On July 19, the Tigard City Hall was packed for a public hearing on the draft environmental impact study for the Southwest Corridor Plan. The federally-mandated study details the impacts and benefits of a proposed light rail line in the Southwest Corridor.
The 12-mile light rail line would run from downtown Portland to Tigard and Tualatin, ending at Bridgeport Village.
People also commented on the project staff's initial route proposal, which was publicly presented in March. Decision-makers will consider public input when selecting the final light rail route. They're accepting comments through July 30 at www.swcorridorplan.org.
Business owners, advocates, neighbors and commuters filled the room. People from across the region weighed in on the potential transportation investment.
This is what some of them said:
Ryan Sweeney is the owner of the Village Inn restaurant in Tigard.
“The plan currently calls for my restaurant to be relocated and I am adamantly opposed to that... Just so you know, it’s not just me who's concerned about it, we have over 300 comment cards and we've collected almost 1000 signatures within a couple of weeks... There are a lot of people in the community who are concerned about it and they don't want to lose their favorite restaurant.”
David LaPorte lives in Northeast Portland and commutes to Tigard.
“I live in Northeast Portland and I work in Tigard and if you put yourself in my shoes, my commute every day is putting my bike on the number 12, riding the number 12, 45 minutes to Tigard and then biking the last two miles to my office on Greenburg Road. And I can tell you that my fellow number 12 commuters and I were very excited for this project, they couldn't be here because they had to catch the bus home.”
Linda Monahan lives in Tigard.
“I do not support any further expansion of light rail in the Metro area and specifically Tigard. Light rail tends to support business and industry and not public transit users. Some may say that light rail is an economic development engine, I tend to think it reshapes a community... and drives up the cost of housing. If TriMet and Metro are committed to getting drivers off the road and on to public transit, then service, convenience and safety needs to improve.”
Lonnie Martinez lives in Tigard and is a member of Metro’s Community Advisory Committee.
“Transportation is an economic issue, it allows us to get to and from work, shopping, leisure, appointments, and others where we earn money and spend money. You know, economics. Growth is inevitable, we cannot escape it or its impact on our lives, unless we ourselves, move away from it and we are running out of places to move. I sit here today to voice my support for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail project.”
Matt Engen lives in Tigard, within a mile of proposed terminus.
“TriMet should embrace the same strategy they did with the Green Line when it terminated in Clackamas Town Center, and in that location, they included a transit police precinct. It anchored police resources at the end of the line, dedicated specifically to addressing issues in and around that location.”
Austin lives in Southwest Portland.
“I really do believe in this project because it will help, I hate when people say they're against it but they don't have an alternative...It's not like ODOT can build five more lanes of freeway on the I-5 and then that will solve congestion. It simply won't, look at Houston, Texas.”
Mark Rockwell lives in the Lake Oswego/Tigard area and is a patron of the Village Inn restaurant.
“The Village Inn was relocated once before to accommodate another transportation need, so they are currently sitting where they are, because they were moved once before. I think that is something we should not forget. This is a local business, a local business that has been around for 40-some years. It should not be treated like a punching bag.”
Carine Arendes lives in Tigard and is a member of Metro’s Community Advisory Committee.
“It's the right thing to do for a number of reasons. We need to reduce vehicle miles and carbon emissions. Humans with active lifestyles are healthier. We serve more people per dollar spent on transit than highway construction. And by planning today for transit tomorrow we work to benefit our future selves, our family members and our neighbors.”
Tim Esau lives in Tigard.
“I'm opposed light rail entirely because it just doesn't make sense for Tigard or this Southwest Corridor area, it does nothing to address our already onerous burden of vehicular traffic trying to flow through our area. I reject this anti-vehicular stance as a way to manage traffic.”
Chris Carpenter is the political director for the Oregon/Southern Idaho District Council of Laborers and spoke on behalf of construction workers.
“I'm not sure how familiar most of you are with construction industry, but they are long hours and they are often unpredictable hours… We're really focused on making sure that not only can they be at the job on time, whenever it is, but also they can get home and see their families as early as possible. We do think that the light rail, added in Southwest Corridor is going to help relieve a lot of that congestion that they face.”
Craig Hopkins lives in Tigard and is a small business owner.
“The biggest encumbrance to the efficient function of our business is traffic congestion… Growth will come, people will bring their vehicles and we will need to do with the money that's available to improve transportation, is to improve the systems that work, and that's roads.”
Debi Mollahan is the CEO of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Metro’s Community Advisory Committee.
“While the implementation of light rail into and through Tigard will not reduce our current congestion, it will help mitigate future congestion modeled into 2035. Without implementation of alternative transit options, congestion is modeled to change from our normal rush hour of 2 to 3 hours in the morning and the evening, to congestion 13 to 17 hours per day. That was startling to me. So doing nothing is really not an option and based on years of study, this project seems like the best option.”