OPINION: Southwest Corridor plans do not meet our needs
The current version of the Southwest Corridor falls short of meeting the needs of our Southwest Portland community. Here are some of the significant shortfalls.
Connection to Marquam Hill
Current plans show either an inclined elevator or an elevator and bridge that will convey riders to Terwilliger Boulevard. From there, the riders, many of whom are not well, are going to have to either walk several hundred feet to Oregon Health & Science University or the Veteran's Administration Hospital or take a bus from the elevator complex exit, where there are no loading provisions. The schedule of that bus is not a part of the plan either. A better solution would be to provide a bus running from the light rail station near Burlingame Fred Meyer, which should be called Burlingame Station by the way, through Hillsdale, and then to a loop around the VA and OHSU on a route similar to the existing #8 bus. In this way, riders from the north would take the #8, and riders from the South a modified #39 line. That would mean only one transfer and one wait rather than two changes and two waits between rides. In addition, for those seeking to visit the South Waterfront OHSU facilities, a ride on the tram is available with minimum wait time. This route would eliminate the need to walk from the Gibbs Station to the South Waterfront over the Hooley Bridge. Providing an extended #39 means the area around the Burlingame Station and Hillsdale commercial area would become logical locations for satellite medical facilities easily connected with OHSU and the VA. Burlingame Station should be redesigned to plan for an easy bus connection to Marquam Hill.
Shuttle to PCC at SW 53rd
As with the connection to Marquam Hill, no planning has been done to design the bus connections for an easy, safe manner of accessing the shuttle buses going from the Southwest 53rd station to PCC. This needs to be a part of the project.
The Red Electric Trail
This multimodal trail is an approved Transportation System Plan project. Current SW Corridor plans totally ignore the long-planned Red Electric Trail, which could provide a safe, family-friendly connection from the Hooley Bridge to Hillsdale and beyond. Few of us would take our families on a bike route along the busy, noisy, polluted area adjacent to Barbur Blvd. if we had an alternative. The SW Corridor plan needs to include the connections from Slavin Road across the new bridge and the connection to the trail leading to Hillsdale on the east end of Hines Park.
Stormwater treatment facility near Southwest 13th
The current plan calls for a stormwater facility very near the station at Southwest 13th and Barbur. This is prime real estate for office or housing development and would be wasted as a stormwater facility that could be located anywhere along the Corridor that's distanced from station areas.
Bus routes to serve SW Corridor light rail
To date, TriMet has been silent on how the SW community would be served by buses to take advantage of the light rail facilities. We are being asked to approve and fund a very expensive piece of transportation infrastructure that will not directly serve any of our southwest destinations. We're expected to accept the idea that we should "be patient. We'll figure out the bus system when we get the train completed". We have been promised things in the past that have not happened. Tell us what we can expect in the way of bus service across Southwest (Portland) so we can then decide if we want to proceed with the project.
Station names need community input
TriMet's planners have selected Custer Station as the name of the station on Barbur Boulevard at Southwest 13th. An alternative name such as Burlingame Station might be a much better choice than honoring a disgraced Civil War and Indian War general. TriMet should consider Capitol Hill Station instead of 19th Avenue Station to bring local geography into the mix. The station at Southwest 53rd might be better named PCC Station. The plans for the SW Corridor should provide for the SW community to go through a process to name the stations.
Don Baack, founder of SWTrails, lives and walks in Hillsdale.
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