TriMet releases final conceptual design report for the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project

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The proposed project—to build a light rail line; add signalized/marked crosswalks; add, widen or buffer sidewalks and bike lanes; pave roadways and rebuild road infrastructure—is one of the transportation projects that would be funded through Metro’s Measure 26-218, which would, if passed, establish a new tax on certain employers of up to 0.75% of payroll.

On left: Conceptual design for Gibbs Street Station, if measure passes and proposed project is completed. On right: Google image of current location for proposed Gibbs Station if measure passes.

The public can now view the Final Conceptual Design Report for the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project, which is posted on trimet.org/swcorridor.

The proposed project would receive $975 million in funding through the proposed Measure 26-218, which, if it passes, would fund approximately 150 transportation projects in the tri-county region. The proposed measure would be funded by a proposed tax on certain employers within the Metro District. If the proposed measure passes, these employers would pay up to 0.75% of their payroll in the district. The Metro Council may set a lower rate. If the proposed measure passes, employers with 25 or fewer employees, and local and state governments, would be exempt from the proposed tax. If the proposed measure passes, assessment of the proposed tax would begin in 2022.

If Measure 26-218 passes, the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project would include building a light rail line between Downtown Portland and Tualatin, along with 13 light rail stations and sidewalks, marked and/or signalized crosswalks, bike facilities and stormwater treatments near the stations.

If the measure does not pass, the tax would not be imposed and all aspects of the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project would not move forward, including bringing Barbur Boulevard bridges up to modern-day earthquake standards, employing workers on the construction of the project and identifying sites for 750 to 950 new units of affordable housing in the corridor. TriMet, Metro and city and county entities would instead reassess the future of the Southwest Corridor.

Design elements of the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project

On left: Conceptual design for the Barbur Transit Center, if measure passes and proposed project is completed. On right: Google image of current location for proposed Barbur Transit Center if measure passes.

If Measure 26-218 is approved, the proposed Southwest Corridor project would:

  • Build an 11-mile light rail line between Downtown Portland and Tualatin, including a 1.6 mile shared transitway where buses would separate from automobile traffic from SW  Barbur Boulevard and Slavin Road to SW 5th Avenue & Lincoln Street
  • Build 13 light rail stations: seven in Portland, five in Tigard and one in Tualatin
  • Add 10 miles of new sidewalks and 6 miles of upgraded bike facilities
  • Build Oregon’s first inclined elevator to take people between the proposed Gibbs Street MAX Station and Marquam Hill.
  • Rebuild more than 10 miles of roadways, and would maintain two auto lanes in each direction on SW Barbur Blvd between Naito Pkwy and Capitol Highway/I-5
  • Reconstruct two 84-year old viaducts that support Barbur Boulevard to meet current earthquake standards
  • Install new signalized crossings at 32 locations, including 23 across Barbur Boulevard
  • Rebuild or upgrade 21 other pedestrian crossings
  • Add stormwater facilities to treat runoff from nearly 81 acres of impervious surfaces that currently flows into streams, rivers, groundwater and basements
  • Build four bridges to take light rail over I-405, I-5 and Hwy 217 and not impede traffic on those freeways
  • Add four Park & Rides with up to 2,000 spaces

Final conceptual design report developed with public feedback

On left: Conceptual design for Hall Boulevard Station, if measure passes and proposed project is completed. On right: Google image of current location for proposed Hall Boulevard Station if measure passes.

TriMet, Metro, Oregon Department of Transportation, Washington County and the cities of Durham, Portland, Tigard and Tualatin developed the final conceptual design report for the proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project using public feedback on the draft conceptual design report, which was released in February 2020. The design of the Southwest Corridor light rail line, and accompanying transportation and environmental changes, is based on nine years of community engagement, as well as the work of the Southwest Corridor’s Community Advisory Committee and Steering Committee.

The proposed project is currently in the design phase. No engineering or construction work has begun. If Measure 26-218 passes, the Southwest Corridor project would support the creation of nearly 28,000 jobs. If the measure does not pass, the payroll tax would not be assessed, the Southwest Corridor project would not move forward and those new jobs would not be created.

The conceptual designs for the proposed stations, sidewalks, crossings, bike facilities, roadway upgrades, and stormwater treatments in the project’s Final Conceptual Design Report are at trimet.org/swcorridor/design.

Proposed Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project at a Glance

  • The Southwest Corridor is home to more than 10% of the region’s population, with some 70,000 new residents and 65,000 new jobs expected in the corridor by 2035.
  • As of 2015, communities of color made up 21% of the Southwest Corridor population, increasing at a yearly rate three times faster than the white population. The fastest growing group, 5.1% per year, was people who identify as Black. View the City of Portland’s SW Corridor Equity and Housing Assessment, page 8, 3. Demographics.
  • Estimates developed by Metro show an up to 17% increase in traffic on I-5 between Portland and Tigard by 2035.
  • If Measure 26-218 passes, the light rail line would create a consistent 30-minute travel time between Downtown Portland and Bridgeport with connections to regional centers including West Portland Town Center, Tigard Triangle, Downtown Tigard and Bridgeport Village.
  • If the measure passes and the Southwest Corridor project goes forward, roads, sidewalks and bikeways would also be constructed or existing pathways widened, marked or separated from auto lanes along 10 miles of the project alignment.
  • The cost of the proposed Southwest Corridor project would be $2.8 billion, and about 50% of the funding would be sought from the federal government.
  • If Measure 26-218 passes, construction would begin in 2022 with the project opening in 2027. Proposed project schedule, if the measure passes:

Southwest Corridor projects would be completed with TriMet, Metro, Oregon Department of Transportation, Washington County and the cities of Durham, Portland, Tigard and Tualatin. Learn more and sign up for project email updates at trimet.org/swcorridor.

This information, except for the website links, was reviewed by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office for compliance with ORS 260.432.