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Quick answers to your project questions

Planning and conservation    Transportation and land use projects    Lake Oswego to Portland transit    Answers to project questions

Questions have been raised and assertions have been made by advocacy groups regarding the Lake Oswego to Portland Transit Project alternatives. In order to address any confusion, the project team has compiled responses to the most pertinent questions.

Find answers to these questions:

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Is a new streetcar line going to be built between Lake Oswego and Portland?

The Lake Oswego to Portland Transit Project is currently studying three alternatives, including streetcar, to meet future travel demand between Lake Oswego and downtown Portland:
No-build This alternative would make only those transit and highway improvements possible with projected financial resources by the year 2035.

  • Enhanced bus service: The enhanced bus service alternative would have more frequent service and fewer stops than regular local bus service along Highway 43 and a 300-space park and ride facility near the Lake Oswego Albertsons.
  • Streetcar: This option would create streetcar service with a Lake Oswego terminus at Albertsons on State Street. Park and ride facilities would be located at this location (300 spaces) and in Foothills (100 spaces).

Project partners have been preparing a detailed analysis of the benefits and trade-offs of the three alternatives. This analysis will soon be published for review and comment. The project steering committee will rely on public input and the analysis results to select one of the options, making it the official Locally Preferred Alternative in late 2010.

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What is the project budget?

The range of streetcar design and construction costs is $380 to $460 million in future dollars (2017), which includes the estimated $100 million value of the Willamette Shore Line right of way owned by the region. The value of the right of way can be matched by federal funds.

The project budget varies from $51 to $460 million, depending on the alternative selected. Enhanced bus service has the lowest one-time design and construction costs, but has higher annual operating costs. Streetcar has higher design and construction costs, but lower annual operating costs. The streetcar will cost about $1 million less annually to operate and maintain than enhanced bus service.

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What feedback has the community provided about this project?

Local communities along this corridor have been involved in project planning and refinement of the options. The project’s community advisory committee includes local residents, business leaders and representatives from public institutions and community groups. The committee considers information and provides input and guidance to the project management group and steering committee.

A 2010 poll of Lake Oswego residents found that 67 percent of respondents favor streetcar service to Portland in the corridor.

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Will the streetcar reduce congestion on Highway 43?

Currently, commuters experience substantial congestion on Highway 43 during the morning and evening commute. By 2035, traffic volumes during peak hours are forecast to increase by approximately 40 to 99 percent, depending on location.

We cannot build our way out of this congestion, but we can give people better options to sitting in traffic. Existing development and geography along the highway corridor make it impractical to widen the highway to accommodate more vehicle traffic.

Streetcar service would offer a transit alternative to Highway 43; most of the streetcar line would be separate from traffic. By 2035, travel times between Portland State University and Lake Oswego are forecast to be 28 minutes by car, and 29 to 33 minutes by streetcar. Enhanced bus service travel time is forecast at 40 minutes.

Streetcar would allow more drivers to drive at more convenient times – times that were previously too congested. Streetcar would reduce vehicle miles traveled in the Highway 43 corridor by up to 68,000 miles per weekday and decrease vehicle hours of delay by an estimated 400 hours each weekday.

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What are the benefits of streetcar?

In 2035, the streetcar alternative between Lake Oswego and Bancroft Street at the southern border of South Waterfront is projected to have ridership of up to 11,900, while the ridership forecast rises to more than 23,000 between Lake Oswego and Portland State University. Connecting Lake Oswego via streetcar to planned development in South Waterfront, educational opportunities at Oregon Health and Sciences University and PSU, and the employment and cultural center of downtown Portland is forecast to attract 15,000 more streetcar riders than the enhanced bus service alternative.

More people can move more efficiently, and produce less greenhouse gases, than by driving alone in cars. Streetcar will provide an opportunity to avoid Highway 43 congestion by offering a transit option in a dedicated right of way, allowing economic activity to grow and thrive in the corridor despite the long bus and auto travel times caused by growing congestion.

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How much will the region need to contribute toward this project?

Current estimates put regional contributions at anywhere from $20.4 to $86.3 million (including finance costs) in future year dollars (2017), depending on the option selected. The project is currently identifying potential funding sources, which could include system development charges, payroll tax revenues and other funding sources.

The project will seek a 60 percent contribution from the federal government. While the remaining local match would likely be 40 percent, much of that comes with the value of the Willamette Shore Line right of way that would be used for most of the project length.

Approximately $25 million is needed to complete the environmental work and project design and engineering over the next five years if a streetcar alternative is selected. The remaining local contribution would be needed during construction of the project, scheduled between 2015 and 2017.

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More answers to frequently asked questions

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