To planes from trains without automobiles
Extensive East Portland bus route changes accompany the
Airport MAX "Red Line" arrival
The Mid-County MEMO
Airport MAX is here, and it’ll mean a whole new world for the Mid Multnomah county community.
On Monday, September 10 at noon, the new Airport Max “Red Line” line will open, providing direct service from a new station in the heart of the airport to downtown every 15 minutes from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week. (It will alternate for most of the route with the existing “Blue Line,” traveling from Gresham to Hillsboro over much of the same route.) Along the way the Red Line will serve the Gateway Transit Center, the new Parkrose Sumner Transit Center at Northeast 96th on Sandy Boulevard, and two stops in the Bechtel-Trammell Crow Cascade Station, a 120-acre office-retail-hotel-entertainment center adjacent to the airport. The Port of Portland provided the developers with an 89- year lease on the property in exchange for contributing $28 million to the 5.5 mile, $125 million light rail extension. The rest of the financing came from the city, the Port and Tri-Met. There was no special tax levy, and no vote.
Gateway and Parkrose transit centers are among six designated “quick drop” points where there will be places for motorists to drop off airport-bound travelers and their baggage.
Equally significant for Mid-Multnomah county residents are bus route changes that will go into effect the day before. The most significant is line #12; instead of going to the airport as of old, it will continue along Northeast Sandy Boulevard through Parkrose to Gresham.
Other changes include:
•Line 15 Belmont will proceed north along Southeast-Northeast 102nd to the Parkrose-Sumner station.
•Lines 20 Burnside and 26 Stark will combine and become 20 Burnside-Stark. The route will be along East Burnside Street west of 102nd Avenue, Southeast Stark Street east of 102nd Avenue into Gresham. It will no longer detour into Mount Hood Community College.
•Line 22 Parkrose will remain on its old route, in response to major community pressure, but it will provide service only once every 30 minutes during rush hours, every 45 minutes at other times.
•Line 23 San Rafael will also continue along its old route, but only as far east as 148th Avenue, with no Saturday service east of the Gateway Transit Center.
•Lines 24 Halsey, and 77 Broadway-Lovejoy, combine to become the 77 Broadway-Lovejoy. This extends from Montgomery Park in Northwest Portland to Troutdale, traveling along Northeast Halsey Street in East Portland.
•Line 71 60th-122nd, which proceeds east along Northeast Prescott Street to 122nd, and south from there, will stop at the Parkrose-Sumner Station.
•Lines 87 181st, and 201 Airport Way will combine and become 87 Airport Way-181st. Its route will include a stop at the Parkrose-Sumner Station.
Other changes are a fare increase due September 1, with two- zone trip costs rising a nickel to $1.25, and the opening of Portland International Airport’s Concourse C the weekend of September 15. This last will be the basis of the only official community celebration. There will be Tri-Met personnel on hand at the transit centers to guide people through the new system.
The Route 12 change, providing bus service on Sandy through the heart of Parkrose, worried some merchants when it was first proposed. The attitude now, for most people, is at least a willingness to try the service and wait and see.
Parkrose Business Association president Nancy Murphy says, “I think it will increase business and awareness of the Parkrose area. It’s one more thing to put Parkrose on the map and make us stand out. I’m delighted we have a station here.”
She does retain some concern about the Line 12 route and says, “I hope that with buses on Sandy traffic will continue to flow. On the positive side, it’s another chance for employees to get to work. Anything that will bring people out to the area is good.”
She adds, “I think the Tri-Met staff has been fabulous. I was at the hearings and heard people say how important it was to continue the bus lines (22 and 23). I think they really listened, and that they care.”
Parkrose Neighborhood Association president Ron Nelson says of the Red Line, “I think it’s great. That, and bus line expansion, will help bring a lot of business to the area, and help people in general move around. After we got approval for Line 22 to remain, staff was great, pretty open. They weren’t before, but they were then. The only problem I foresee is parking at Parkrose Station. The concern is people spilling over into the neighborhood. I’d like to see more monitoring of parking to see who’s using the station, and for what. If they’re parking there while they go to Seattle overnight, that’s okay. If they stay three or four days, they’re using up space that should go to others.”
Brian Ableidinger of Parkrose Hardware, one of the most concerned about Line 12’s impact, says now, “I still have concerns about it. I know how it’s supposed to work in theory; we have to see how it does in practice.” Of the new line he says, “Hopefully it will take some of the traffic off the road. I hope it’s profitable for (Tri-Met). Only time will tell.”
To the south, in Gateway and the Hazelwood neighborhood, some activists have a less positive view. Hazelwood Neighborhood Association president and Opportunity Gateway Program Advisory Committee member Arlene Kimura says of the Red Line, “It’s hard to say if it’s worthwhile in terms of area residents because I don’t think we’re the market. It’s clear we were not the focus.”
Also to the south, Gateway Area Business Association, (GABA) president Bruce Altizer takes a cautious view. “I’m an old military man,” he says. “You make the best plans you can, but when the action starts they go out the window.”
Tri-Met is already experiencing some of that. For instance, they have abandoned earlier plans for luggage racks on Red Line trains. “The focus groups we discussed it with said it was great - but they wouldn’t use it,” Tri-Met spokesperson Mary Fetsch said. People do not want to be separated from their luggage, especially in view of heightened airport security measures, she said.
Also, for the time being the train will not stop at Cascade Station because the hoped-for development has yet to be built. Fetsch says Bechtel is confident it will come, and mentioned REI, Nordstrom’s, Linens and Things, and Magnolia Hi-Fi as potential tenants. The train will stop at Mount Hood Station, at Cascade Station, adjacent to the airport, the last stop before the new terminal, because one of the promised new hotels is already in place.
Some Gateway and Hazelwood neighborhood activists have less than positive views.
Russell Neighborhood Association co-chair Bonny McKnight was even more critical. The new line “serves downtown people trying to get to the airport,” she told the Memo. “It doesn’t serve this area. People won’t get on a bus to get on a train to get to the airport.” As for drive-ups at the transit centers she says, “If someone in a car is going to drop a passenger off, they won’t go to a transit center, they’ll go to the airport as they’ve always done. It wasn’t done with this area in mind.”
That applies particularly to the CascadeStation development. “It will be an economic drain,” McKnight says. “Why come here (Gateway shopping district) you have a bunch of brand new trendy shops at Cascade Station?”
Other Hazelwood activists had mixed views. Gayland German dismissed the new Airport MAX as “a big waste of money.” Peter Deyoe tended to disagree. “It’s just a matter of their finding a market” for the service, he says.
Kimura and McKnight may be unimpressed by Airport Max Red Line, but they are truly dismayed by the Gateway-area bus route changes. Three of the new routes - 15 Belmont, 20 Burnside-Stark and 77 Broadway-Halsey, all of which used to serve the Gateway Transit Center, will no longer do so. A fourth route, 23 San Rafael, will no longer run east of the transit center on Saturdays.
“I’m very unhappy with the route changes,” Kimura says. “There are not enough service hours here. The only improvement is that there will be less traffic on Pacific.”
Tri-Met’s strategy appears to be to have people transfer from buses to MAX at 82nd Avenue, and this is “ridiculous,” McKnight says. “Tri-Met knows that forcing a transfer is a detriment. They’re throwing away Gateway’s competitive advantage, which was its transit access.” The result will also favor auto-oriented over transit-oriented development in the northern part of the district, the very opposite of community objectives, she says.
Fetsch points out that two of the new lines - 20 Burnside-Stark and 77 Broadway-Halsey - will have double their old service levels, with buses every 15 minutes six days a week. “There will be more service in The Gateway area,” Fetsch says. “It just won’t go into the Transit Center.”
GABA president Altizer is generally upbeat about the changes. Of Cascade Station he says, “It’s less of a concern to us than it is to Parkrose because we’re further away. Any time a competitor comes in it’s a cause of concern, but that’s what America is about.” Of the MAX line itself he says, “In the long term it will be a good thing for the community. Eventually the stuff we’re pumping out of the ground will run out,” and mass transit options will be needed. Of the route changes he says, “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
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