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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.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(3) comments

David Oregon

With a possibility of a 6+ earthquake happening in this area, why the heck would you even consider this? It is the same way about all the high rises being built in downtown, Why?

kyle H

Yeah, this has all of the indicators of being a terrible idea for us all. They say the Steel bridge is such a major trouble spot tlat all light rail traffic must deal with each and every day. Let me just put this out there:. Just to give all a glimpse at some reality, if we are still capable of seeing it. Here goes.. what would be least expensive and be more likely to benefit this entire community in the future, what with looming thereat of "the Big one", etc. Building a tunnel to roughly run from Lloyd district to Goose hollow area? Or to build a new bridge that is designed to meet all the foreseeable needs of this growing community? They are publicly introducing the idea of tunneling all through downtown Portland, river and all, to meet the anticipated needs of a growing community rather than attempting to in some way mitigate the potential threats we in this community are well aware exist currently, should a natural event occur, which we know, clearly is only a matter of time before befalls us. It is Tri Met and Metro, who brought this idea to our attention today. It is those who are affiliated with either organization, who we should remove from any positions which are commonly thought of as positions of public trust, tar and feather them and put them on the very 'next thing smokin', send em on down the highway. Immediately, without delay. Do not allow them to utter even another word for they plant a seed regarding some portion of this idea that might germanate in the mind of some around here who haven't lived thru crappy ideas like this previously, who believe we've big government is the best plan for Americans, one and all. Otherwise, look out Portland, Oregon and surrounding communities, they are setting it up to take us all for a ride we likely cannot even imagine.., yet.

kyle H

I would be hard pressed NOT to comment here. This is a Tri Met/Metro plan which has been quietly suggested previously. Im certain many readers won't recall this but as the light rail system was extended west from downtown they (Tri Met and Metro) made all these elaborate assurances regarding how they were going to be on top of the fiscal side of the project and how carving into the side of that hill out along highway 26, near West Slope was going to be the simpliest way to go, etc, etc. Oops! Well, it seems all if the studies, engineering people, all of these high priced, highly skilled and educated professionals who consulted or otherwise participated in the project forgot, or simply overlooked the cematary which is located on that hill, has been there forever really, certainly since before Oregon became a state. In order to complete the project, which was well under way by the time they announced publicly that there was a problem, the only remedy was to obtain an order of the courts, in some cases over the highly contested objections of the posterity of those laid to rest therein, to exhume and relocate the remains of numerous individuals, which included a few unexpected surprises as well. The idea that anyone having any affiliation with either organization, (Tri Met or Metro) being trusted to come up with any activity or project that would be of clear benefit to the residents of the Portland metro area, as a whole, is absurd. Most certainly they will, probably already have invested plenty of money towards the most accepted way to intro the idea to us, the general public/tax payers who will, without doubt, be on the hook financially for any such project. Fiscally responsible, community consciousness is not any in the description of the character of either of these organizations. They want to dig a tunnel UNDER the Willamette river, which is and has for decades itself been known as a dumping ground for Zidell's, among many other big money organizations, and is supposed to be on the list of locations requiring the federal "Super Fund" clean-up. Not that THAT would appear to be any type of priority to anyone other than those of us who reside in this community and would like to take advantage of local resources, if it were not life threatening to do so. I believe this is an idea which was first floated amongst the two groups as a means to lift the financial obligations off of the corporations responsible for creating the deterioration of the planet, overall, and reassign it to we, the people, the tax payers who will become stuck with whatever financial burdens one could possibly foresee arising out of such a situation. I think, if it is the will of the people, to create such a tunnel and make the city so pretty and enhance the volume of visitors flocking to the Rose City, then first things first. Force those responsible for the "Super Fund" clean up to get busy, handle their obligation to those of us who have been subjected to all of the health and safety matters associated with such circumstances, the losses we each have suffered because of irresponsible corporations and greed, and once it has been certified that they have fulfilled their obligations to society in general, then - and. Only then, should there begin a conversation of visions and lofty ideas for how to proceed with developing Portland's future. To do otherwise is to continue being misled and set up and straight up lied to by the very person's we entrust to do anything except that. But at what point does a people, having repeatedly been subjected to such treachery, become responsible for again accepting officials at their word, upon their personal assurances that their interests lay with us, only to being revealed as the fraudsters they are? How many times is one to be considered a victim before he should become considered a co-conspirator?

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