Thanks to John Cárdenas at the Portland Development Commission for providing much of the base information for this post.
This past week marked the MAX Red Line’s 10th year and 10 millionth ride. Transit ridership to PDX is up more than four times over previous bus service to the airport.
According to TriMet's page on the Red Line, the $125 million cost was funded by a public-private partnership of TriMet general fund (36%), Bechtel/CascadeStation Development Company, LLC (23%), Port of Portland (23%), and the City of Portland (18%). No federal dollars or new local taxes were used.
I was on the Planning Commission when this project was approved. There was much angst over the incongruence of the deal including an area of big box retail on a light rail line -- CascadeStation, pretentiously named with no space between the words. Although this shopping center has added traffic on roads in Northeast Portland, on balance the convenience and increased transit ridership on the train to the airport seems worth it. MAX from the airport is a selling point in attracting tourist and convention business, as I know from serving on the Visitor Development Fund board. I credit Mayor Vera Katz and her then-Chief-of-Staff Sam Adams for making the Airport MAX project happen.
The Airport Way urban renewal area has seen significant growth over these years, from an assessed value of $150 million to more than $1.2 billion. Over the past three years, the district has contributed $56 million back to the county, school districts and other taxing jurisdictions.
For more information about the Airport Way urban renewal area visit here
For more information about the MAX Red Line visit here.
It's very satisfying to see projects proving successful that I worked on as a community organizer (such as the Tree Protection Project), and during the seven years I served on the Planning Commission. Citizen participation coupled with leadership by elected officials can make a real difference in Portland.