TIGARD, Ore. -- A ballot measure in Tigard could have a big impact on commuters in the Portland area.
A proposed project to connect Downtown Portland to Bridgeport in Tualatin is still in its planning stages, but to keep things moving forward voters in Tigard will have to make a choice when they vote on Measure 34-255.
If you drive in the city of Tigard, it's not hard to notice the traffic. Brandon Edwards works in Tigard and deals with it every day.
“Every day I spend at least four hours on the bus, two hours getting to work, two hours back,” Edwards said.
“It's actually very, very rough to actually get from downtown Portland to here,” he continued.
That's why for the past 5 years, the city of Tigard has been in the planning stages to put a new Trimet MAX light rail through the city.
MAP: Path of the proposed rail line (from Portland, through Tigard to Bridgeport in Tualatin)
“Everybody knows that when you try to get to Portland from Tigard, you don't really know what you're in for on I-5 or 99,” said Tigard Community Development Director Kenny Asher.
Asher also said a light-rail line that goes through the downtown core would help revitalize the area.
People living in the city will have the chance to keep plans for the light rail moving forward or put the kibosh on them.
So what does a ‘yes’ vote on the light rail measure mean?
“It doesn't raise money. It doesn't raise taxes. It doesn't do anything financial for the project. It just allows the city of Tigard to be a participant,” Asher said.
The new light rail would either be built along Barbur Boulevard or I-5 and in Tigard it wouldn't use any existing roads. But what if folks vote ‘no’?
“A no vote on the other hand would pretty much kick us out of the project and maybe even jeopardize the project entirely because it is intended to connect downtown Portland with downtown Tigard and Bridgeport in Tualatin,” Asher said.
People we spoke with in Tigard had mixed reactions. Edwards said a new light rail would be beneficial.
“It would definitely get people to work faster, less congestion on the actual buses,” Edwards said.
But not everyone is so keen on getting a new line built.
“We already have the MAX that goes to Tualatin,” said Tara McLaughlin, who frequently visits the city. “It goes by every day from Beaverton to Wilsonville. So we already have a light rail."
Others say that while the measure doesn't add any taxes or fees, the funding is still unclear.
Asher said the city plans to get federal funding for half of the project and raise money locally for the other half.
“Those are decisions that will be made probably in 2018 and 2019,” Asher said.
If all goes according to plan, people would be able to get on the new MAX light rail line by 2025. Construction would begin in 2021.
Right now the project is undergoing an environmental impact review. A committee of community members is forming as well. Applications to be on the committee are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21.