With praise for a new approach to planning in the Portland region, the Metro Council voted unanimously Thursday to support plans for the Southwest Corridor.
The plans, developed through years of discussions with members of the public, community advocates and cities in the southwest part of the region, are the bones of what regional officials hope will be a robust body of development in the Southwest Corridor.
That area is a wedge of the southwest part of the region, roughly from Scholls Ferry Road in the northwest to Lake Oswego in the southeast, extending from downtown Portland to Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin.
The corridor plan's most talked-about item is its study of high capacity transit from downtown Portland to Tualatin via Tigard. Work is just beginning on the lengthy study, which will examine the viability, impacts and costs of building bus rapid transit or light rail southwest from Portland.
But while the Southwest Corridor work didn't put transit on a back burner, it at most left it simmering on the side. In a full boil up front were reviews of land use plans and aspirations and other transportation needs in the area.
The plan called for about $500 million in transportation improvements in the area, ranging from widening Boones Ferry Road in Tualatin to continuing work on the Red Electric Trail.
It also created a basis for cities to address zoning rules that could help make it easier for new development in the area, and prioritized parks projects in the eight cities and two counties in the corridor.
"This is a remarkably better way to approach how we do things in the future," said Metro Council President Tom Hughes.
Local officials praised the project in testimony at Thursday's council meeting.
"We're looking forward to what the development of the Southwest Corridor can do for us," said Tigard City Councilor Gretchen Buehner. Her city council endorsed the corridor plan on Oct. 8, one of seven city councils on the corridor to express support for the project.
Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette said the plan was exciting because it went beyond transportation issues, and looked more at community visions.
"I think what we're seeing today is one of the smartest things our region has produced," Collette said. "We put the whole planning process in reverse of what we usually do."