How soon will you be able to take light rail down 99W?
City takes a look at adding high-capacity transit down Barbur-99W corridor
By Leah Weissman
The Times, Sep 25, 2008
TIGARD – Is high-capacity transit down the Barbur-99W corridor in Tigard’s future? If the City Council had its way, light rail, commuter rail, rapid bus transit and streetcars would be transporting commuters through the city tomorrow.
But with the project development process expected to take up to 10 years, the city has hired a transportation policy consultant to help move the goal along and ensure that traffic won’t be Tigard citizens’ main concern in 2018.
Geoff Larkin has worked on every light-rail project in the Portland area and was project manager for the new WES commuter rail system. With his help, the city will compete against other cities’ proposed transportation projects and hopefully get federal and state funding for high-capacity transit down the Barbur-99W corridor.
“I really see this happening,” Larkin told The Times. “This corridor is a strong candidate and will compete very well regionally and nationally against other projects of its size and importance. Existing ridership is huge and the growth is tremendous. It begs for transportation solutions.”
But he also said competition would be fierce for funding.
“This project is not for those who seek instant gratification,” he told the City Council. “This is a contact sport. It’s expensive and takes years.”
Still, the City Council agreed it was time for Tigard to get its share.
“When asking what our residents’ primary concern is, it’s traffic congestion,” said Councilor Nick Wilson.
He listed sections of Interstate 5, Scholls Ferry Road and Highway 99W in Tigard as the most congested areas along the three strips.
“We have a mess and need to fix it,” Wilson said.
The first step in the lengthy process is looking at all the alternatives that will enhance transportation. The alternative analysis will include coordination with Washington County, TriMet, Metro, Tigard, other cities along the corridor and the public.
Council members agreed that light rail isn’t the only viable option, and that all forms of transportation and highway improvements should be considered.
Funding is also a huge issue and, at the moment, a mystery.
“Until we get into alternative analysis and see what the options are, we have no idea,” Larkin said. He said the region has a track record of having state funds match federal funds on high-capacity transit systems, and “I anticipate that model to continue.”
After the alternative analysis is complete, a locally preferred alternative will be voted on and conceptual design and preliminary engineering will take up to four years – adding onto the two years for the alternative analysis study. The final design and construction will then depend on the Federal Transportation Association’s schedule, Larkin said.
“We are just at the preliminary stages,” he emphasized.
To learn more about the city’s involvement and how residents can get involved, go to http://www.tigard-or.gov/new/08-08-2...ty_transit.asp