December 14, 2011  3:17 PM

Decision-makers explore on the ground conditions in the Southwest corridor


Southwest Corridor tourTo get a first-hand sense of the communities in the Southwest Corridor between Sherwood and Portland, Metro councilors Carl Hosticka and Barbara Roberts led the Southwest Corridor Plan Steering Committee on a bus tour of the area Monday morning. The committee, made up of elected and appointed officials from the 13 partner jurisdictions, is responsible for guiding the plan to a final recommendation to create livable and sustainable communities through the corridor. As they explored, tour participants shared stories about each place and observations about the connections between communities.

Learning from improvements in other communities

On the fly, the bus re-routed in Sherwood to experience Langer Farms Parkway, a new roadway connection from downtown to Highway 99W. The road opened on Nov. 19. Seeing the double-wide sidewalks on one side of Langer Farms, along with improved bike lane striping through Tualatin along Lower Boones Ferry Road, highlighted local efforts to make it easier to get around on foot or by bike.

Focusing on key connections

At Portland Community College's Sylvania campus, 26,000 students come and go throughout the day. The school operates its own shuttle between campuses to make it easier for students using multiple campuses. Students are already walking, biking and using transit, but better road, bike and pedestrian and transit connections in this hilly area could make it much safer and easier to get around. Participants saw busy transit centers in Southwest Portland, Tigard and at Bridgeport Village. Employees and residents are already taking advantage of transit, but there are more opportunities, especially for east-west transit connections to existing and planned employment areas in Tigard and Tualatin.

Considering local goals when planning for the whole corridor

Learning that the "Tigard Triangle" area between Interstate 5 and highways 99W and 217 is half as big as downtown Portland surprised some. Others knew the scope and had heard that Tigard leaders have been considering a citywide land use plan that includes a vision for long-term change in the triangle – a balance of urban residential, mixed-use buildings and community-friendly retail along with green and natural spaces.

Lake Grove residents and Lake Oswego officials are already thinking through a community vision that includes road improvements on Lower Boones Ferry and a development application for more mixed-use development across I-5 near Bridgeport Village. Lake Oswego and Beaverton are seeking ideas on how to extend activity in the Kruse Way and Washington Square areas – maybe adding more and higher-density residential housing within easy distance from existing amenities and roadway access.

Developing opportunities for public-private partnerships

As they talked throughout the tour, the group contrasted existing conditions and potential future changes. They noted private sector investments, like the redevelopment projects at Fred Meyer and Safeway in Southwest Portland, and considered how current and future private and public investments might benefit the area. On-the-ground knowledge and thoughtful consideration of ideas prepare them for the investment and action plan decisions they’ll make in 2012.

The Southwest Corridor Plan is a partnership between Metro, Multnomah County, Washington County, the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet and the cities of Beaverton, Durham, King City, Lake Oswego, Portland, Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin. The planning integrates multiple efforts: local land use plans to identify actions and investments that support livable communities; a transportation plan to examine high capacity transit alternatives and potential roadway, bicycle and pedestrian improvements; and strategies such as economic development, housing choices, parks and natural areas, safety and health.

Learn about the Southwest Corridor plan

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