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MAX construction to cause delays, headaches for local riders

Crowded MAX commutes expected for two weeks

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Construction on a MAX light rail line in Portland will have a ripple effect across Washington County, causing major disruptions to MAX riders in Hillsboro headed into the Rose City.If you take the MAX to work each morning, you might want to find a different commuting option for awhile starting Monday.

TriMet, the regional transit agency, is warning MAX riders in Washington County about two weeks of big disruptions to their morning commute amid a construction project at the Rose Quarter MAX stop.

Construction begins Sunday, Aug. 21, as work crews replace switches, realign rails and improve the track bed near the Rose Quarter. That work will have a ripple effect across TriMet’s entire MAX system, especially in Washington County, according to TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt.

“Our biggest concern is in the reduction in capacity on the west side, between Hillsboro and Portland,” Altstadt said.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The two-week-long construction project is aimed at making the TriMet MAX system more reliable, TriMet officials said, but will cause major headaches for riders headed into town.The work will leave Washington County with less than half the number of Blue- and Red-line MAX light rail trains normally working between Hillsboro and downtown Portland, which will impact the morning commute for riders heading into Portland.

Trains running between Hillsboro and downtown Portland in the mornings are already full, she said. Many riders likely won’t be able to board the first MAX train that arrives.

"We are definitely asking folks to alter when they ride, in order to avoid that," Altstadt said. "We hate to say that, but they can carpool or take the bus or find other transit options."

Westbound commuters will see 40 percent fewer trains during the morning commute, making it a tight squeeze, as well, Altstadt said.

"During this time, we expect trains to be very crowded during commuting hours," Altstadt said. "We are asking riders to plan at least an extra 30 to 45 minutes for trips and consider altering trips to travel outside of rush hours."

As part of construction plans, TriMet will temporarily close the Rose Quarter, Convention Center and Northeast Seventh Avenue MAX stops in Portland, with shuttle buses providing service in that area.

The construction project is expected to finish up Sept. 3.