Portland, Oregon’s beloved MAX light rail has a couple of issues when it hits the city’s downtown core: short city blocks (great for walking) limit the length of the trains and necessitate frequent stops. All this while the city’s population continues its upward trajectory and more and more riders are hoping to hop on. One solution? Build a subway.
At a recent meeting of the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, city planners outlined a conceptual proposal for a subway tunnel linking central downtown with the area near the Oregon Convention Center across the Willamette River. Barely a squiggle on the map of proposed projects, the tunnel idea is far from a concrete plan, however, and would likely take three or four more decades before becoming reality.
On a shorter timeline are other projects aimed at increasing the efficacy of existing infrastructure, including extending MAX lines to other cities like Vancouver and Oregon City, as well as revamping Portland’s famous Steel Bridge.
"At this point, planners are in the brainstorming phase, and there are a lot of ideas on the table," said Tia York, spokeswoman for Portland’s transit authority, in an email to OregonLive. "Our hope is to develop concepts that will integrate with transit technology that will be available in 2040 and beyond."