(VIDEO) As Better Red’s PDX disruption hits halfway mark, construction begins on TriMet’s new airport MAX station


With more work to come, TriMet hits mid-point on schedule to reopen MAX Red Line Oct. 22

TriMet’s four-month-long disruption for “A Better Red” is approaching the halfway mark on schedule. In the past two months, crews have been busy with significant demolition and construction of the MAX system between the Gateway Transit Center and Portland International Airport. The 126-day disruption, which began June 18, is allowing crews to completely replace the Portland International Airport MAX station and install a second track along the alignment, between the new station and Air Cargo Road.

Since the MAX Red Line opened in 2001, this three-quarters-of-a-mile stretch has been served by one track, supporting both PDX’s inbound and outbound trains. Installation of the second track also involves upgrading all the components that support trains, such as rail crossings, signals, rail crossovers and the overhead contact wires, as well as the poles and power systems that support them. This will complete the Red Line’s double trackway between PDX and Mt. Hood MAX stations, improving efficiency by allowing trains to move past each other in both directions at once. 

During the project, shuttle buses have been serving MAX stations between PDX and Gateway Transit Center, running about every 15 minutes throughout most of the day. Due to the length of the shutdown, Customer Service representatives and additional Ride Guides have been stationed at PDX at times to help riders make their shuttle bus connections. This phase of the Better Red project is expected to finish this fall, with MAX Red Line trains returning to regular service on Sunday, Oct. 22.

New PDX station takes off

The Portland International Airport MAX Station as we knew it is no more. It was demolished during the first few weeks of the disruption to make room for the new station, designed with two parallel tracks in mind. Construction recently began on the new station, with some of the concrete foundations being formed.

Construction has begun on the new Portland International Airport MAX station following the demolition of the former station.

The new station will be a little longer to better accommodate trains. It will also be rectangular —200 feet long and 18 feet wide—for improved train movement and rider comfort. The previous station was triangular-shaped, ending at a point where the two tracks on both sides of the platform intersected into one. This made the former platform unique among our stations. Uniformity has its upside, as not only will the new platform be more spacious end-to-end, but it will also feature two shelters, similar to those along the MAX Orange Line, stretched to provide cover across nearly the entire station. The new station will open once the project completes in October.

Major demolition, significant construction

In addition to the new MAX station, crews have been working to reconstruct the existing track between Air Cargo Road and PDX. Previously, this was the only track serving the area, with trains using it to travel in both directions. Crews have also made significant progress on the new track between Air Cargo Road and PDX, including the construction of a second at-grade crossing.

Crews are also working on the construction of a new multi-use path for bikes and pedestrians, which will also run between Air Cargo Road and PDX.

A Better Red

TriMet’s A Better Red MAX Extension and Reliability Project will extend the MAX Red Line 10 stations west, from Beaverton Transit Center to Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport. It’s also adding another track and additional infrastructure near Gateway Transit Center and Portland International Airport to help keep trains moving throughout the MAX system more reliably. The project has been ongoing since September 2021, with occasional disruptions necessary to allow for major construction to take place in the trackway. Now more than 70% completed, the project is expected to be closed out in the summer of 2024.

With the Better Red project covering parts the MAX Red Line from PDX to Hillsboro, crews have been working at multiple locations at once to finish the multi-phased project. Much of the work has taken place near the Gateway Transit Center, including the installation of new track and track components along with the construction of new MAX bridges. A new station for westbound trains will also be constructed just north of the Gateway Transit Center.

A new TriMet operator breakroom is under construction at Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport MAX station, which will become the new end of MAX Red Line when A Better Red completes in summer 2024.

In Washington County, crews at Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport are working on finishing the interior of the new operator building and constructing a walkway for TriMet operators. The completed facility will have bathrooms, a small meal area and a work station. Construction on the building and walkway is expected to wrap up within the next couple months and be ready for operators’ use when MAX Red Line service is extended to Hillsboro next year.

We appreciate our riders’ patience as we continue making progress on this major project and work to get riders around the construction. For more information, go to trimet.org/bettered