Tigard officials express concerns with aspects of proposed light rail
While members of the Tigard City Council passed a resolution accepting TriMet's final conceptual design report for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail project, the city still has concerns about traffic, the location of a Southwest Hall Boulevard station, and how a maintenance facility might affect future development in the downtown area.
At issue are plans to build an 11-mile MAX line that would take riders from downtown Portland to the Bridgeport Village shopping complex in Tigard. That line would include seven light rail stations built in Portland, five in Tigard and one in Tualatin.
Whether that happens may hinge on voter approval of Measure 26-218, a wide-sweeping transportation package known as "Get Moving 2020" proposed by Metro that, among other projects, would provide an estimated $975 million for the Southwest Corridor light rail line.
But Tigard officials have recently expressed concerns about the specifics of light rail coming through their city, with Mayor Jason Snider telling TriMet officials that the project has changed significantly since its inception years ago, when there were plans for a station in downtown Tigard and plans to cross Southwest Upper Boones Ferry Road at grade. The mayor has also expressed frustration that the final environmental impact statement hasn't been shared with the city yet.
In addition, Snider said original plans had called for "making the city more walkable with transit-oriented development in the (Tigard) Triangle and downtown."
"I still have some concern that the project will deliver on these key Tigard objectives," he stated in a recent email.
One of the issues has been a desire to locate the Hall Boulevard station closer to the downtown core of the city, instead of a current proposal that would build that station along Hall Boulevard in a grassy area that's in front of Apex Industries Inc., between Southwest Commercial and Scoffins streets.
Snider also said one of the issues he wants taken into consideration is making sure a planned operations and maintenance facility, which TriMet is hoping to locate in the Hunziker Industrial Area, doesn't harm future development or walking connections.
But it's the current location of the Hall Boulevard station that has been a concern of Tigard officials over the last several years.
"We believe that Hall Boulevard near the station is going to need to accommodate more buses, more transit riders crossing the street, more bicyclists and more wait time when MAX rains come through," Snider wrote about concerns, expressing many of those as well at a Sept. 22 City Council meeting that included Metro officials. "We have the same belief about Upper Boones Ferry, but there the concerns are magnified because the traffic patterns in that location are already so problematic."
At that same meeting, Councilor Liz Newton said the Hall Boulevard station really needs to be part of Tigard's downtown core area.
"I think it's important to me. That's the lens we look through," Newton said, saying she knows Tigard residents who are interested in having the station being integrated into that downtown area.
"My question is where's the trust with TriMet if we've been for years been talking about this, saying that things are going to be changed, but we're still sitting here with a document that says all of our concerns are unresolved," asked Council President John Goodhouse. "How do we move forward when we constantly are having unresolved issues and still not making any progression?"
Goodhouse was the lone councilor to vote against approving the resolution accepting TriMet's final conceptual design report.
But TriMet officials say they have done their best, noting that theirs is not the only agency involved with the light rail project. The Oregon Department of Transportation, Washington County, Metro and the federal government are all weighing in as well.
"I appreciate the frustration that you are expressing to us about why you haven't seen some of the draft chapters and some of that presentation, but I think there have been opportunities for your staff to get some of this information through the public meetings that we've had and the project management process that we've had that talks about where traffic is and the great coordination we've doing on transit-oriented development," Dave Unsworth, director capital projects at TriMet, told the council.
After Goodhouse expressed a desire to make sure the light rail project in Tigard was "done right," Jeb Doran, a TriMet senior project manager for the Southwest Corridor light rail project, said TriMet wants to do it right as well and that "we are committed to that and the process is intended to pursue that vision and that as a goal."
TriMet officials say that the city will have multiple opportunities to weigh in and comment on the light rail project as it moves through its next phase. With only 30% of its design stage completed, plans now are to hire a designer to bring the project to 60% of design completion.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.