Discussion on Southwest Corridor route through Tigard to Tualatin continues
TriMet officials will continue to look at several alternative routes planned for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail project through Tigard as well as determining the exact location of that project's terminus.
On Feb. 21, residents gathered again at Tigard Public Library to look at the alternatives and make suggestions for the route, which begins south of the Portland Transit Mall, travels through Tigard and ends up somewhere in the Bridgeport Village area.
"No decisions have been made," Jennifer Koozer, TriMet manager of community affairs, told a group of residents and business owners at the meeting, which had fewer attendees than a Jan. 21 meeting where the alternatives were revealed. "We're in the process of assembling data to see which of these options to pursue."
One of the alternative routes, known as the LPA or local preferred alternative, would include an elevated rail line in two locations along 72nd Avenue. That's necessary, say TriMet officials, because of traffic concerns and backups that are expected if light rail crosses Upper Boones Ferry Road at grade.
Meanwhile, another shorter and less expensive elevated rail route has been proposed. It would also be built over Boones Ferry Road via 74th Avenue, which parallels the current WES tracks. This would result in a larger station near the Bonita Road area, officials say.
Those elevated rails, likely constructed of steel or concrete, would allow parking underneath, TriMet officials have said.
The other issues being mulled are where the Southwest Corridor route should end.
Initial plans had proposed ending the route with a park and ride facility at the site of the current Tualatin Village Inn pancake house. However, the agency received hundreds of negative comments from the public objecting to tearing down the restaurant, which led to several alternative locations. Those layouts propose a Bridgeport station on the east side of 72nd Avenue as part of the LPA route. However, that would affect other businesses as well.
One of the questions raised by a property owner at the meeting involved how TriMet will go about acquiring the needed land? Koozer said there would be talk with property owners but no appraisals would even begin before 2021. She said while TriMet does use eminent domain to obtain property, it does not happen often. As an example, she said of the 200 land transactions needed to build the Orange Line, only one ended up in court.
A PacTrust Business Center representative at the meeting 74th Avenue route would negatively effect many businesses the company owns.
Koozer said cost would play a role in determining the best route but that the agency also takes the displacement of businesses "very seriously."
Another community meeting on the route is planned for Tigard before a decision on the final alignment is made by the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Steering Committee. While a final route decision had been planned for March, it now has been pushed to May.
A transportation bond to help pay for the Southwest Corridor and other transportation projects is expected in 2020. TriMet officials are expecting between a 40 to 50 percent federal funding match for the project.