The $2.85 billion, 11-mile SW Corridor light rail project is the shiny centerpiece of the $5 billion Metro money measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. It will in no way improve the pedestrian environment in SW Portland other than fill in a few gaps of the many "missing" miles of sidewalk on Barbur Boulevard. The pedestrian and bicycle facilities in some sections will feel like one is walking or riding in a "cattle chute" along a busy, noisy, smelly, four lane highway while breathing polluted air.
Furthermore, ODOT is planning to charge tolls on I-5 in the near future, yet SW Corridor planners haven't shared any analysis of the impact of tolling on local streets. When the Evergreen Bridge was tolled in Seattle, over 50% of the cars found other routes. The impact of I-5 tolling on Barbur will flood nearby inadequate streets with cars and trucks seeking to avoid tolls. With light rail trains running down the middle of Barbur Boulevard, it will be difficult for pedestrians to cross in many locations.
Blowing a once-in-a-generation opportunity, TriMet, Metro and the City of Portland have refused to include the long planned, City-approved, family-friendly Red Electric Trail in the SW Corridor Project. This walking and biking route would provide much-needed connections throughout SW Portland and would not run along the Barbur Boulevard alignment.
If this plan for a light rail line is approved by voters, construction begins in 2022. For at least the next five years, Barbur Boulevard will be even less pedestrian and bicyclist friendly than it is today.
Then there are the unanswered questions about getting light rail riders to the campuses of OHSU and PCC Sylvania. Don't look to the SW Corridor Steering Committee for answers. It hasn't met since December 2019 for some reason.
TriMet aggressively promotes the dubious estimate that each day 37,500 passengers would ride a light rail line between PSU and Bridgeport Village. Light rail planners lowered daily ridership estimates by thousands even BEFORE the pandemic decimated public transit numbers. Does anyone really think the number of people taking public transit will increase in the future? It could cost us billions to find out. But by then it would be too late.
Better TriMet bus service on Barbur is the obvious answer, but by hiking the payroll tax - the funding source of our region's bus system - it is unlikely the inadequate, abysmal bus service in our communities will be improved and the existing service may not be maintained without additional taxes.
Join me in voting no on this measure.
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