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New designs and safety features revealed for McLoughlin MAX line

by: David F. Ashton Neighbors examined the numerous drawings and illustrations at the April 25th Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project meeting in Sellwood regarding the planned Bybee and Tacoma Stations.

As plans for the forthcoming Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project design roll along, neighbors are getting a look at new station elements for the Bybee Boulevard and Tacoma Street stations. It happened at a April 25 meeting held at Sellwood Middle School.

50 people were on hand to examine dozens of illustration boards detailing every element of the two Inner Southeast Portland stations.

One of the staffmembers on hand to answer questions was Robert Hastings, FAIA, who is TriMet's Agency Architect. 'We're here to show the design elements that are really starting to give character and qualities - the look and the feel of these stations,' he explained.

Public meetings like this one are important, Hastings said. 'We want to find out if we're hitting the mark, and incorporating things people care about. We need public feedback.'

The main presenter that evening was the lead designer, Carol Mayer-Reed, FASLA, partner-in-charge of landscape architecture and urban design at Mayer/Reed. She, too, talked with attendees before and after her formal presentation.

'There are some interesting alternatives at the Bybee Station from what was presented last time,' Mayer-Reed told THE BEE. 'Regarding whether to go for more of a contemporary or more of a traditional style of architecture for that station was the question. I think that people will be pleased to see this going toward a more traditional design. I think we do try to take all the comments to heart, and it's good that we had such consensus in the last round, on that particular issue.'

Responding to safety concerns at the Bybee Station, Mayer-Reed pointed out that the ticketing machine will be up at the 'bridge level', not down on the train platform. However, she admitted there is no barrier preventing non-ticketed persons from descending the stairway, or getting in the elevator to go down to the platform level.

During the meeting, it emerged that there is a discussion of having closed circuit television cameras on both the upper and lower platforms, as well as the walkway under the bridge. 'People don't want to feel that they're in an unsafe place; public safety is very important,' Mayer-Reed said. 'We looked very closely at stair configurations for visibility - sightlines at the lower level, and between the upper and lower levels. We're trying to get eyes on the platform, to increase a sense of safety and security.'

The Tacoma Station plans showed how TriMet is refining the design, not radically changing it, Mayer-Reed pointed out. 'We're beginning to illustrate what will be involved in the station-area design, and a little more about the bridges, the station, and the platform itself.'

Because of budget reductions, Mayer-Reed conceded that the originally-planned large Tacoma Station parking garage is off the drawing boards. 'It doesn't mean that they couldn't have that back on the piece of land. But, it's tough to have all those on the project when the last round was way over budget.'

The challenge of having each of the stations meet public approval, Mayer-Reed added, is that, 'We have to look at this, corridor-wide. We're considering the look of eight stations along 7.3 miles of track.'