Kathy Newcomb is a Tualatin resident.

Our city of Tualatin has spent enormous amounts of money on consultants lately regarding transportation and related topics — almost $600,000. But we are no closer to reducing traffic congestion on Tualatin-Sherwood Road (TSR). Worst of all, we have no city activity adding effective local east-west public transit within Tualatin — specifically designed to reduce commute-hour traffic on TSR (and Tualatin Road).

We have two main ways to begin reducing TSR traffic congestion. First, as soon as possible, we must obtain land for a Tualatin Park and Ride on 99W — a basic need for an east-west bus loop. We are the only city from Portland to Sherwood without a Park and Ride on 99W.

Park and Rides are the heart of public transit. They serve as all-day parking places for autos and vanpools; they also serve as a hub for public transit, such as the No. 94 semi-express bus on 99W during commute hours. For an enormously successful Park and Ride, look at the north/south segments of the “Tualatin Park and Ride” — begun over 20 years ago, attracting Bridgeport Village and many, many commuters to the No. 96 and other buses. That should be a model for our west side on 99W.

Second, we must work with our regional Southwest Corridor study to plan effective high-speed transit from Portland to Sherwood. Southwest Corridor should include our “transit” plans from Tualatin’s new Transportation System Plan. However, the existing proposals (unfortunately recommended by our mayor and the mayors of Sherwood and Tigard) will not help Tualatin. Most Southwest Corridor maps show plans to delete our part of 99W as a high-speed transit lane. In fact, the proposals show no Park and Ride on 99W for Tualatin. Southwest Corridor’s plans at present include high-speed transit from Portland to Tigard Transit. That part is fine. But then a new high-speed transit is planned to leave the Tigard Transit hub, first moving south on Hall to Bridgeport — an unnecessary duplication of the existing No. 76 bus. Then this high-speed transit is proposed to swing south through Boones Ferry to TSR and then to Sherwood. Unfortunately, high-speed transit on TSR will not reduce local congestion. But a good express bus on 99W, a Tualatin Park and Ride on 99W and a local Tualatin east/west public transit loop would be a real achievement.

Why do we have such incredible congestion? One of the primary reasons is that our city has spent a lot of time, money and effort to bring more business inside the city limits — without providing for increased traffic at the same time. We have a population of about 26,000, and about 10,000 of our residents commute to Portland or elsewhere to work. But we also have 19,000 people from outside Tualatin who commute into our city. According to the Chamber of Commerce, most of these employees cannot afford to live in Tualatin.

Tualatin has an enormous business/industrial district called the “Leveton” district, named after its central street. Leveton, an urban renewal district, is bordered on three sides by TSR,124th Avenue and Tualatin Road. The district is about 65 percent full. Under our city’s current approach to fill up the Leveton district with businesses, we can count on more traffic congestion.

How do we reduce commute-hour traffic congestion on TSR? According to TriMet, the basic approach is to remove 5 percent of the single-occupancy vehicles. (Incidentally, we are 20 years behind Wilsonville in our city’s public transit support.)

If we do not get a 99W Park and Ride — even though financing is available in the Leveton urban renewal budget — and also an east-west bus loop, we need to put a stop to the increasing congestion. How? With a moratorium on additional businesses on Tualatin-Sherwood Road, and especially in Leveton.

The current traffic congestion is grossly unfair to the current business residents on Tualatin-Sherwood Road. It is a roadblock to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (and to Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center) when fire trucks and ambulances cannot make their way quickly along our roads. It is a burden to Tualatin residents and hard on regional traffic.

Let’s encourage all the members of our City Council to take action on an east-west local bus route and a 99W Park and Ride. Help us fight Tualatin’s growing problem of traffic congestion!


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