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Metros Liberty addresses MAX safety in Woodstock appearance

by: , Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, addressing the S.E. Portland Rotary Club in Woodstock on November 19th.

Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, who represents Inner Southeast on the Metro Council, has been a familiar face at the McLoughlin alignment light rail station workshops he has been promoting, 'well in advance of need, when it can really make a difference'.

A recent attack on a MAX rider in the Rockwood area near Gresham has sparked concern for rider safety on the trains. Liberty was the scheduled speaker at the Southeast Rotary Club meeting in Woodstock on November 19th, and he was asked about the safety concerns the incident had raised.

He suggested that the phenomenon was indicative of special problems in Rockwood, and added that he was unaware of any indication that any form of mass transit is inherently any more dangerous than any other. He went on to indicate that he favors increased presence of TriMet security on the trains, and added that they could make good use of their time checking tickets, since reportedly some ride the trains without paying, believing they have little risk of getting caught. The penalty, if they are, is a large fine.

Liberty is on the committee that will actually decide what to do about the Sellwood Bridge, and he said that he favors a two-lane bridge on the existing alignment, no wider than 57 feet, which would make removal of condominiums unnecessary. He wants to be convinced that rehabilitation of the aging bridge is not the wisest course; there is a major funding problem if one of the more expensive options is chosen, since the federal government is unlikely ever to cover more than 80% of the work, and estimates for a new bridge now range between $200 million and $500 million dollars.

Metro is probably best-known internationally as the only regional government in the United States, and the first to establish an 'Urban Growth Boundary'. However, Liberty said, Metro is no longer unique in having such a boundary; by now quite a few areas have established their own Urban Growth Boundary.

The current Portland region Urban Growth Boundary encompasses 400 square miles, and has been added to from time to time - but Liberty revealed that the majority of development here is not happening at the borders of the boundary, but in sections of the metropolitan area which have been available for redevelopment for a long time. He added that he believes it is not necessary to redevelop in single-family neighborhoods to meet demand.

The talk occurred at County Bill's Restaurant, where the Southeast Portland Rotary Club meets every Monday noon, except on holidays. See: www.SoutheastPortlandRotary.com. The public is always welcome to attend.