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Cost would be 'more than is feasible to fund,' mayor says



Southwest CorridorMetro's beleaguered Southwest Corridor project hit another curb Monday evening when Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden announced that his city’s financial projections do not support extension of the proposed transit line into downtown Tualatin.

At the end of a work session at the Juanita Pohl Center, Ogden said city officials reached the conclusion that downtown Tualatin will likely not receive a station as part of the corridor following recent conversations with TriMet staff. That decision is not yet final and it does not preclude a possible station at Bridgeport Village, a major shopping center shared between Tigard and Tualatin, the mayor noted.

The cost of bringing the proposed line into Tualatin's city center, whether it is MAX light rail or bus rapid transit, appears to be unrealistic, Ogden said.

“The analysis that's been done to date has all but completely determined that the least-cost opportunity to get light rail or (bus rapid transit) to a station in downtown Tualatin … would end up costing more than is feasible to fund,” he said.

The steering committee for the project is scheduled to make a final determination in December, Ogden said, but he suggested the city should not be studying a possible downtown station in the meantime if the money is not there to build it.

Ogden sits on the steering committee, in his capacity as Tualatin's mayor.

The Southwest Corridor, as proposed, would construct a new high-capacity line from southwest Portland into Tigard and possibly beyond. Early discussions included a possible extension as far as Sherwood, but that idea has since been dropped.

Ogden argued that riders coming to Tualatin from elsewhere in the Portland metropolitan area would generally not be traveling as far as the city center even if it had a stop.

“The terminus for commuters would have effectively been Bridgeport Village anyway,” he said.

Still, Ogden said, it is not yet clear that a Bridgeport Village station would be financially feasible either.

The Southwest Corridor has run into a number of obstacles since the early stages of planning began in 2011. Last year, voters in Tigard and Tualatin approved initiatives that would require an election to approve city funding for new high-capacity transit. There has also been substantial disagreement over whether to proceed with a MAX line or a more novel bus rapid transit route in planning for the corridor. The steering committee for the project decided last December to push back a federally mandated study for more than a year.

Even if downtown Tualatin doesn't get its own station, however, Ogden said the city could still benefit.

“Our opportunity is that TriMet is still committed to downtown Tualatin being part of the Southwest Corridor project,” he said.

That means Tualatin could still get additional bus service and road improvements if the Southwest Corridor moves forward.

The Tualatin City Council is slated to hold a work session on Sept. 14 at the Juanita Pohl Center to hear a more detailed update on the Southwest Corridor.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated when Tualatin voted to restrict city transit funding. The story has been updated.

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