Planners have yet to decide on alignment options along several parts of the proposed MAX route.

SCREEN CAPTURE FROM OREGONMETRO.GOV - The interactive map on Metro's project website for the Southwest Corridor plan highlights sections of the planned MAX line where the preferred route alignment has not yet been identified.The regional government Metro has published a new online tool that allows visitors to take a closer look at the proposed route alignments that regional planners are considering for the Southwest Corridor light rail line.

The planned MAX line is expected to be operational by 2025 — as long as federal regulators sign off; funding for the estimated $2.8 billion project is lined up from some combination of local, state and federal sources; and the property can be acquired to construct it. At this point, while planners have agreed on a rough outline of the line's geography — it is expected to travel from downtown Portland through Southwest Portland, the Tigard Triangle and the 72nd Avenue industrial area before terminating at Bridgeport Village — exactly where it will be routed has yet to be decided.

Metro is asking for public feedback on the proposed alignments using the interactive map, with a Nov. 30 deadline.

In areas along the line where there are multiple alignment options, clicking on them will bring up a sidebar explaining each proposal and outlining its pros and cons.

Among the major options:

• Planners are deciding between running the MAX line down the center of Barbur Boulevard in Southwest Portland, which would mean essentially reconstructing the major thoroughfare and restricting some intersections and business access along the route, and aligning it along Interstate 5, which would be less disruptive but also place stations farther away from the places people live and work in the area.

• It has yet to be determined how the MAX line would serve downtown Tigard. While planners have committed to including a MAX station in downtown Tigard, which the transit agency TriMet now serves with several bus routes and a WES commuter rail stop at the Tigard Transit Center, one proposal under consideration is having the planned line branch off, with some trains traveling south to terminate at Bridgeport Village and others turning west to terminate in downtown Tigard. Both the through- and branched-route proposals have multiple possible configurations. Both would mean adding a new overpass crossing Highway 217 north of I-5.

• For the southernmost part of the planned MAX line, planners are looking at either running light rail tracks along I-5, with stations west of both the Bonita Road and Carmen Drive overpasses before the line's terminus at Bridgeport Village, or along the existing railroad tracks, crossing Bonita Road, 72nd Avenue and Upper Boones Ferry Road before reaching Bridgeport Village. The former option would have more space for user parking, according to Metro, but a number of businesses in the area have formed a coalition to oppose it, as it could displace more of them than the railroad alignment.

Decisions on the alignment options by the project steering committee are expected to be made in early 2018. A regionwide vote on funding for the Southwest Corridor plan is also expected next fall.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times
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