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Haggen continues to fight location of rail station

The Tualatin Architectural Review Board will hold a public hearing April 4 on the commuter rail station design

TUALATIN - The concerns brought up by representatives of the Tualatin Haggen Food and Pharmacy store have been boiled down to one main issues - parking.

The worst-case scenario for the commuter rail station, as Haggen representatives see it, is a sea of parked cars. They envision motorists trolling the 111-lot TriMet commuter rail Park and Ride looking desperately for a spot. And with the impending sound of the commuter train coming down the tracks, Haggen representatives believe they know exactly what will happen. Commuter rail riders will park their cars all day in the grocery store's 50 parking spots.

It's called 'spillover parking,' and it's actually something TriMet was expecting, according to its 2001 environmental assessment. But in a traffic and parking analysis conducted by The Transpo Group, which was hired by Haggen, the numbers used and produced by the assessment reportedly failed to realistically portray just how much traffic and parking the Tualatin commuter rail Park and Ride will produce.

The Transpo report points out that for the 740 people expected to board the commuter rail in Tualatin, TriMet has planned a station that can only park 111 cars.

Using TriMet's estimate of 740 riders with 33 percent driving to the Park and Ride and a 20 percent turnover rate for those who are simply dropped off, Transpo's analysis states that the station actually needs 195 parking spaces. If the number of motorists increases to half of the riders, the number of parking spaces needed is 296 spaces.

'Once again we think (TriMet) has clearly missed the mark on their own estimated demand,' said Transpo President Bruce Haldors.

And with comments from TriMet's own public hearing section of the assessment where residents repeatedly stated that the region has done a poor job on predicting the needed capacity for Park and Rides, Haldors believes that the Tualatin commuter rail station will be just another example of poor planning.

TriMet's proposed commuter rail station and Park and Ride will be positioned parallel to Boones Ferry Road and right next door to Haggen.

'We are not naïve enough to swallow TriMet's line,' read an informational flyer distributed by Haggen representatives Tuesday evening. 'We all park as close to our destination as possible. Signage and information will not deter commuters from taking parking spaces in Haggen's lot that are closer to the station.'

But while Haldors was speaking to Haggen supporters in the senior hall at Tualatin High School Tuesday evening, TriMet representatives were less than 100 feet away holding an open house and providing some of their own answers to residents' concerns.

TriMet officials could not comment on Transpo's latest traffic analysis since they hadn't officially seen the report yet, said TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch.

As far as 'spillover parking' taking over Haggen's lot, TriMet officials repeatedly told concerned residents that the agency is pursuing measures to offset parking problems. The agency has reportedly offered to construct a fence between the grocery store's lot and the Park and Ride lot, post signs warning commuter rail riders that their cars could be towed if they park in the Haggen's lot and perhaps even provide a person to monitor the lots.

Signs at the Park and Ride would also direct motorists to other Park and Ride lots in the city that could eventually be connected to the commuter rail station via bus. Those lots include the Mohawk Park and Ride near Sagert Street and a lot along Lower Boones Ferry Road near the I-5 interchange.

Haldors, however, had noted that in the Tualatin Development Code, bus transit lines on Boones Ferry Road were not available because of geometric constraints, namely the lack of right of way for a bus stop.

But according to TriMet's bus planner Tom Mills, TriMet is talking about rerouting bus line No. 76 and moving it so that it would swing by the commuter rail station along Boones Ferry Road. As far as the right of way needed for a pull over and bus stop, Mills said TriMet would talk with Portland and Western Railroad about using some of its right of way for a bus stop closer to the Boones Ferry and Tualatin roads intersection.

The commuter rail project, a $117.3 million 14.7-mile commuter rail line that stretches between Beaverton and Wilsonville, has been in the works for the last 10 years and just broke ground in October. TriMet officials expect the rail to open in late 2008.

The Tualatin station project is still in the land-use and architectural review stage. The Tualatin Architectural Review Board will hold a public hearing and meeting April 4 at 7 p.m. at the Tualatin Police Station conference room. The board will hear testimony on architectural features, including landscaping, parking, lighting, station design, circulation and pathways.

Haggen representatives plan to continue what they call an informational campaign to rally residents in asking for an alternative site for the Tualatin station.