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SW Corridor Plan committee rules Tualatin terminus too expensive.



TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - The Southwest Corridor Plan steering committee met Monday in Beaverton City Hall. The group voted unanimously to end a proposed high-capacity transit line from Portland to Tualatin at Bridgeport Village.In a unanimous vote, officials planning a new high capacity transit line from Portland to Tigard and Tualatin passed a major hurdle on Monday: Figuring out where the line will end.

On Monday, Jan. 11, steering committee members for the Southwest Corridor Plan, a years-long project aimed at bringing either a MAX light-rail line or rapid bus line to the area, approved a plan to end the future transit line at Bridgeport Village.

The project's steering committee — a group of city leaders, county commissioners and government agencies — said that extending the line into downtown Tualatin was too expensive.

“We’re not abandoning downtown Tualatin,” Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen told the crowd at Monday's meeting. “It just makes much more sense to terminate (the line) at Bridgeport.”

The line’s eventual terminus was all but decided months ago, after both Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden and Metro staff said that carrying the line all the way to downtown Tualatin would be too expensive.

Officials were supposed to make that decision in December, but pushed it back to January due to scheduling conflicts among committee members.

This is the second time that planners have shortened the length of the proposed transit line. When planners first considered building the Southwest Corridor, the line was expected to end in Sherwood. Those plans were dropped due to cost estimations.

Dirksen said that when the Sherwood route was cut, officials agreed to start a bus service from downtown Sherwood to the line’s terminus. Dirksen said he expects similar treatment for Tualatin residents hoping to reach Bridgeport Village.

Dave Unsworth, director of project development with TriMet, said that the new Line 97 line which will connect Sherwood to Tualatin for the first time, could be extended to connect riders to the Bridgeport station.

Tigard alignment, PCC tunnel still to be decided

Two big questions remain unanswered. Planners are expected to vote next month whether the line will be a MAX light rail or a rapid bus system, currently used in Eugene.

Bus rapid transit, or BRT, is cheaper to build, but carries fewer riders.

If light rail is chosen, officials have another big decision to make: Whether or not to build a tunnel connecting the MAX line from Barbur Boulevard to Portland Community College’s Sylvania campus. The tunnel is expensive, costing an estimated half-billion dollars, according to Metro planners, and would force neighbors in the path of the tunnel out of their homes.

The Steering Committee is expected to vote Feb. 29 on those plans.

Officials were expected to decide on the alignment for the Tigard portion of the line on Monday as well, but ultimately decided that three of the proposed routes — one stopping along Southwest Ash Avenue, another with branch service to downtown and a third that would require a ¾-mile-long bridge over much of the Tigard Trangle into downtown — needed further study.

Click here for maps of the proposed Tigard stations

“I have negatives about all three,” said Tigard Mayor John L. Cook about the propsed options. Two other line options, which looped around downtown Tigard, better served the downtown, but would have been difficult for MAX lines to use due to tight turns, planners said, and would not have served as many riders.

Those options better served downtown, which Cook said was an important part of the Southwest Corridor's mission.

“I’m OK with allowing further refinement (for the three remaining lines), but what I don’t want to see is downtown Tigard excluded," he said.

One of the proposed options, the so-called “Branch Service” option would have a stop near Southwest Hunziker Road. From there, riders would have to change to a new bus/train in order to reach downtown Tigard. Another, the Ash Avenue line would serve downtown directly, but could impact some homes along the route's path.

Cook said those options could be refined more over the coming months.

Downtown Tigard is an important spot for the city, which has worked for years to redevelop and revitalize the area. City officials have said that a station in downtown Tigard would be key to bringing more people and businesses to the area.

“Whatever the mode option is (chosen) in February, that mode needs to hit downtown Tigard,” Cook said. “If it’s (MAX) that's chosen, let’s not use (rapid bus service) as a connection to Tigard.”


By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor, The Times
503-546-0744
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