SW Corridor Purpose and Need

Scotty recently had a great discussion about the importance of the Purpose and Need statement for a project.

Last week, the steering committee for the SW Corridor Plan met to discuss the draft Purpose and Need statement for the project. Here’s the agenda packet (PDF 4M) for that meeting. It contains both the draft Purpose and Need (beginning on p. 10) and a “Statement of Problems, Constraints, and Opportunities” document (p. 15).

Here’s the draft purpose:

The purpose of the SW Corridor Transit Alternatives Analysis is to identify a safe and reliable high capacity transit project that will support the land use planning strategies being developed by the cities of Portland, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood and serve the existing and projected travel markets in the corridor while connecting regional centers, town centers, local activity centers and the central city. The identified project will advance applicable federal, state, regional, local and the SW Corridor communities’ land use, transportation, economic development, environmental and health plans and policies.

The identified project will promote the continued success and creation of healthy and more vibrant communities in the SW Corridor in a financially responsive and environmentally sensitive manner.

This is followed by two pages of “needs”, which I’ll let you all read yourselves.

I like that it leads with supporting land use strategies and puts mobility after that. If I were going to change anything, I’d probably work to include active transportation in the purpose. It’s mentioned about halfway through the needs, but my vision of the corridor is one in which people can walk, bike, take transit and drive safely through the entire length of the corridor. I’d love if that could be articulated right up front!

One slightly startling line from the constraints document:

“OR-99W serves as an important relief valve for I-5, with signals designed to absorb I-5 traffic when incidents or construction occur.”

I wonder if that comes as a surprise to the signals engineers in Portland? It seems like we could probably do better for daily users of Barbur if we didn’t operate it in a fashion optimized for a handful of days each year.

So what’s your take on the draft? What are we missing that could come back to haunt us in five to ten years?

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