(VIDEO) Final phase of construction for TriMet’s A Better Red project requires March MAX disruption


MAX Blue Line in Hillsboro to be disrupted March 16-24 for signal system upgrades

Construction of TriMet’s A Better Red MAX Extension and Reliability Improvements Project is nearing the end of the line in more ways than one.

The final planned disruption for the multi-year project will take place from Saturday, March 16, through Sunday, March 24, along a stretch of the MAX Blue Line in Hillsboro. Shuttle buses will serve closed stations between Orenco Station and Hatfield Government Center. This will allow crews to finish signal work in and around the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport MAX Station, what will become the new end of the line for MAX Red Line trains beginning this summer.

The disruption is essential to the 10-station extension of the MAX Red Line from Beaverton Transit Center to Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport, opening in late August. We will complete the Hillsboro signal work this spring to provide time for operator training and to complete finishing touches on the project prior to the extension’s opening.

The upcoming March disruption will be limited to the MAX Blue Line in Hillsboro. For all other lines, trains will be running on their regular schedules and continue serving all of their stations. TriMet will have On-Street Customer Service personnel and other staff available to help riders make their connections during the disruption.

Help getting around

We want to help you get around this nine-day disruption with ease. Not only will TriMet staff be available at closed stations to answer questions, we will also have signs up directing you to shuttle bus stops. Now is also a good time to start thinking ahead. We encourage you to plan up to an extra 30 minutes for your trips.

You can use our trip-planning tool on trimet.org now for travel times and details. Remember to use a date between March 16-24. We also suggest you go to trimet.org/email to create an account and sign up for alerts. (Make sure to sign up for MAX Blue Line for reminders about this upcoming disruption, but all bus and MAX lines are available to match how you travel.)

You can reach out to TriMet’s Customer Service team by calling or texting 503-238-RIDE (7433) daily between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Or you can drop us a direct message on X (formerly Twitter) at @trimethelp. You can also check out our page dedicated to planned improvements projects: trimet.org/hillsboro.

A Better Red

This is a big year for A Better Red. It’s when all the improvements come together, concluding with extended MAX Red Line service to Hillsboro. For that to happen, we have to finish two major portions of the project. We’re almost there!

First, construction at the Gateway Transit Center is completing a major redesign of the track and systems, resulting in the new Gateway North MAX Station and improved train reliability. Regular MAX service returns on Monday, March 4, with the opening of the new station.

Finally, the March work in Hillsboro will complete the signals work needed for the MAX Red Line extension. We want to thank our riders for their patience. A Better Red is our biggest MAX project since the MAX Orange Line opened in 2015. In some ways, it’s even more complicated, as much of the construction has had to take place within our existing trackway. We appreciate our riders’ understanding as we work to bring the project to a close.

Constructing connections

The March MAX Blue Line disruption will primarily involve making signal improvements to accommodate our service extension. Think of it as the way our trains communicate with the system at large, and how they’re given priority through different areas, allowing operators, rail controllers and our automated systems to manage train movement.

Most of the physical infrastructure for the A Better Red extension was already built and installed during a previous disruption in 2022, making this the final shutdown necessary to connect and upgrade our systems and create a new end of the line for MAX Red Line trains. Because this part of the light rail system dates back to the 1990s, crews will be replacing the equipment from that era with more current and advanced technology.

The Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport MAX Station has evolved in several ways over the past two years of the project. In November 2022, we began making changes to the track and finishing the operator walkway. At the same time, crews replaced wooden ties with new ones. They also installed six new rail switch machines and replaced older parts of the track, particularly where the rails cross, with ones that are better suited to our expanded operations. Much of the work has taken place without the need to disrupt service, including the construction of a new operator facility and a walkway between the facility and the pocket track, or the place where trains will turn back and will be temporarily parked when operators are on break. All of this will serve our riders and operators better once the extended MAX Red Line opens this summer.

For more information on A Better Red and how it will make transit better, visit trimet.org/betterred.