Planning for the Powell-Division bus rapid transit line is in progress. The next meeting is March 16 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Rockwood 7th Day Adventist Church, <a href=

Planning for the Powell-Division bus rapid transit line is in progress. The next meeting is March 16 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Rockwood 7th Day Adventist Church, 1910 S.E. 182nd Ave. in Gresham.

A steering committee of officials and community representatives are seeking public comments about a proposed route for a rapid bus line running for 15 miles along Southeast Powell Boulevard and Southeast Division Street. Called the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project, the rapid bus would travel down Southeast Powell Boulevard and, at some still-undecided point, would switch over to Southeast Division Street for the remainder of the route.

TriMet’s #9 Powell bus and its #4 Division bus are the two busiest lines in the whole TriMet system, according to Dana Lucero, public involvement specialist for Metro. “Thousands of people ride those lines every day right now,” Lucero said. “This project is looking for opportunities to make that ride faster and more convenient for those that ride it now and potentially, because of this quicker trip, even draw more people out of their cars and give them a chance to take that trip on transit instead.”

Over the next year, the steering committee will review public comments about various options for the line. The committee decided last September that the route should switch over from Powell at some point because Division becomes wider as Powell becomes narrower just after 82nd Avenue.

The current question they are asking the public is where the bus should cross over to Division. Among the choices suggested so far are Southeast Cesar Chavez Boulevard, 50th, 52nd, 82nd or 92nd Avenues.

People have until March 4 to comment online about this particular question regarding the route. To post your comment, please visit Click on the map after accessing the site. In the future, other questions will be presented for public comment, as well as past remarks from citizens, on that same website.

The committee, chaired by two Metro councilors, has met for the past year. Composed of elected officials from Portland, Gresham and Multnomah County, as well as Representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation and TriMet, the committee also includes State representatives Shemia Fagan and Jessica Vega Pederson. Over half of the members are community representatives from neighborhood associations, environmental justice organizations, businesses and educational institutions.

The committee welcomes comments from the public at the beginning of each of its meetings.

The next meeting is planned for March 16 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Rockwood Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1910 S.E. 182nd Ave. in Gresham. The committee sponsors one of a series of open houses to receive public comments and explain more details of the project on March 10 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Cleveland High School, 3400 S.E. 26th Ave. in Portland.

Dozens of other cities have bus rapid transit lines, including Eugene and Seattle. The concept includes using larger buses that can carry more people. “They have an easy way to get on and off, so they pull up to a platform,” Lucero said. “These will pull up and there will just be flat entry so people in mobility devices or with strollers can just get right on quickly.”

There will be methods for buying tickets before boarding the bus so getting on and off will be quicker.

“Right now, the buses stop about every two blocks,” she said. “The distance will be greater between those transit stops, probably something less than half a mile apart. So at any point along the alignment you’re really only a quarter mile from the closest BRT station.”

The rapid bus in Eugene has its own lane that cars cannot drive in; however, the Vancouver rapid buses will run on regular car lanes.

Planners are conceiving the line as an “educational route” because it is designed to stop at several major educational institutions. Starting at Portland State University and Oregon Health Sciences University on the west, the bus would cross the river, passing Portland Community College’s work force CLIMB center on Southeast Waterfront Avenue, then PCC’s Southeast campus on Southeast 82nd and Division and Warner Pacific College’s education center near I-205, finally ending up at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

Engineering of the project could start as soon as the end of 2015, with construction beginning as early as 2018. The line could be in operation by late 2020.

The federal government will collaborate with Metro and the cities of Portland and Gresham on the project, which is required to go through an environmental review and permitting process. The project’s cost is unknown, but the committee should have a sense of the cost sometime in March.