How should light rail or bus rapid transit connect to downtown Tigard? Should there be one stop or two in the Tigard Triangle? Should rapid transit serve Tualatin? Should light rail tunnels or bus rapid transit connect to Portland Community College's Sylvania campus, or is another connection better?
With these questions weighing on the minds of decision-makers in the Southwest Corridor, project planners hope people who live, work and travel between Southwest Portland, Tigard and Tualatin will contribute their thoughts in the coming weeks.
On Monday, Metro launched an new online comment map seeking that input. Users can click around the map to learn about route options and share feedback to help decide which ones to keep on the table.
Go to the map
It's an online continuation of the active conversation at a community forum Monday in Tigard, where nearly every seat was filled by somebody with a unique take on the project.
Though he serves on the Tigard City Council, Marland Henderson attended the event as a spectator, curious about the options being considered for the PCC Sylvania section of the corridor.
“I’m all about the kids, because this project will really be for them and later generations,” Henderson said. “And rapid transit is pretty much a must for this part of the region – maybe not today, but certainly in the future as we see a lot of growth come to the region. We’ve got to have mobility, whether it’s bus or light rail.”
One of the younger attendees that night, Southwest Portland resident Nick Hartman came to the forum with more near-term concerns, hoping to learn more about how the various options might impact his and his girlfriend’s commutes to jobs in Lake Oswego and Northwest Portland.
“We live right along one of the proposed routes, near Coronado and SW 53rd,” Hartman said. “We rent now, and we were thinking about buying it from the landlord, but we wanted to find out more about the project and how it will change the road right outside our front door.”
Ray and Gigi Jones, who have lived in Tigard for just over 33 years, came with plenty of skepticism about the certain aspects of the project, specifically the choice between bus rapid transit and light rail.
“I don’t mind the idea of light rail, but I definitely think it’s the wrong choice for Tigard and for this project in general,” Ray Jones said. “I think getting the funding would be huge issue, and I think it’s not as flexible as the bus option."
"We’re retired and on a fixed income now – and I hated hearing old folks say this when I was young, and now here I am doing it, too – but I have to think about how the cost will impact us," he added.
“We do have to think about small businesses in Tigard, as well,” Gigi Jones said. “I’m worried about the construction interrupting their business or even causing them to have to move elsewhere.”
Susan Christenson, a resident of Tigard for 23 years, said she had been following the Southwest Corridor Plan from the beginning, volunteering as a representative for Southwest Portland’s branch of the Citizens Coalition for Social Justice. The plan could support the coalition's work improve elderly residents’ access to medical care and other services, Christenson said.
“We’re trying to find faster and more reliable ways to get our rapidly aging population to medical centers like Kaiser Permanente and OHSU," she said. "But it’s not just about healthcare: there’s just so much you can’t do in this part of the region without getting in your car or riding on the bus for hours. I have relatives in Portland, I have grandkids in Gresham, and it can take over an hour just to get out there.
"Lately I’ve been asking people, ‘How much more time could you be spending with your family if you weren’t sitting in a car for hours?'” she added.
Later in the evening, Tigard Mayor John Cook, TriMet capital projects director Dave Unsworth, Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen and Metro planner Brian Harper engaged in a panel discussion about the project.
“What we’re looking at are choices, costs and benefits,” Unsworth said. “This region is probably not going to build another I-5, or another Highway 217, so for us it’s about conservation of roadways and connecting the dots by getting people to where they need to go as comfortably as possible.”
Cook touched on the impact this project will have on Tigard’s growth in the years to come. “How this all moves forward will have a lot to do with downtown Tigard, so we’re hoping to use this project to capitalize on some other projects we have planned," Cook said. "For me, it’s finding out what everybody wants. As for the choice between modes and routes, I think it’s like vegetables: whether you want broccoli or carrots is up to you, I just want to see them get eaten.”
On Jan. 11, the Southwest Corridor Plan Steering Committee – elected officials and top leaders from the corridor's seven cities, Washington County, the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet and Metro – will decide which Tigard and Tualatin options to keeping studying, and where the rapid transit line's southern end should be. In February, they will make a decision about whether the line should be light rail or bus rapid transit, and decide how the line should serve PCC Sylvania.
The comment map is available through Nov. 20.
Go to the map
Craig Beebe contributed to this story.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect the rescheduling of the Southwest Corridor steering committee originally scheduled on Dec. 14.