What If the SW Corridor Started on the East Side?

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Extending the Yellow Line south to Tualatin should be considered in the SW Corridor Plan. It would provide a north-south rapid transit alternative to I-5, which is becoming increasingly congested. The line would extend 19-miles between Vancouver WA and Tualatin with at least 24 stations providing connections to rest of the transit system.

I propose it traverse the central city on the east side and south waterfront thus avoiding the slow downtown operation that plagues the Blue and Red Lines, and serves OHSU with a deep tunnel station similar to the one at the zoo.

Note:Building a tunnel for light rail is not necessarily more expensive than building it on the surface. Land values can drive the cost of surface construction to great heights. The 2.9-mile Robertson light rail tunnel through the West Hills, with one subway station, opened in 1998 at a cost of $184 million. That underground work would be about $290 million or $100 million a-mile in today’s dollars. Compare this to the 7.3-mile Milwaukie Line, now under construction above ground, costing $1.5 billion or $200 million a-mile.

Following is a brief description and map of the line.

Segment 1 – Rose Quarter to OMSI
This 1.7-mile segment could run on the surface along Water Avenue or on a structure above the UP Railroad tracks on First Avenue. It should have three intermediate stations at the bridgeheads for connections to all the eastside bus lines that cross the Willamette.

Segment 2 – River Crossing
This segment, with a new platform adjacent the OMSI MAX Station, shares the new Willamette River Bridge and South Waterfront Station with the Orange Line.

Segment 3 – Marquam Hill Tunnel
This 2.8 mile-long tunnel would have an east portal immediately west of the South Waterfront Station and a west portal at Burlingame. It would have a deep station to serve “Pill Hill” and a Hillsdale Station to provide a connection to the frequent bus lines on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.

Segment 4 – Burlingame to Tigard Transit Center
This 4.2-mile segment could run on the surface along I-5 and Barbur Blvd. It could have three or four stations. They would be at Burlingame, the Barbur Transit Center, and one at SW 72nd and Barbur Blvd. The line would enter the WES right of way at the Tigard Transit Center. An alternate alignment could be in a tunnel between The Barbur and Tigard Transit Centers with a subway station at PCC Sylvania.

Segment 5 – Tigard to Tualatin
The possibility of adding a 3.8-mile section of electrified track in the Portland and Western and WES rights of way in order to extend MAX south to Tualatin should be considered. MAX could possibly share the WES platforms.

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