PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Transportation officials are exploring the feasibility of constructing a MAX tunnel beneath downtown Portland and the Willamette River.
As a first step, Metro says it will determine which studies and resources they would need to bring the idea to reality. They are also hoping to collect community feedback.
According to officials, the potential tunnel would run from approximately Lloyd Center to Goose Hollow in southwest Portland and would help people get to all the places they want to faster.
40 light rail trains must currently cross the river and traverse downtown at the busiest hours of the day, which comes out to one train every 90 seconds, according to transportation officials.
“As the region grows and the demand for light rail increases, the region will need at least 64 MAX trains through downtown every hour, more than one train each minute,” Metro said in a news release. “Our current system can’t support that change.”
Transportation officials say the tunnel may be one way to address the Steel Bridge, which every MAX train currently crosses. The bridge was built in 1912 and can only carry one train at a time in each direction, and only at reduced speeds, according to officials.
“Slowdowns at the Steel Bridge and in downtown don’t just impact the central city—they ripple throughout the entire region, impacting people’s ability to get where they need to go, and impacting businesses’ ability to deliver goods and services,” Metro said.
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