Extreme winter weather prompts TriMet to shift A Better Red disruption one week


With construction now fully underway, the disruption will last for the next six weeks, with MAX service reopening on March 4

The region’s weeklong dangerous and destructive winter storm has shifted the timeline for the MAX disruption necessary for TriMet’s A Better Red MAX Extension and Reliability Improvements Project.

The disruption to the MAX Blue, Green and Red lines is now underway. With the shifted schedule in place, we plan to return the lines to regular service on Monday, March 4.

The new completion date gives crews the time they need to finish vital work on A Better Red around the Gateway Transit Center, as well as make improvements to the MAX system along Interstate 84 and elsewhere. Completing all of these projects will help prevent the need for further disruptions in the immediate future.  

Safety comes first in emergencies

We know riders and people across the region have been through a challenging week, and we appreciate their understanding as we transitioned our transit system from emergency weather operations to the planned A Better Red disruption on Sunday, Jan. 21. This came after restoring MAX service system wide, except on the MAX Red Line, on Saturday, Jan. 20, following the unrelenting cold and bouts of snow, high winds and ice. Our focus was on the safety of our riders, employees and equipment during the extreme conditions, as well as keeping as much transit service moving as possible and restoring service that had to be suspended.

Power outages, downed trees, packed ice and frigid temperatures created many challenges, and our crews sprang into action, working around the clock to tackle issues as they emerged. We enlisted the help of staff from nearly ten contractors who had been standing by for the Better Red project work to begin. They quickly shifted to assist our employees with our recovery efforts, especially on the MAX system. They helped remove snow and ice from trackways, rail crossings and platforms, as well as downed trees and make repairs to our overhead wire system that was damaged on the west side. 

While we had to pause major portions of the project, some crews were actually able to get a bit of the construction underway during the storm, including some work on the new track and station just north of Gateway Transit Center, but, understandably, the conditions weren’t the best for that type of work.  

With the storm finally past, TriMet’s focus can now be on the future—improving our riders’ overall experience by relieving a chokepoint in our system. This will have positive impacts across the entire MAX system and allow us to grow our light rail network in the future.

Getting around the disruption

With major construction on A Better Red having resumed, our top focus is on getting you around the disruption. We are running shuttle buses to replace light rail service on the MAX Blue, Green and Red lines. Trips will take longer, and in some cases regular bus service may be faster. Our trip-planning tool—trimet.org/planner—will give you the fastest route from point A to point B during the disruption. But in many cases, transferring to shuttle buses will be necessary. Please consider other transportation if traveling through the disrupted area, if possible.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • MAX Blue Line: The Blue Line will be split into two sections. Trains will operate between Hatfield Government Center in Hillsboro and NE 7th Ave in Portland as well as between E 102nd Ave and Cleveland Ave in Gresham. Shuttle buses will serve stations  between NE 7th Ave and E 102nd Ave.
  • MAX Green Line: Green Line trains will only travel between Clackamas Town Center Transit Center and SE Main St. Shuttle buses will run directly between SE Main St and Gateway Transit Center. At Gateway, those continuing west toward Downtown Portland will need to transfer to Blue Line shuttle buses heading to NE 7th Ave. In Downtown Portland, there will be no Green Line trains running. Use MAX Orange and Yellow lines or regular bus service along the Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues.
  • MAX Red Line: Red Line service will not operate during the disruption. Use the MAX Blue Line between Beaverton Transit Center and NE 7th Ave and shuttle buses between NE 7th Ave and Gateway Transit Center. For trips to and from the airport, a Red Line shuttle bus will run between Gateway and PDX, serving the three stations along the way.
  • MAX Orange and Yellow lines: MAX Orange and Yellow line service will not be affected by the project, and trains will operate on regular schedules.

 A Better Red

A Better Red is TriMet’s multi-year project to extend the MAX Red Line west to Hillsboro and improve train movement through the Gateway Transit Center and at Portland International Airport. Despite the recent weather challenges, the project remains on schedule to be fully completed this summer. As one of the largest civil construction projects in Oregon, work cannot be limited to the summer months without significant increases to both its cost and schedule.

Improvements have been happening to the MAX Red Line as we make progress on the project that kicked off in the fall of 2021. Last summer, crews added a second track near Portland International Airport and rebuilt the MAX station there. These enhancements opened in October, following 126 days of construction. Upon completion of the current disruption, Red Line riders will experience a new inbound-only MAX station, dubbed Gateway North, along with new track and bridges to speed-up travel. The final phase of the project will be the Red Line extension ten stations west to Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport, which will open in August 2024. We thank our riders for their patience during the different stages of construction. Not only will the project improve the MAX Red Line, it will increase reliability across the entire MAX system. For more information, go to trimet.org/bettered.