Portland City Council delays SW MAX Corridor vote

Coronavirus

Pandemic delays vote until at least late spring or early summer

A MAX train in Portland (Portland Tribune file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Portland Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has delayed the City Council vote to move the Southwest Corridor MAX line forward previously scheduled for Wednesday, April 1.

“It was confirmed this morning by the Commissioner’s Office that they would like to reschedule this item for late spring/early summer. Staff from both Trimet and PBOT want more notice and opportunity for the public to weigh in on the Conceptual Design of the project,” the City Auditor’s Office said Monday morning.

Previous KOIN coverage: SW Max Corridor project

The $2.8 billion line is intended to provide light-rail service in the corridor between Portland, Tigard and Tualatin. It has been in the works for years and has now reached the point where participating governments must approve the planning to date and authorize the next steps.

sw corridor proposed max route 08152018_1534353467422.jpg.jpg

The council had been scheduled to vote to adopt the draft Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project Conceptual Design Report and approve the draft Conceptual Design Report Work Program for the project. Project staff are then expected to complete 30% of the design and engineering by late summer 2020, and will release the Final Environmental Impact Statement by fall 2020.

According to the resolution previously before the council, city staff working on the project have identified numerous issues that need to be resolved and either incorporated into the 30% design plans or used to provide direction for the basis of the final engineering phase. Major unresolved issues include the type and cost of the connector between the proposed MAX station on Southwest Barbur Boulevard and OHSU’s campus on Marquam Hill. Another major issue is how to reconfigure the on- and off-ramps at the Ross Island Bridgehead at the west end of the bridge.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

An even bigger issue is how to pay for the project. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to pay 50% if state, regional and local governments can match it. Metro, the elected regional government, is planning to refer a regional funding measure to tri-county voters at the Nov. 3 general election to help provide the match and fund other regional projects.

But the referral schedule has been thrown off by COVID-19 meeting restrictions, and some are questioning whether voters should be asked to approve such a measure if Oregon is in a recession.

Complicating the matter is the lack of public participation at current council meetings. The council is meeting remotely without the public present. Only the audio of the meetings is currently being screened. The public is encouraged to email written testimony to the Council Clerk at cctestimony@portlandoregon.gov.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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