Adrienne Leverette is a principal at Fat Pencil Studio.
Since early 2014, Metro has been leading a planning effort to establish a rapid transit line that connects downtown Portland with Gresham along SE Powell and Division. The outcome of the Steering Committee's work so far has been to establish Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as the preferred mode (over rail), and to express preferences for the proposed route. The route will start downtown, take the Tillikum Crossing across the Willamette, continue east along Powell and then along Division, continue to the Gresham Transit Center and turn around at Mt Hood Community College.
The dotted orange lines above represent parts of the route that have yet to be finalized. However, the project is leaning toward using the SW 5th/6th Transit Mall downtown, connecting from Powell to Division along SE 82nd, and using Hogan Rd as the N/S connection in Gresham. On Monday night, a meeting was held to get public input on options for the segment of the route along SE 82nd Avenue. I was eager to attend because we created a set of renderings for the project, and I was curious to see how they would be presented and received. In addition, I think BRT is a great idea—it is a relatively inexpensive, flexible way to provide rapid transit along an already congested route. And there is no doubt that attention to the quality of experience along SE 82nd Ave is long overdue. The surrounding neighborhoods and burgeoning businesses of the Jade District deserve better than an ugly, dangerous highway cutting through them. The renderings that we created working with designers at CH2M provide just a rough, conceptual idea of how the elements of a medium build-out would sit in the surrounding context.
I was impressed by the turn out for the meeting on a cold, rainy Monday night. There seemed to be a lot of support for routing BRT along 82nd, and a lot of interest in what the physical reality of that would be. I'm excited to see how the project moves forward. Metro says we could be riding BRT buses as early as 2020!
For more information, check out Metro's extensive and well-organized website that contains background information, resources and references relevant to the project.