunities to garner additional funding for the project, while still maintaining the project goal of reaching Bridgeport Village," Altstadt wrote.
Over the weekend, Tigard Mayor Jason Snider, Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik and Tualatin City Councilor Robert Kellogg issued a joint statement, saying each city was in favor of the other's goals. For Tigard, that meant not narrowing Barbur Boulevard; for Tualatin it meant going all the way to the transit center adjacent to the Bridgeport Village shopping complex.
"Both Tualatin and Tigard remain committed to seeing the Southwest Corridor project built to Bridgeport Transit Center," according to the joint statement. "Tualatin continues to oppose a project that ends short of Bridgeport. Tigard continues to oppose eliminating travel lanes on Barbur (Boulevard) and/or a terminus in downtown Tigard that is east of Hall (Boulevard)."
Both Snider and Kellogg sit on the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project Steering Committee, a group comprised of mayors, elected officials and others.
"Both Tualatin and Tigard remain committed to seeing the Southwest Corridor project built to Bridgeport Transit Center," according to the statement. "Tualatin continues to oppose a project that ends short of Bridgeport. Tigard continues to oppose eliminating travel lanes on Barbur (Boulevard) and/or a terminus in downtown Tigard that is east of Hall (Boulevard)."
The comments were made as a decision on where the 12-mile light rail route will end will be made by the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Steering Committee later next month.
In order to reduce the estimated light rail budget, TriMet trimmed approximately $129 million from the project by lessening property impacts at several locations, reducing the storm water treatment footprint and reducing track crossover that move trains from one set of tracks to another, Altstadt said.
In addition $240 million to $270 million in additional funding has been identified, coming from a jurisdictional transfer of $65 million in funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation to the City of Portland, an increase of $125 million in allotment from a proposed 2020 Metro transportation package which will be sent to voters next year. The overall measure would provide $975 million in funding for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project.
Meanwhile, the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project Steering Committee will meet Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tigard Public Library to discuss the new developments and hear from the public. Then, a final meeting by the committee to vote on the final preferred route is planned for Nov. 18 at Tigard City Hall. That meeting begins at 9 a.m.
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