As of June 24th, the local approval process for the planned MAX light rail extension from Downtown Portland to the City of Miwaukie is complete. Over a year of planning and public outreach work went into the formation of a new Locally Preferred Alignment (LPA).
Public and political support for the project is stronger than ever. The following advisory votes took place in the month of July:
Portland Development Commission: Unanimous support for the project by members of the commission board. Several members expressed concerns about businesses in the Central Eastside and in Brooklyn that will be displaced by the project, but these members still supported the overall project. Development Commission staff were directed to assist these displaced businesses in finding new homes within the Central Eastside.
Portland Planning Commission: Unanimous support for the project by commission members. Several members expressed concern over the decision to delay construction of a station at SE Harold Street. The Commission submitted a letter of support to City Council with explicit instructions to both the Office of Transportation and the Planning Bureau to develop a plan for how to fund a future station at Harold Street.
Portland City Council: A unanimous vote in favor of the project by Mayor Pottor and the other members of the Council. Commissioner Randy Leonard commented that this is an important project and that light rail transit is an important tool in keeping transportation affordable to working class people.
Metro Council: Metro President David Bragdon and the other members of the council voted uanimously to support the project. Councilor Carlotta Collette acknowledged that some residents in Milwaukie remain opposed to the project, but that there has been a fundamental shift in recent years and that the “heart and soul” of the city is strongly supportive of the project.
Officials at TriMet and Metro will now submit their findings to the Federal Transit Administration for their approval. If approved, construction would begin in 2011 and passenger rail service would open to the public in the fall of 2015.