Portland commissioner believes COVID-19 will be fatal blow to TriMet project

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Officials in Portland, Ore., approved a contract for work on a new MAX line.

With COVID-19 tightening its grip in the U.S. and the economy suffering, Portland City Council Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty believes the pandemic is a death blow to a planned 12-mile MAX line that would connect downtown Portland to Tigard.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking the OK on a contract that would require TriMet to reimburse the city $1.8 million (or $75,000 a month for two years) on work on the 12-mile line that has been and will be completed. The money will be applied toward a Final Environmental Impact Statement and planning for the line. Some of the funding will come from the Federal Transit Administration. The projected cost of the new line is $2.8 billion.

Hardesty says due to the COVID-19 pandemic the MAX line is a pipe dream because of what the state of the economy will be in the next few months. The Portland Bureau of Transportation says now is as good of time as ever for the construction, which will put many people to work during the economic downturn. The Green Line was built during the 2008 Recession thanks to stimulus funding, and a $25 million grant helped streamline the Orange Line project. Dedicating funding for the MAX line now also could make it more attractive for future stimulus dollars.

The city of Portland may go to the voters in November to approve a transportation bond measure for the MAX line. Hardesty eventually voted in favor of the contract with TriMet.

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