TriMet places Southwest MAX discussions on hold
Following the Nov. 3 defeat of Metro's Measure 26-218, an extensive transportation package that would have funded an estimated 150 transportation projects — as well as the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail project — TriMet will put a pause on its MAX plans for the moment.
"Over the next few months, we will work to conclude the final environmental impact statement and temporarily shut down the project while we explore a path forward," said Tyler Graf, a spokesperson for TriMet. "We will have advanced the project to a point where it could be efficiently restarted at a future date, when resources become available."
However, there are plans to hold a virtual steering committee meeting for the project on Monday, Nov. 16, from 9 to 10 a.m. That meeting will discuss the recent election results and the "buttoning up" of the MAX plans, according to a TriMet officials.
The plan for the Southwest Corridor MAX line was to stretch 11 miles between downtown Portland and Bridgeport Village, just outside Tualatin. It would include seven light rail stations built in Portland, five in Tigard and one in Tualatin.
"It's a disappointing result, particularly because the Tigard community had the most to gain of any local jurisdiction if the measure passed," said Tigard Mayor Jason Snider of the failure of the Metro measure, which 57.8% of voters rejected, according to unofficial results. "Both the light rail project and the regional transportation and the regional transportation investments would have helped Tigard become a more walkable, healthy and inclusive community."
Still, Snider said it wasn't altogether surprising given economic concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding mechanism — a payroll tax of up to 0.75% for employers with 26 or more employees.
However, Snider said he didn't believe it would stop momentum in downtown Tigard and Tigard Triangle development.
"We still need light rail transit service in the Southwest Corridor," said Snider, who is a member of the steering committee that has guided many proposed Southwest Corridor decisions. "I plan to support whatever actions the region takes in the future to ensure the project gets built."
Snider thinks that a funding mechanism should be found that's "specific, equitable thoughtful, time-bound" with both broad community and business support.
Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik said he wasn't surprised with the outcome of the Metro measure, either. He wasn't supportive of the funding mechanism and was therefore "not a vocal advocate of the measure's passage," he added.
"I believe the projects are worthy, but Metro needs to work with the business community on a fairer allocation of the measure costs between business and residents," Bubenik said. "The region has traffic congestion and transportation issues, and they need to be addressed sooner (rather) than later."
Metro Council results
Voters elected Gerritt Rosenthal of Tualatin and Mary Nolan of Portland to open seats on the Metro Council last Tuesday, Nov. 3.
According to unofficial results, Rosenthal defeated Tigard City Councilor Tom Anderson in District 3 with 51% of the vote, while Nolan topped Chris Smith with 61.6% of the vote in District 5.
Rosenthal will succeed former Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen on the Metro Council, shifting the regional government to the left. Nolan will succeed Sam Chase. Neither Dirksen nor Chase sought re-election this year.
— Mark Miller
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