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The Lake Oswego to Portland Transit Project

Metro’s travel demand forecasts predict that by 2035, roadway capacity along the segment of State Highway 43 between Lake Oswego and Portland’s south waterfront will be insufficient to meet regional travel demand.

Because existing development and other environmental constraints limit the expansion of vehicular capacity in this corridor, Metro is currently evaluating alternatives aimed at meeting forecasted demand.

What alternatives are under consideration?
No-build: The no-build alternative assumes the continuation of existing transit service and roadway capacity through 2035. Under this scenario, West Linn residents could expect a bus trip between West Linn and Portland State University to take approximately 81 minutes (including walking, waiting, and in-transit time) in 2035. The same trip made by private automobile in 2035 will take approximately 47 minutes. Metro predicts that by 2035, Route 35 will have capacity to serve 1,650 fewer trips in this corridor than will be demanded during the typical weekday.

Enhanced bus: Enhanced bus would increase the frequency of trips (approximately 15-minute headways) for Route 35, between Oregon City and Portland via Highway 43, and would also reduce the number of stops. Enhanced bus would operate in mixed traffic on existing streets and would be subject to delays from vehicular congestion during weekday peak hours. Metro predicts that by 2035, a trip between West Linn and Portland State University will take approximately 76 minutes using an enhanced bus service. Metro further predicts that by 2035, an enhanced Route 35 would serve approximately 2,890 additional transit patrons per weekday compared to the no-build bus service. The enhanced bus alternative would also include a 300-space park and ride facility near the Albertsons Grocery in Lake Oswego.

Streetcar: The streetcar alternative extends the existing streetcar service from Portland State University to the Foothills District in Lake Oswego. A streetcar would operate almost exclusively in dedicated (existing) rail right-of-way with fewer stops and more frequent service (7.5-minute headways) than enhanced bus. As proposed, the streetcar alternative would add a transfer in Lake Oswego for patrons moving between West Linn and Portland. Under this scenario, Route 35 would be reconfigured to provide continuous service between West Linn and Beaverton. A direct bus service between West Linn and Portland would no longer exist. Transit patrons in West Linn, destined for Portland, would either board a Route 35 bus in West Linn and then transfer to the streetcar near the Foothills District in Lake Oswego or, drive to a new park and ride lot in the Foothills District and board the streetcar to Portland. The anticipated total duration of each of these trips, in 2035, would be approximately 66 and 51 minutes, respectively. The streetcar alternative includes two new park and ride facilities in Lake Oswego totaling 400 spaces.

By 2035, Metro predicts that streetcar ridership between Lake Oswego and Portland’s South Waterfront would be approximately 11,900 riders per weekday. This alternative is forecast to attract 15,000 more streetcar riders than the enhanced bus service alternative (Metro 2011).

Commuters currently experience substantial congestion on Highway 43 during the morning and evening commute. By 2035, peak hour traffic volumes are forecast to increase by approximately 40 to 99 percent, depending on location. Streetcar would allow more drivers to drive at more convenient times as it would reduce vehicle miles traveled in the Highway 43 corridor by up to 68,000 miles per weekday and decrease vehicle hours of delay by an estimated 400 hours each weekday (Metro 2011).

Summary Characteristics of the Alternatives
Attribute No-build Enhanced Bus Streetcar
Miles of new streetcar alignment 0 0 5.9 - 6.0
New one-way streetcar track miles 0 0 10.5 - 11.1
New streetcar stations 0 0 10
Line 35 bus stops north of Lake Oswego 26 13 0
Corridor park and ride lots/spaces 3/76 4/376 5/476
Streetcar miles traveled (systemwide) 2,180 2,180 3,200
Streetcar revenue hours (systemwide) 267 267 326
Bus miles traveled (systemwide) 76,560 77,560 75,520
Bus revenue hours 5,300 5,400 5,210
Systemwide streetcars 22 22 33
Systemwide buses 712 725 704

Does the ridership calculation include the development of the Stafford Basin?
Less than 10 percent of the Stafford Basin population in 2035 was assumed to have walk access to a bus line that connects to the streetcar and none were assumed to have park and ride access. As a result, less than one percent of modeled Lake Oswego streetcar boardings originate from, or are destined to, the Stafford Basin area (Metro 2011).

What is the anticipated project cost?
Streetcar design and construction costs range from $380 to $460 million in future dollars (2017), which includes the estimated $100 million value of the Willamette Shore Line right of way owned by the region. The value of the right of way can be matched by federal funds.

The project budget varies from $51 to $460 million, depending on the alternative selected. Enhanced bus service has the lowest one-time design and construction costs, but has higher annual operating costs. Streetcar has higher design and construction costs, but lower annual operating costs. The streetcar will cost about $1 million less annually to operate and maintain than enhanced bus service (Metro 2011).

How will the project be funded?
Adjusted for 2017 dollars, the region’s contribution to this project will range from $20.4 to 86.3 million, depending on the selected alternative. This figure represents approximately 40 percent of the total project cost and is largely possible by leveraging the value of the Willamette Shore Line right of way. The remaining 60 percent of the project cost is expected to come from Federal grants (Metro 2011).

What feedback has the community provided about this project?
An advisory committee of local residents, business leaders and representatives from public institutions and community groups has been established to provide input to the project management group and steering committee to facilitate project planning and refine project options. A 2010 poll of Lake Oswego residents found that 67 percent of respondents favor streetcar service to Portland in the corridor (Metro 2011).

More information about the project may be found on Metro’s project page at: