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Metro planners: Downtown Tualatin station not worth it

Memo recommends scrapping idea for Southwest Corridor, continuing to study Bridgeport Village stop

FILE - The Westside Express Service (WES) commuter train, seen here letting off passengers in Tigard, could remain the only high-capacity transit service to downtown Tualatin. Metro planners have now joined Tualatin city officials in saying a downtown Tualatin station for the Southwest Corridor transit line should be scrapped.This story has been updated from its original version.

In a pair of reports released last Friday, Metro planners suggest dropping the idea of a downtown Tualatin station from the proposed Southwest Corridor high-capacity transit line.

The reports essentially put Metro staff on the same page as Tualatin city officials regarding the project. Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden, who sits on the steering committee for the Southwest Corridor, said in August that a downtown station did not appear viable.

The committee is expected to vote in December on where the line's southern terminus should be placed. A vote on whether to plan for a MAX light rail line or a bus rapid transit system is scheduled to follow in April.

Metro staff now prefer the idea of ending the high-capacity transit line at Bridgeport Village over continuing into downtown Tualatin, recommending the downtown station be dropped from consideration.

In a memo on terminus options, just 1,500 additional daily riders are projected from having a downtown Tualatin station, a 3.5 percent increase over the line's expected ridership otherwise. Meanwhile, the cost of extending the line into downtown would be about $105 million to $135 million, or between 7 and 12 percent of the project cost, depending on what mode of transportation is selected.

“As a result, the cost of a segment extending from Bridgeport to downtown Tualatin would be proportionally greater than its gain in ridership,” it states.

Additionally, the memo states, there is not enough money in the budget to pay for the downtown station, and the extension would do “very little” to alleviate freeway congestion on Interstate 5.

The idea of ending the line at Bridgeport Village received a more favorable review, although the memo warns that “the total capital cost of reaching Bridgeport Village would be at the top end of the expected maximum budget” for the project's construction.

Even if the line terminates at Bridgeport, the potential would still exist for it to eventually be extended into downtown Tualatin and possibly further. A summary of staff recommendations for the December meeting states the downtown Tualatin location "may serve as a good station on a future (high-capacity transit) extension."

The transit line was originally envisioned as going beyond Tualatin. Early on, Sherwood was under consideration as its southern terminus.

Downtown Tualatin is already served by the Westside Express Service commuter train, or WES. However, the train only operates at peak morning and evening times and does not run on weekends.

Tualatin voters passed a measure last September requiring a public vote before city resources can be used for a new light rail line. A similar measure was also approved by Tigard voters last year. The Metro-led planning process for the Southwest Corridor project has continued to move forward despite the votes.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with backstory on the transit measures passed last year in Tigard and Tualatin.