Since 2022, Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) have been working with a steering committee of representatives from local agencies, businesses and communities to study travel on the west side of the Portland region. The Westside Multimodal Improvements Study launched in response to Washington County business requests of former Gov. Kate Brown to address transportation issues in this area.
The committee, alongside a technical project team, looked at potential strategies to address safety, social equity, climate impacts, mobility and reliability for people and freight in the Westside Corridor. The corridor, including the areas around the Sunset Highway from Hillsboro through the Vista Ridge Tunnel, is one of Oregon’s major economic centers, and home to about 90,000 people and 124,000 jobs.
“We know that travel in the westside corridor must improve and that a multimodal solution is needed," said Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González. "I am proud of the steering committee’s collaboration to identify a variety of strategies that can address safety, congestion and access."
“Most importantly, we are coming together to identify the needed investments in our infrastructure to support future growth and prosperity,” said González.
In addition to extensive transportation analysis, the study included focus groups led by community-based organizations in multiple languages and outreach to westside businesses.
“We heard about a variety of challenges,” said Brendan Finn, director of ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office. “Community members experience limited transit options, safety concerns and inadequate access for walking and biking. Business representatives told us that congestion is impacting the flow of goods, worker commutes and safety along key freight routes. They want to see solutions.”
The study analyzed over 80 transportation projects, policies and programs that could help improve existing and future transportation deficiencies in the westside corridor. These include investments in high-frequency and high-capacity transit, shuttles and circulators, park-and-ride centers, closing gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian networks, and other strategies.
Additionally, the committee expressed interest in studying the effect of tolling to manage congestion and demand on U.S. 26. The committee recommended conducting a study of tolling paired with strategic capital investments, including improving bottlenecks at the U.S. 26 and Interstate 405 interchange and safety improvements and widening on Cornelius Pass Road, which is a major connection between the Tualatin Valley and Columbia County. The study found that tolling could be an effective tool to reduce congestion and improve safety when combined with other transit and corridor improvements.
“I want to assure our community we are a long way from beginning any tolling,” said González. “If tolls are part of the final package of strategies, then that revenue will need to be reinvested in improving travel in this corridor by making focused and balanced investments.”
The steering committee is expected to make its final recommendation in the coming couple of months. The final report from the study will include recommendations for further analysis and implementation and will also identify lead agencies. Funding will be needed to advance the study’s recommendations.
“Before we actually see these improvements on the ground, there remains a lot of work to be done,” added González. “This includes ongoing engagement with Washington County communities and business. I look forward to the conversations and work ahead.”
Learn more about the Westside Multimodal Improvements Study.