There could be a funicular railway in Terwilliger Parkway's future
Here's where things stand with finding a way to move 5,000 people a day up to Marquam Hill from a station on Barbur Boulevard where light rail trains will stop if and when a Southwest MAX line becomes a reality.
An advisory panel of experts, which will recommend a method for moving all those people, is now leaning toward building an inclined elevator, which is also known as a funicular railway. Two subway-like cars, would alternately climb on tracks from a base on Barbur Boulevard at Gibbs Street next to the synagogue. The cars would stop at Terwilliger Boulevard and Campus Drive at the bottom of the last stretch of the hill to the hospitals and clinics.
Or they would keep going, under or over Terwilliger Boulevard, to get people up that last hill. That part of the funicular plan is still under study.
No final decision has been made, but one possibility — building a 350-foot long tunnel underground to an elevator — is no longer being considered.
Whatever is decided will be sent to the Steering Committee for the light rail project for action at its June 10 meeting. The Green Ribbon Committee will hold one more meeting on June 5 before making its recommendation.
Fred Miller, formerly CEO of PGE and director of the Portland Office of Management and Finance, heads the advisory group known as the Green Ribbon Committee.
"The inclined elevator is pretty much the leader as long as it can be wildlife-sensitive," he said after a meeting in May on the 11th floor of Doernbecher Childrens Hospital.
"Number two would be the bridge and elevator option. Number three is an aerial tram. The tunnel idea we decided not to pursue," Miller said.
The bridge and elevator option may appeal to members of the Steering Committee who will have the final say, inasmuch as you can have a final say on one aspect of an estimated $2.73 billion project that hasn't received the necessary voter approval or federal funding.
That bridge and elevator option is the least expensive of the three still being considered. The structures would resemble the bridge and elevator at the South Waterfront terminus of the Portland Aerial Tram. But the elevator would be taller and the bridge longer. Its estimated cost is between $15 and $25 million. The inclined elevator's estimated cost is between $35 and $45 million while a second aerial tram could cost between $50 million and $85 million.
Asked if his committee's decision will carry much weight, Miller said, "I suspect the Steering Committee will do what they want to do. We make the recommendation, they act. The real issue is probably dollars."
The current amount allocated for a method of connecting a Barbur Boulevard light rail station to Marquam Hill with its 21 different medical institutions is $13 million.
A more detailed project budget is expected by late summer or fall.
Voters may get a chance to have their say in November 2020 on whether a light rail line from downtown Portland to Bridgeport Village running along Barbur Boulevard should be financed with higher property taxes and increased vehicle fees. If voters approve the project, TriMet would still have to secure more than a billion dollars in financing from the Federal Transit Administration.
To see pictures of the various Marquam Hill Connector options visit https://trimet.org/swcorridor/
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