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Bus rapid transit may be narrowed to Division Street

The region's first bus rapid transit line may be along Division Street between Portland and Gresham, according to a recent Metro staff report.

That's a change from the original route studied by the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project, which envisioned the alignment following outer Division Street and crossing over to inner Powell Boulevard.

A recent analysis concluded congestion on Powell would prevent travel times from being reduced below current levels, however, prompting the steering committee to request a review of alternatives.

A report to be presented to the stressing committee on July 1 shows bus rapid transit on inner Division would be 15 to 20 percent faster than the current 4-Division bus. by making fewer stops — about every seven blocks instead of every two or three — and speeding up the boarding process. Buses would also get longer green lights at key intersections.

The report suggests bus rapid transit would improve travel times even operating in mixed traffic with little change to the streetscape on inner Division west of 60th Avenue, where the street narrows through a neighborhood busy with new apartment construction, restaurants and shops.

And the report says that project costs look "promising" versus the inner-Powell route, which would have required more expensive roadway treatments and considerable impacts to buildings and properties, particularly where the line would cross north to Division Street, likely on 82nd Avenue.

One unanswered question is which bridge the buses would cross to reach downtown Portland. The choices are the Tilikum Crossing and the Hawthorne Bridge. Using the Tilikum Crossing could require the construction of a new bridge over both Union Pacific/Amtrak tracks and the MAX Orange Line, increasing project costs.

Bus rapid transit is an enhanced form of bus travel that involved special buses and stations, dedicated lanes where possible, and other upgrades. It costs less to build than light rail.

The steering committee will consider the report at its next meeting, scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, at the Colonial Heights Building at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2931 S.E. Harrison St., Portland.

The committee is not expected to make any decisions at the meeting and the study will continue over the summer.

For more information, visit tinyurl.com/gog76eg.