Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



TriMet open houses in February will show how light rail would change the look of the Southwest Corridor.

PMG FILE PHOTO - If it's built, SW MAX could start running in late 2027 if everything falls into place.The public soon will get a good look at some of the knowns and unknowns for the Portland area's potential sixth light rail line, the one that would run through Southwest Portland on Barbur Boulevard between downtown Portland and Bridgeport Village in Washington County.

The 12-mile Southwest Corridor MAX line would be an expensive and ambitious plan to connect Tualatin, Tigard, Southwest Portland and downtown Portland by light rail. There also are plans to guide the residential and commercial development that would accompany light rail.

Anyone wondering what the lay of the land would look like locally with light rail coming to this part of town can get an early look at the preliminary design of the proposed line from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the Multnomah Arts Center. This will be the first of five open houses. (See schedule below.)

"We want the project to reflect the values of the area. This is an exciting time in the design and planning for this," said Roberta Altstadt, spokeswoman for TriMet.

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Known No. 1: Stations

The open house will include illustrations of some of the major features of the project. For example, there will be information about 13 stations to be built along the route, seven of them in Southwest Portland. Preliminary design plans also include seven park and ride locations, five of those in Tigard. Unknown at this time is whether drivers will have to pay to park at those locations.

Known No. 2: New Barbur Boulevard bridges

There also will be illustrations and explanations of the plans for replacing the Newbury and Vermont viaducts (or bridges) located between the electronic speed limit warning signs on Barbur Boulevard. That stretch of Highway 99 through the area called The Woods has been disliked by bicyclists for decades. The bridges were built in 1934 by crews using shovels, pick-axes, dynamite, and wheel barrows pulled by horses.

Known No. 3: No narrower Barbur

In order to trim the preliminary cost of the project, TriMet developed a cheaper alternative that would have removed lanes for cars and trucks along the busiest stretches of Barbur Boulevard. The steering committee for the project rejected that plan after a rapid and negative response from the public.

Known No. 4: Bridgeport or bust

"It's Bridgeport," Altstadt said. There was talk in October of shortening the proposed route by 3.5 miles and having it end and begin in Tigard. The steering committee confirmed the original, longer route in December. There also is an alternative preliminary plan for what's called a "recommended interim terminus," which would have the line go as far as Upper Boones Ferry Road in Eastern Tigard.

PMG PHOTO: BILL GALLAGHER - TRIMET General Manager Doug Kelsey chairs the SW Corridor Project Steering Committee.

Unknown No. 1: Money

Taxpayers are wondering how much the light rail line will cost to build and who's going to pay for it. Here are some short answers:

In May 2018, the projected cost was $2.37 billion. Late in 2018 it went to $2.73 billion. By May of 2019 the cost was projected to be $2.84 billion. That's when the steering committee, led by TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey, declared a $462 million shortfall. About $370 million was trimmed from that by cutting some project expenses and increasing anticipated funding from local and national public "partners."

The projected cost was just under $2.5 billion as of December 2019.

Taxpayers will pay for it. If voters approve a major Metro transportation bond in November, $975 million of the proceeds would be spent on the Southwest Corridor Project. Millions of dollars' worth of funding also will come from local governments, which will be considering funding agreements in the next few months.

Unknown No. 2: Marquam Connector

It still hasn't been decided how light rail riders will be transported from the station at Southwest Gibbs Street at Barbur Boulevard up to Marquam Hill and all the medical facilities located there. A so-called Marquam Connector has never been considered expendable. Alstadt said feedback from the public on which of two alternatives they prefer will be taken at the open houses and at an on-line open house that TriMet will post at its website in February.

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February Southwest Corridor Project open houses

Wednesday, Feb. 12: 6-8 p.m., Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 S.W. Capitol Highway

Tuesday, Feb. 18: 6-8 p.m., Tigard Public Library 13500 S.W. Hall Blvd.

Tuesday, Feb. 25: 6-8 p.m., University Place Conference Center, 310 S.W. Lincoln St.

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