Discussions begin on a possible Barbur light rail line
On Sept. 24, Metro Councilors Collette and Hosticka attended a presentation and tour of the Barbur Boulevard/Highway 99W corridor as part of a conversation about bringing light rail to the southwest part of the region.
Local newspaper publisher Steve Clark organized the event for elected officials and stakeholders from Tigard, Portland, Metro and TriMet to discuss the responsibilities, process and timeline for a possible light rail extension to Tigard.
The event opened with remarks from TriMet general manager Fred Hansen, Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen and Metro Councilor Collette. Mayor Dirksen's remarks noted the desire for Tigard is to "preserve the single family home neighborhoods today, while accommodating future growth with sustainable, reliable transportation." Collette pointed out that the corridor was one of the top three corridors – along with Powell Boulevard and the WES commuter rail – ranked for potential new or improved high capacity transit in Metro's recent Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan. Collette praised local jurisdictions for "implementing plans and projects that will prepare this corridor to support light rail."
Alan Lehto of TriMet followed the remarks with a presentation that discussed the travel and economic benefits that high capacity transit brings to local communities, the corridor's strong transit history and how such a project could enhance the current light rail and commuter rail system while supporting the region's 2040 Growth Concept. Lehto emphasized the need to focus on potential station areas at this preliminary stage of a considered project, with the goal of building communities to be connected by future transit investment. He explained that funding, planning, engineering and finally building the high capacity transit to connect these communities would happen much later in the process on a 10 plus year timeline.
At this point, a transit project in the Barbur Boulevard/Highway 99W corridor is not guaranteed, or even guaranteed to be next on Metro's agenda. After the event, Metro transit project analysis manager Tony Mendoza noted that the next step is for the region is to select a top priority from the top three near-term corridors based on the system expansion policy adopted by the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation and the Metro Council for inclusion in the Regional Transportation Plan. He said that local initiative, though, will certainly be an important factor in determining the next corridor to be the focus of a high capacity transit project.