UPDATED 9.26 -
Don't remove traffic lanes from Barbur Boulevard.
That's the message from the men and women who represent Southwest Portland neighborhood associations to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. She sits on the steering committee which is considering proposals to take away one lane in each direction on Barbur to accommodate a potential light rail line.
TriMet needs to cut the proposed budget for the light rail project and is studying how much money would be saved by "skinnying" Barbur.
At the board meeting of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. Wednesday night, leaders from more than a dozen neighborhood associations voted unanimously to send a letter of opposition to Eudaly, who is also the Commissioner in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. There was no debate.
"The proposal to narrow SW Barbur Blvd. to one motor vehicle travel lane in each direction is a broken promise that will create serious motor vehicle congestion issues, both on SW Barbur and in our neighborhoods," the letter says.
The Southwest Corridor Project Steering Committee is supposed to vote on whether to remove lanes from Barbur Boulevard in late October or November. It will also be deciding if the proposed light rail line would go to Bridgeport Village in Washington County or only as far as downtown Tigard.
The project's proposed budget is at least $400 million more than the $2.375 billion TriMet believes it can raise to build the light rail line through Southwest Portland.
POSTED 9.23 -There's not much support among seven decision makers for the Southwest MAX light rail line project to end the line in Tigard rather than at Bridgeport Village in Washington County.
But there is a desire from some of them to hear Portland's answer to the question, "What about Barbur?"
A major decision on where Southwest MAX will go if it ever gets built — and the route it will take to get there — will be made by the Southwest Corridor Project Steering Committee next month.
The project is still years from a final decision on whether it will be built, but is nearly $400 million over a preliminary proposed budget of $2.375 billion. One way of cutting costs in this early stage would be to shorten the line. Another way would be by removing a traffic lane in each direction on major sections of Barbur Boulevard. That would eliminate the cost of widening Barbur to accommodate trains as well as the current two lanes of traffic in either direction.
At its meeting on Monday, Tigard Mayor Jason Snider was the only one of the six members of the Steering Committee who were present who spoke out for a shorter line that would only go as far as Tigard. He is one of four members of that committee who are elected representatives from Washington County. He proposed the shorter route so Barbur would maintain all its lanes. The other three members want the line to go all the way to Bridgeport Village.
City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, Portland's representative on the committee, was not present. Her representative, Chris Warner, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, was noncommittal on the length of the line.
Because running the light rail line the full 12 miles to Bridgeport would probably mean reducing traffic lanes on Barbur, Mayor Gary Schirado of Durham, a town of 1,500 people located between Tigard and Tualatin just west of Bridgeport, said, "Getting to Bridgeport is pivotal to the success of this project. I want to hear what PBOT's position is. It may not matter what Durham thinks but it does matter what Portland thinks."
Washington County Commissioner Roy Rogers replied to Warner, "It's your road (Barbur) and I don't have a clear message what you want to do with it.
"We need a signal and leadership and vision. What does Portland want? That's my ask of you."
Barbur Boulevard is currently under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Transportation but will be transferred to Portland when the project is completed and trains are running, according to Warner.
Warner told the Steering Committee that the possibility of removing lanes on Barbur as a trade-off for going all the way to Bridgeport is, "Conceptually a different way of looking at this. I will be discussing it with the mayor in coming weeks."
He said he wanted more information on how reducing traffic lanes on Barbur would affect local neighborhoods and the impact on residents, businesses, bicyclists and pedestrians along Barbur.
After the meeting, Warner said, "Our hope is to expose them (Portland City Council members) to it because it's still really in the planning stages so we have not had the initial conversation with them about this. Commissioner Eudaly is the one who's going to begin the conversation. She'll be talking to them."
At this point, Warner said, there are no plans to bring the current Southwest Corridor Project issues to a City Council meeting before the Steering Committee decides what to do about Barbur Boulevard.
Neighborhood association representatives from Southwest Portland testified against the plan to "skinny" Barbur by taking out one traffic lane in each direction.
"This is a horrible idea which would have major impacts in my neighborhood," said Marianne Fitzgerald of the Crestwood neighborhood activist . She cited the amount of traffic that would divert off of a "skinnier" Barbur Boulevard onto local streets.
The steering committee will schedule a meeting in late October or early November to decide the budget and route questions and the ultimate plan for Barbur Boulevard should light rail trains ever travel on it.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.