Long-anticipated $2-plus billion project would link Portland, Tigard and Tualatin
City leaders also announced regional agreement to promote affordable housing along proposed route
(Nov. 1, 2018) The Portland City Council today will consider a major step forward in bringing faster, more convenient public transit to Southwest Portland.
The Council will consider supporting a 12-mile route for the MAX line that would travel southwest along SW Barbur Blvd and parallel to Interstate 5 in Portland. Along this route, the $2.3 to 2.8 billion project will connect downtown and Southwest Portland with Tigard, and Tualatin ending near the Bridgeport Village regional mall.
The project will serve an average 43,000 weekday commuters in 2035, carrying 20 percent of southbound evening rush-hour commuters.
In an important measure to support more affordable housing options along the transit route, the City developed an agreement with Tigard, Washington County, Metro and TriMet to promote affordable housing along the route by making excess land available for housing construction.
“Ensuring that public transit serves all our residents is a top priority,” Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said. “That is why I strongly support the regional agreement to secure land for affordable housing along this route. With the agreement in place, this much needed project will not just improve regional mobility, it will protect against displacement and gentrification. I look forward to serving on the Southwest Corridor Steering Committee to guide future project decisions, ensuring that this project meets our transportation, housing, economic and equity goals."
In the past, TriMet has teamed up with governments and community-based organizations to use individual parcels of land from previous light rail projects for affordable housing, but the Southwest Corridor agreement is unique in looking at a comprehensive housing strategy for the entire alignment.
“Creating more affordable housing is a region-wide priority and that urgency requires we all think creatively and aggressively about how we tackle the challenge,” said TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey. “TriMet is dedicated to help meet the need for affordable housing in the Southwest Corridor, and we see 950 units as the floor, not the ceiling of what we and our partners can achieve together to put roofs over the heads of those in need.”
The project is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Portland City Council meeting, at City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Ave.
“As a City, we’ve learned some very hard lessons about what happens when we fail to prioritize affordable housing and displacement prevention alongside our major transportation infrastructure investments,” said Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan. “With this strategy, we are taking action to build from those hard lessons and ensure that the residents along the Southwest Corridor are able to share in the benefits and opportunities that come with the region’s next light rail line.”
A Southwest Corridor public transit improvement has been in regional plans since the 1980s, but other routes were built first.
The proposed route will include a connection to Marquam Hill and a shuttle to the Portland Community College Sylvania Campus. It was developed over the last seven years by Metro, TriMet, ODOT, City of Portland staff and staff from Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood and Washington County with significant public input.
The proposed route will support improved transit time; convenient connections between stations and jobs, businesses and homes; and improved traffic safety for all travelers and keep all travel lanes on Barbur.
After local agencies and jurisdictions formalize their support for the route, the Metro Council will vote to adopt the final route into the Regional Transportation Plan. This will allow TriMet to design the project and ultimately apply for state and federal funds in support of the project.
As the project moves into implementation, TriMet will convene a Southwest Corridor Steering Committee made up of the jurisdictions directly affected by the project. This will likely include Cities of Portland, Tigard, and Tualatin along with Washington County, ODOT, Metro and TriMet.
The Steering Committee will make decisions on key items such as finalizing alignments, size and location of park-and-ride lots, station locations, and will provide direction on budget.
Commissioner Eudaly will represent the Portland City Council and community interests on the Steering Committee to lead the project through design and construction.