Even six months late, WES to arrive on time in Tualatin

The Tualatin Development Commission approves $491,332 for 'betterments' to station design
by: Jaime Valdez, LATE, BUT ON TRACK — Officials from Washington County, the city of Tualatin and TriMet dig into the site of the future Tualatin commuter rail station during the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

TUALATIN - Tualatin's commuter rail station is finally making noise again. After a delay of about six months, construction of the Tualatin station and Park and Ride is underway.

Officials had originally planned to begin construction in July 2007. But TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said Tuesday that Wednesday's groundbreaking along Southwest Boones Ferry Road in Tualatin would not delay the scheduled opening of the commuter rail.

The Westside Express Service, a $117.3 million 14.7-mile commuter rail that will run between the cities of Beaverton and Wilsonville, has been in the works for the last 11 years.

But in January 2007, Haggen Food and Pharmacy representatives began stirring up public support for a better design of the proposed station, which will be built just to the east of the store along Southwest Boones Ferry Road and Southwest Nyberg Road. Haggen officials focused on traffic, parking and pedestrian-safety concerns.

After about five months of rallying residents to attend commuter rail open houses, Haggen representatives and the owners of the Hedges Green Shopping Center, Zian Limited Partnership, were able to open up discussions again with TriMet officials.

The trio of representatives presented a united front during the city's Architectural Review Board hearing in September. It was then that TriMet presented a new design for the proposed station and Park and Ride. The design included an addition of 44 more parking spaces for a total of 155 spaces for Park and Ride users and adjustments to the design's traffic circulation and to the station's entrance at Southwest Nyberg Road.

'It's taken us a little longer to get to this point, but it's a better project,' Fetsch said.

And the Tualatin Development Commission has earmarked $491,332 to make the station design even better. In September the commission approved funds for what it calls 'betterments at the Tualatin station.'

The 'betterment' plans include a clock tower and enhancements to the design to comply with the city's design standards, and provides a rail platform and shelter that will be consistent with existing architectural design elements of the downtown area.

The 'betterments' are enhancements to TriMet's basic design for the station. TriMet is overseeing the construction of five stations and four Park and Rides for the commuter rail project.

The last station scheduled to break ground is the Hall/Nimbus station in Beaverton. Fetsch said construction at that site should begin within the next four months.

The construction of that site should also not delay the start of operations of the commuter rail, said Fetsch.

However, conflicting schedules among city leaders will. The original grand opening date of Sept. 12, 2008, will likely be pushed back. The date was selected before officials realized that on that same date mayors in all four cities - Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville - are expected to attend a national conference.

Fetsch said TriMet is working to reschedule the opening day of operations for WES.