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Entire Portland region may vote on Southwest light rail line

FILE PHOTO - TriMet's MAX line passes through downtown Portland near the Skidmore Fountain.
Portland-area officials gave the green light last week to a new light rail line southwest to Tualatin. But voters may have the final word before the line is built, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Voters in three suburban cities — King City, Tigard and Tualatin — would have to approve the transit line, but voters across the region may weigh in to raise the necessary funding, according to Metro Councilor and Southwest Corridor Plan Steering Committee Co-chair Bob Stacey.

“It’s likely now that the region will vote on a funding strategy for the local share — that is the non-federal share — of this major transportation investment,” Stacey said.

The committee voted this week not to include a tunnel under the Sylvania campus of Portland Community College in the light rail plan, largely due to the high cost of construction. Stacey said the new line would still cost upwards of $1 billion, but without the tunnel, there would be money available for the line to reach more of the southwest suburbs.

Officials have several possible routes from Portland to Tualatin to evaluate. Stacey said it’s challenging to find a single route that touches on all the key areas between Portland and Tualatin.

Stacey expects TriMet to expand bus lines for PCC and other areas that won’t be right on the MAX line.

But none of the proposed options will happen soon.

Regional officials will have to conduct an environmental impact statement for the large transportation project, and that wouldn’t finish until next year some time. Construction for a new MAX line would be unlikely to finish before 2025.