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Tigard sets sights on MAX

City selects seven areas where high-capacity transit could grow with city

TIGARD - The city is taking the next step in the long process that could result in a MAX light rail line running through town.

The city has identified seven areas across the city where it believes high-capacity transit might one day come.

Those areas - which stretch from Washington Square to King City - were presented to the public Wednesday, May 25 in a special workshop to get public feedback on potential 'station communities.'

'It was a great session,' said Judith Gray, senior transportation planner for the city. '…We asked people to look at what kinds of characteristics we need to not only make transit work but how the city needs to grow.'

The line is expected to run from Portland to Sherwood via Pacific Highway but decisions about the actual kind and alignment of high-capacity transit are not expected until 2015.

Members of the public and the city's citizen advisory committee for high-capacity transit examined the potential stops, and what the city would need to do to prepare the areas for increased growth over the next several years.

Planning for growth is important, because the Portland metropolitan area is expected to gain up to 1 million or more people over the next 50 years.

For Tigard, that could mean a population of 100,000 people by that time, and with little room to grow outward, the city is looking to find different ways of dealing with the expected population.

It'll take a bit of redevelopment to get the city ready for that future, and city officials have said that high capacity transit will play a major role.

The stations are far from official, and Tigard's Redevelopment Project Manager Sean Farrelly said he expects only about three or four of the station areas identified to eventually be turned into transit stops.

'High-capacity transit has to come through Portland,' Farrelly said. 'That will determine a lot of where the stations go as well.'

The seven areas have the characteristics the city would like to see in a transit stop, Gray said. Those include a mix of residential and commercial businesses, access to other parts of the city (such as other TriMet transit centers in downtown Tigard and Washington Square) and the potential for growth over the next several years.

While each of the seven station areas differ in size and makeup, Gray said that many of the people who attended last week's meeting had similar thoughts on how the areas should grow.

'There was a lot of interest in having some kind of community focal point or node,' she said. 'Even though there are areas that are single family residential neighborhoods, having a place to gather for shopping or coffee is something that we heard about.'

These focal points aren't necessarily huge strip malls, Farrelly said.

'Just something that you can get your basic services,' he said.

Improving pedestrian connections is also important, Farrelly said. 'There are some places that don't have sidewalks. We want to make it easier to get from a person's house to a node. Not everybody wants to live right next to it, but they do want it within walking distance.'

Whether it's MAX that eventually comes to Tigard or some other form of high-capacity transit, the decision is is still years away.

High-capacity transit has meant MAX light rail for most of the previously identified corridors, but it could mean rapid bus line or other method of getting many people to and from downtown Portland quickly, such as commuter rail or rapid streetcar.

The public feedback will become part of the city's High-Capacity Transit Land Use Plan, which forms the foundation for Metro's $2 million study on which form of high-capacity transit the city will receive.

Where would they go?

While decisions about stations won't be made for many more years, the city has identified seven areas that could receive high capacity transit.

- Washington Square

- Southwest Scholls Ferry Road at 121st Avenue

- The Tigard Triangle (between Interstate 5 and Highway 217)

- Downtown Tigard

- Pacific Highway at Southwest Gaarde Street and Southwest McDonald Street

- King City

- Bridgeport Village