Light Rail to Forest Grove?

Now that I’m serving on MPAC, I’m making an effort to get out to various corners of the region and meet with local officials to get a better perspective on regional issues through a local lens.

I started with a trek out to Forest Grove, where Richard Kidd, who also chairs MPAC this year, is mayor. Forest Grove is as far west as our region goes, all the way to the end of the MAX Blue Line, then 20 minutes more on the #57.

When the West Side light rail was planned, the plans extended all the way to Forest Grove, but the funding ran out at Hillsboro. Mayor Kidd would like to change that.

He has a plan to do LRT from Hillsboro to Forest Grove on the cheap. Here’s how it would work:

  • Use existing ODOT rail right-of-way that parallels the highway from Hillsboro to Forest Grove. It currently only runs one freight train per week. He proposes that this freight service still be allowed to run on the LRT track.
  • Take old mothballed MAX trains (TriMet apparently has some) and refurbish them, replacing the current power plant with a diesel-electric one (the new line would then not need to be electrified, a further savings).

Of course the change in vehicle type would mean a transfer at Hillsboro.

What do you think?

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