Beginning in fall 2016, the Southwest Corridor Plan's proposed light rail line will enter a federally-required environmental review process to produce a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, also known as a DEIS.
Here are some basic questions and answers about the next phase of the project – and some ways you can be involved.
What is a Draft Environmental Impact Statement?
A DEIS is a detailed study of the positive and negative impacts that a proposed project could have on the built and natural environments, and also recommends strategies for minimizing or avoiding adverse impacts. The DEIS studies the impacts of the remaining light rail alignment options and also pedestrian, bicycle and roadway projects that could be constructed with the light rail project.
The environmental review will begin with a public scoping period in late August through September 2016. Detailed analysis would then begin by the end of the year. Release of the DEIS for public comment is anticipated for the end of 2017, with a public comment period in early 2018.
Attend an open house
Southwest Corridor Plan Open House
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, 6-8 p.m.
Wilson High School
1151 SW Vermont St., Portland
What is a “scoping period"?
A scoping period is the opportunity for the public and government agencies to provide input on what to study in the DEIS. The project team will release a packet of information that describes the:
- project’s background, including its purpose and need
- light rail, bicycle, pedestrian and road projects proposed for study in the DEIS
- types of positive and negative impacts the DEIS will assess (for example: air and water quality, traffic impacts, property impacts, ridership projections)
- environmental review process and timeline
Beginning in late August, the public will be able to comment on this information online, in writing or at a public open house on Sept. 22 at Wilson High School in Southwest Portland.
The scoping period specifically seeks feedback on:
- Has the project identified the right alignment choices and bike/pedestrian/road projects to study during the DEIS? Are there changes to the project Purpose & Need for the Southwest Corridor Steering Committee to consider?
- Has the project identified the right impacts to study during the DEIS? Are there additional issues or locations of concern you would like the project team to evaluate or consider? How should these impacts be studied?
Notice of the scoping period will be shared on Metro's website, social media, advertisements in newspapers and other media, and via the project's email list.
What doesn’t happen during the scoping period?
No decisions about final alignment choices or station locations will be made during the scoping period. For example, the decision about whether to run the light rail alignment on Barbur Boulevard or Naito Parkway south of downtown Portland will not be made during the scoping period. This and other final alignment decisions will be made after release of and public comment on the DEIS and will be part of the recommended Locally Preferred Alternative to be approved by the project steering committee in 2018.
What happened in the last phase?
From fall 2014 to June 2016, the project steering committee made several important decisions to refine the possible transit alignment options and selected light rail instead of bus rapid transit as the best high capacity transit mode for the alignment.
Alignment options removed during this phase included three potential underground transit tunnels to Marquam Hill, Hillsdale Town Center and the Portland Community College-Sylvania campus. Other adjustments to alignment options were made in and around downtown Tigard. The steering committee also set the preferred terminus – or end point – of the light rail project at Bridgeport Village, removing an extension into downtown Tualatin.
Project partners and public stakeholders also continued to refine the set of bicycle, pedestrian and road projects that will contribute to improving transportation mobility and safety throughout the corridor. Some of these bicycle, pedestrian and road projects will be studied in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, while the project partners will continue seeking funding opportunities for the other projects.
Read the Proposed Range of Alternative for Environmental Review to view maps that illustrate the decisions regarding the light rail alignment and bicycle, pedestrian and roadway projects during the Refinement Phase.
Learn more about the history of the Southwest Corridor Plan
What is the difference between the Southwest Corridor Plan and the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project?
In 2013, regional leaders on the Southwest Corridor Plan steering committee adopted the Southwest Corridor Plan Shared Investment Strategy.
The strategy identified five critical strategies for the corridor:
- invest in local transit service and high capacity transit
- invest in roadways and active transportation
- invest in parks, trails and nature
- consider new regulations and policies, and develop incentives to promote private investment consistent with community vision
- develop a collaborative funding strategy for the Southwest Corridor Plan
The strategy continues to be the guiding framework that local agency, business and community partners are pursuing to support local land use visions and improve transportation choices and safety for all users.
The Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project that will enter the federal environmental review process this fall will focus on the components of the Southwest Corridor Plan that are specific to designing and constructing a light rail project and those bicycle, pedestrian and roadway projects that are critical to providing safe and reliable access to the light rail line. While most of the work during the environmental review will focus on the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project, local, regional and state agencies will also continue to work on strategies to implement the comprehensive set of goals and strategies outlined in the Shared Investment Strategy.
How can I continue to be involved?
During the DEIS Scoping Period in August and September 2016, there will be online and in-person opportunities to provide feedback. Exact meeting dates and locations are being determined and will be announced via email, social media and on the project web page.
Throughout 2017, the project team will continue to reach out for input on focused project issues, such as station area planning. When the DEIS technical analysis is complete at the end of 2017, the public will have multiple opportunities to provide feedback and recommendations that will help determine the project’s Locally Preferred Alternative, which is the final selection of the light rail alignment, terminus and station locations.