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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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