"I-5 is slow through the curves" – six words that just about every Portland-area commuter is familiar with.
Daily backups on Interstate 5 between downtown Portland and Tualatin, and on other key highways like 99W and 217 between Sherwood, King City, Tigard and Beaverton, are a symptom of a much bigger challenge: Meeting transportation demands in a growing area of the region. Local communities also face a lack of safe options for taking transit, bicycling and walking.
Everyone who lives, works, shops or enjoys the outdoors in the southwest part of the region wants to make sure this area remains great.
That’s why residents, businesses and leaders in the I-5 and 99W corridor have worked together on a vision for how each town and neighborhood will look in the future.
The Southwest Corridor Plan includes many parts that together form a complete vision: Livable, affordable, economically thriving communities with reliable and safe transportation options for every resident and commuter.
What's in the plan?
The Southwest Corridor Plan includes:
- A new 12-mile MAX line from downtown Portland to Tigard and Bridgeport Village in Tualatin Learn more
- Roadway, bicycle and pedestrian projects to help people get to transit
- A strategy to promote equitable development in the corridor when light rail is constructed
- A specific equitable housing strategy for Tigard and Portland along the light rail line
- A Shared Investment Strategy for transportation improvements that connect the corridor’s communities well beyond the proposed light rail line
This plan has been created as a partnership of seven cities, Washington County and the Metro Council, along with TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Learn more about the pieces of the plan below.
Frequently asked questions
When will the MAX line open?
Potential alignments are currently undergoing a federal environmental impact study, with local jurisdictions scheduled to select a single preferred route in early 2018. If all regional and federal funding can be acquired by the end of 2020, the line could open about 2027.
Who makes decisions?
During the planning process, which started in 2011, recommendations have been made by the Southwest Corridor Steering Committee, appointed by Metro. The steering committee includes elected officials and mayors from Washington County, Beaverton, Durham, King City, Portland, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin and the Metro Council, as well as leaders from TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The steering committee has held frequent public meetings where they’ve defined the Southwest Corridor Plan and selected which transit options to continue studying. City, county and regional agency staff provide professional recommendations and information to the steering committee at their meetings. These materials are available and meetings are open to the public. See a calendar
After the steering committee recommends the light rail preferred alternative in early 2018, the elected bodies of Portland, Tigard, Tualatin, Washington County and Metro, along with ODOT and TriMet leaders, will each need to adopt the same option, to be submitted to the federal government for approval.
How has the public been involved? Can I still influence the process?
The best way to stay informed is to sign up for project emails. You'll hear about comment opportunities, upcoming events and documents available for review.
Since 2011, the public has been able to comment at steering committee meetings and Metro, TriMet and partner agencies have held events and attended neighborhood meetings throughout the corridor to gather input about key decisions. Several online comment opportunities have also received comments from thousands of people. In addition, Tigard held a vote in November 2016 to approve continued participation in the light rail project.
During the ongoing environmental review process, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will advise the Southwest Corridor Steering Committee on the selection of a preferred light rail route. The committee is a group of community members, appointed by the Steering Committee, who represent various stakeholders in the Southwest Corridor. They are neighbors, businesses, non-profits, drivers, cyclists, disability advocates and educational institution representatives. They are from Tigard, Tualatin, Portland and Lake Oswego. You can present public comments to the CAC at their meetings. Learn more about them here
When the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is released early in 2018, there will be a 45-day public comment period before the steering committee selects the final MAX route. You can submit comments on the document or to the steering committee. Comments and testimony to city council and Metro Council will inform whether those bodies adopt that preferred alternative.
A regionwide vote on whether to fund the proposed MAX line, along with other transportation projects, will be held in the future.
What else is in the plan?
The Southwest Corridor Shared Investment Strategy is the foundation of the Southwest Corridor Plan, approved by leaders in 2013. The strategy includes five interrelated recommendations to support community goals in southwest Portland and southeast Washington County.
- Invest in 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
Some projects from the strategy are already underway, funded and built by local communities or regional and state agencies. Others require further study or funding for implementation. Some will be built as part of the proposed light rail project. The plan also included the recommendation to study transit from Portland to Tualatin via Tigard.
How will we pay for these investments?
The Shared Investment Strategy is not a promise to build, nor a timeline of construction; it is a shared vision among local communities about what they hope to achieve together by focusing investments over time.
The strategy’s projects can only be built with a combination of federal, state, regional, county, city and private funds. To date, partnerships have used funds like these to complete many projects, including:
- the Tualatin River Greenway
- 99W and 72nd/Dartmouth street, sidewalk and bike lane improvements in Tigard
- SW Spring Garden Street, SW 19th Avenue and SW 22nd Avenue sidewalks and bike lanes
- crossing improvements on SW Barbur Boulevard at Alice Street
- the new TriMet Line 97 serving Tualatin and the Sherwood Town Center
- sidewalk and bike improvements on SW Fischer Road
- creation of an equitable housing and development strategy
For the MAX line and related pedestrian and bicycle station access investments, the Portland region will need to pay for half of the capital cost, and apply for matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration.
What other transit options were considered?
From 2011 to 2013, planners identified important locations to serve with high capacity transit and more than 60 possible ways to serve these places. By 2016, the steering committee had refined the choices to a handful of options, including several key decisions:
- Light rail is preferred. The steering committee responded to community input and technical findings and selected light rail instead of bus rapid transit for the corridor, in part because of its ability to meet growing demand in the future.
- Transit tunnels: The steering committee removed transit tunnels from further consideration: one under Marquam Hill, another under the Hillsdale Town Center, and one to the PCC Sylvania campus. They decided to focus instead on investments to improve transit, bicycle and pedestrian access from those locations to the light rail line.
- Terminus: The steering committee determined that Bridgeport Village was the most promising terminus for the line, meaning that it would not extend further south into downtown Tualatin.
- Serving downtown Tigard: The steering committee decided to look at two approaches to serving both downtown Tigard and Bridgeport Village: A “through” service that would travel to both places, or a “branched” service that would split into two lines, with every other train serving each destination.
Find more information on how these descisions were made in the project library. Go
How can this project protect housing affordability and create equitable economic opportunities?
The Southwest Corridor Plan has great potential to provide more people with access to employment, education and other opportunities along the light rail line and throughout the corridor.
By studying equitable development, including housing, we can ensure that all community members share in this benefit.
The cities of Portland and Tigard are partnering to create an equitable housing strategy to identify ways to build or maintain affordable housing with a future light rail project. They will work closely with Metro and Washington County to consider other issues that support a high quality of life for everyone in the corridor.
In addition, Metro has received a $895,000 grant from the federal government to develop a corridor-wide strategy for equitable transit oriented development around the MAX line. This effort centers on identifying the housing, employment and educational needs for the wide variety of people who do or will live in the Southwest Corridor.
What are the roots of the Southwest Corridor Plan?
Metro's 2009 High Capacity Transit System Plan identified the Southwest Corridor as a priority for additional transportation investment.
The Southwest Corridor Plan steering committee began its planning work by identifying the goals that communities in this area share for living, working and getting around.
The Southwest Corridor Plan was built around the local visions of each distinct community, including the Tigard High Capacity Transit Land Use Plan, Portland Barbur Concept Plan, Linking Tualatin, Sherwood Town Center Plan, TriMet's Southwest Service Enhancement Plan and Metro’s High Capacity Transit System Plan.
The vision for the Southwest Corridor Plan is to support, strengthen and connect livable and prosperous places from Southwest Portland to Sherwood. Four goals were established in the plan’s charter:
- Accountability and partnership: Manage resources responsibly, foster collaborative investments, implement strategies effectively and fairly, and reflect community support.
- Prosperity: People can live, work, play and learn in thriving and economically vibrant communities where everyday needs are easily met.
- Health: An environment that supports the health of the community and ecosystems.
- Access and mobility: People have a safe, efficient and reliable network that enhances economic vitality and quality of life.