by: Submitted photo,

Despite the sweltering heat at Bridgeport Village last week, David Ruff stopped at an outdoor pavilion to look at the images of the proposed 14.7-mile commuter rail line soon to be constructed between Wilsonville and Beaverton.

'It's a good idea,' said the Sherwood resident. 'It's just going to be getting people to use it.'

Bonni Morgan, a Tualatin resident, expressed similar thoughts.

'I think it's great,' she said. Would she use it? 'Maybe.'

The open house was held between 12:30 and 2 p.m. last Friday - the hottest hours of the day. And still, within the first half hour, at least a dozen people stopped by to get more information about the Washington County commuter rail project.

Pre-construction activities have already started, said Joe Walsh, project director. A field office and a storage shed are built, and the engineers are waiting to get permits to begin work on bridges along the rail line.

'We're very, very close,' Walsh said, adding that work will first be done on the bridge spanning Fanno Creek between Allen Boulevard and Denney.

Completion of the project is expected in May 2008, with an opening date of September 2008.

The commuter rail line will stop at five stations - in Beaverton near the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and Highway 217, Washington Square, in downtown Tigard, in Tualatin where Tualatin-Sherwood Road meets Boones Ferry Road and in Wilsonville.

It will use a self-propelled rail car powered by diesel at an average speed of 37 miles per hour to transport passengers. The cars are expected to run every 30 minutes during morning and evening rush hours.

Planners project that by 2020, the travel time between Beaverton and Wilsonville by car will take 40 minutes compared to 27 minutes via the commuter rail.

'It's long overdue,' said Terry Whiting, owner of the Real Estate Super Store, which will be near the Washington Square station.

As he looked over the map outlining the stops on the commuter rail, Whiting said he was excited because he could use it to commute to work from Durham.

Especially, he said, when gas gets to be $7 a gallon.

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