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New Questions Around Portland-Area Light Rail Project

A proposed rail line would run from downtown Portland, Oregon, to the suburbs. The budget has increased significantly, and many funding and project scope questions remain.
August 26, 2019, 10am PDT | Camille Fink
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TriMet

"Projected costs for TriMet’s next light rail project have increased by nearly half a billion dollars, creating a new budget gap that TriMet officials are optimistic can be addressed, but has raised alarm bells for some suburban leaders," writes Andrew Theen.

The planned line would be a 12-mile, 13-station route running from downtown Portland along a southwest corridor. The project cost has increased to $2.87 billion, an increase of about $462 million, notes Theen.

Officials in suburban districts say they will not support the project if the route is shortened or vehicle travel lanes are removed on Barbur Boulevard, a main thoroughfare, to cut project costs. Other options include eliminating some of the project’s park-and-ride lots or stations and using battery-electric trains instead of vehicles that require overhead equipment.

Theen says that the Metro Council has just $50 million of federal funds secured for the project. "The region will seek $1.25 billion from the Federal Transit Administration and will ask voters to contribute $850 million at the November 2020 ballot box. The state, city of Portland, TriMet and Washington County are all expected to contribute significantly as well, but the precise funding sources and firm commitments are still months away."

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Published on Friday, August 23, 2019 in Oregon Live
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