SW light rail: It must come to Tualatin, say city officials
As the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Steering Committee prepares to make a final recommendation on a proposed alignment on Nov. 18, Tualatin officials are still holding tight to a vision that brings the rail line all the way into its city limits.
On Monday, members of the council reiterated their request to make sure that the 12-mile line won't end in Tigard but rather reach what is being called the Tualatin Transit Center, ending adjacent to the Bridgeport Village shopping complex.
Over the last several months, Tigard Mayor Jason Snider has made it clear to the steering committee that if not enough funding was found for the project, he'd be in favor of ending the line in Tigard instead of extending it the additional 3 ½ miles to Tualatin. That suggestion has not played well with Tualatin officials who want to ensure the line makes it all the way to a station in Tualatin. In addition, Tigard officials are not in favor of "narrowing" Barbur Boulevard in an effort to save money.
During Monday's Tualatin City Council meeting, Councilor Paul Morrison said while talks about whether to narrow Barbur Boulevard at several locations along the route continue, he is interested in what the City of Portland's position on that proposal is, something that hasn't been made clear, he said.
"I can make one claim, that I will not support light rail if it doesn't come to Bridgeport," said Morrison.
Meanwhile, Tualatin Councilor Robert Kellogg, who is a member of the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Steering Committee, said he is still hearing support from both TriMet and Washington County officials that the line will go all the way to the Bridgeport Transit Center, which would be located just off of Boones Ferry Road at Interstate 5.
"It is going to the Bridgeport Transit Center," Kellogg said, later expressing gratitude towards TriMet and Washington County for sticking with a push to get the rail line to Tualatin.
Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik, who was absent from Monday's meeting, has long supported light rail coming to the city as well.
At the same time, Kellogg said he'd like to see TriMet return to an earlier plan for an above-grade crossing on westbound Upper Boones Ferry Road to the approach to 72nd Avenue. The $50 million above-grade crossing (planned near the Burgerville restaurant) was taken off the table earlier in the process because of cost concerns in favor of an at-grade crossing. Kellogg said his concerns involve traffic congestion caused not only with the proposed TriMet crossing but another rail crossing just west of it.
Finally, Kellogg said he wants to make sure the right sized parking garage is built in the Bridgeport Village area. That garage would also serve as a major hub for a bus mall. Kellogg said the original plans were to 900 spaces available, a number that has since been reduced to 700 spaces.
"My thought is if you're going to build a regional transportation center, you need to build enough parking for (it)," Kellogg said Monday.
TriMet plans currently call for the Bridgeport Transit Center to be built on land currently occupied by a TriMet park and ride just off of Lower Boones Ferry Road at I-5. A proposal calls for an elevated pedestrian bridge to connect that transit center with the final light rail station on the Southwest Corridor Light Rail route on the other side of Lower Boones Ferry.
If all goes as planned, the Village Inn to the west of that last station as well as the Men's Warehouse and Bed, Baths and Beyond would be spared, Kellogg said.
Still, finding the needed funding for light rail continues to be a problem and a Metro 2020 transportation bond will be key.
"That's dependent on the transportation bond passing," Kellogg said about finding the funding. "And that's a big 'if'."
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