Downtown Portland to Bridgeport Village in 30 minutes flat, at rush hour? Tell us more, TriMet.
In fact, the regional transit agency is happy to oblige, with a series of several planned public forums intended to gather feedback on a proposed new light rail line linking the southwest suburbs with the downtown city core, adding 11 miles of track to the area’s existing high-speed transit system.
The $2.8 billion new line — it doesn’t have a color yet, but blue, green, yellow, red, and orange are taken, so could it be purple’s turn in the spotlight? — has been in development since 2011, and is now in the final stages of design planning.
That’s not to say it’s a done deal. A lot rests on federal funding — and the Portland area’s got a few other big-ticket projects in the hopper, including the gone-yesterday, here-today debate over a new Columbia River bridge and the increasingly contentious proposal to widen Interstate 5 around the Rose Quarter.
Plus, local voters will need to sign off in November on a proposed multi-billion dollar transportation funding package, during a packed ballot that could also see an ask for local schools, not to mention the presidential race.
If all goes well, though, construction would begin in 2022, and the new line would open by 2027, providing relief for commuters who navigate the hellish stretch around the Terwiliger curves, and balm for affianced couples who want to fill out their registry at the metro area’s only Crate and Barrel.
The new line would also make stops in downtown Tigard, PCC Sylvania and the Barbur Boulevard Transit Center before linking up with existing track at OHSU and the Southwest Waterfront, Portland’s erstwhile 6th Quadrant. (To make it easy to envision the route, TriMet has put together this nifty, shot-by-drone video.)
A few of the coolest-sounding features in the design proposals for the new stations:
- Inclined elevators to take commuters up Pill Hill to the main OHSU campus (and if you’re trying to get your steps in, don’t worry: according to plans, “a potential adjacent staircase could provide a route for those who wish to walk.”
- An elevator tower and pedestrian bridge would create a “tree walk” experience with views of Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens, from Terwiliger Parkway to OHSU.
- An “iconic mobility node and visible gateway” at the Bridgeport Village terminus. We’re not 100 percent sure of what this means, but look forward to finding out!
- New bike lanes, bike facilities and protected intersections for cyclists.
There’s a ton more to dig into here: check out TriMet’s conceptual design report for the full scoop, or attend one of the public forums being held from now until the beginning of March.