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Staff recomendations show support for MAX from Portland to Tigard, but not to Portland Community College.

TRIMET - Staff working on a planned transit project from Portland to Tualatin say that light rail, not a rapid bus system, is the best option. Staff also say that building a tunnel from Barbur to PCC Sylvania is too expensive.A MAX light rail line is the best option for riders hoping to get from Portland to Tualatin, according to a new report released Monday.

Planners working on the Southwest Corridor Plan — a years-long project that includes building a high capacity transit line down Barbur Boulevard and into Tigard and Tualatin — released their recommendations on Monday.

The recommendations come a month before the Southwest Corridor Steering Committee, a group of mayors and government officials across the area, will vote on May 9 on whether the high capacity transit line will be a MAX light rail line or Eugene-style rapid bus system.

The committee was expected to make its decision on mode earlier this year, but pushed back its decision to allow planners more time.

Planners will formally present these recommendations to the steering committee on Wednesday, April 6.

What they found

FILE PHOTO - Tigard resident Art Crino protests a light rail project in Clackamas in 2010. Opponents passed a city charter ammendment in 2014 calling for a vote before any light rail line can be built through Tigard.According to the report, planners said MAX is better suited to tackle the increase in population over the next 20 years and would offer a faster ride for commuters.

“A light rail vehicle can carry 266 people per two-car train while (rapid bus vehicles) can carry about 86 people per bus,” the report reads. “Therefore, it would require far fewer light rail trips than BRT trips to meet rush hour demand. As a result, light rail could operate at about 7 minute frequencies to accommodate rush hour demand in 2035, while BRT would need to run every 3 minutes during rush hour.”

That recommendation, however, would have to pass muster with Tigard voters. Opponents of the light rail system voted in 2014 to change the city’s charter, requiring a public vote before any light rail line can be built through town.

That may not be too difficult. A recent study by Metro shows overwhelming support for MAX light rail, compared to a rapid bus line.

According to the poll, two-thirds of people polled supported light rail, with only 17 percent supporting a BRT.

Tunnel to PCC too expensive?

OREGON ZOO - Staff also say that a proposed MAX light rail tunnel from PCC Sylvania to Barbur Boulevard, similar to one built at the Oregon Zoo, would be far too expensive.The 18-page report details recommendations for another important question faced by the Steering Committee: If MAX is chosen, should the project include a multi-million dollar tunnel from Barbur Boulevard under Mount Sylvania to reach Portland Community College?

The community college’s Sylvania campus is the school’s largest, and PCC officials have argued for months that the school should have a stop along the transit line.

“PCC would love to keep direct access to campus on the table,” Linda Degman, the director of PCC’s bond program which oversees capital projects, told the Steering Committee last year. “That creates huge opportunities of growth for us, because we will keep growing.”

If approved, the Sylvania tunnel would be built near Southwest 53rd Avenue and would run underground to PCC’s campus. An underground station, similar to one at the Oregon Zoo, would transport passengers to the community college. The tunnel would then continue through Mount Sylvania, ending at a bridge that would carry the train across Interstate 5 into Tigard.

But planners working on the project have said that the tunnel could cost an estimated half-billion dollars and would force neighbors in the path of the tunnel out of their homes.

The tunnel would be so expensive, planners said, that choosing that option could impact funding to build the rest of the project.

“The capital cost of a tunnel option could substantially reduce funding available for station connectivity projects throughout the alignment, such as locally desired bike and pedestrian investments,” the report read.

The line would also likely have to stop well short of its expected terminus at Bridgeport Village.

“A tunnel option would likely result in a light rail terminus at the Tigard Transit Center due to the additional capital cost of the tunnel, resulting in no … service to Bridgeport Village and a significant drop in line ridership and cost effectiveness compared to a ‘no tunnel’ (light rail) alignment.”

Planners said they’d like to continue to explore alternative options for PCC Sylvania, such as a shuttle bus system to and from campus. A final recommendation would be given by August.

“Several viable options that would connect the Sylvania campus to the light rail line on Barbur/I-5 have been developed and analyzed,” the report read. “These options would not perform as well as a tunnel and on-campus station, but would improve convenience, system ridership and travel times for campus transit users over existing conditions at a much lower construction cost.”e convenience, system ridership and travel times for campus transit users over existing conditions at a much lower construction cost.”

Have your say!

Metro plans to organize small group discussions at the April 6 forum from 6 to 8 p.m. at Southwest Community Center, 6820 S.W. 45th Ave., in Portland.

Can’t make it? Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ask any specific questions regarding the selection of transit mode or transit access to PCC that you would like to be discussed at the April 6th event.

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor
The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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