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Southwest Corridor costs could top $2 billion

Metro presents range of price tags for high-capacity transit


Establishing high-capacity transit from Portland to Tigard could cost anywhere from $850 million to $1.7 billion, according to a Metro estimate presented last week. The price tag to extend the line to Tualatin would range from $350 million to $700 million.

Annual operating cost estimates for a Tualatin route range from $5.5 million to $7.5 million.

The 14-member Southwest Corridor Steering Committee, which includes Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden and Tigard Mayor John Cook, heard that lower price-points reflect the cost of developing a bus rapid transit route, rather than the more expensive light-rail option. The price of bus rapid transit routes varies based on how much of the line runs in general traffic, versus how much of a committed bus transit way is built.

The corridor includes Portland, Beaverton, Sherwood, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Durham and King City. Working with Metro, TriMet, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Multnomah and Washington counties, the cities seek to determine high-capacity transit route destinations and alignments — as well as what mode or modes of travel will run the corridor.

The light-rail option has proven unpopular in much of Washington County, with groups organizing to protest. A group opposing light-rail development in Tigard renewed its efforts to get a formal opposition to light rail in the city’s charter earlier this month, with concerns ranging from funding to doubts that the region has the population density to support such a development.

The steering committee is currently weighing whether the route should end in Tigard, extend to Tualatin or extend to Sherwood by way of Tualatin. It is estimated that a route ending in Tigard would serve a ridership of 22,500, while a route to Tualatin would serve 26,900, and a route to Sherwood would serve around 28,900.

The report presented $304 million worth of additional transportation improvements, as well as 21 projects that support land-use plans and which together would cost $157 million. Federal funds are expected to cover nearly half of construction costs for qualifying transit projects, according to Metro.

The steering committee is expected to narrow down five transit options for analysis within the next month, with a draft environmental impact study of the project due in 2017. In the meantime, Tualatin officials have been considering the socio-economic and general aesthetic impact a high-capacity transit route would have on the region.

“The notion associated with this is access to the job market here in Tualatin,” Ogden said during a June 10 City Council work session. “The industrial community says we can’t get workers here because we don’t have enough transit.”

But the implication of transit-oriented development posed a threat to “the sleepy, quiet, little town preference a lot of people have,” Ogden added. “So can the two coexist?”

He felt that high-capacity transit could potentially fund local improvements through Tualatin.

“You don’t need high-capacity transit to do the local improvements, but we can hitch our wagon to that star and help prioritize the funding.”

For more information about the Southwest Corridor plan, and to take an online public survey available through Wednesday, June 26, visit swcorridorplan.org.



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