March 13th, 2014 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Transportation

Tigard Voters Block Southwest Light-Rail Plan

news3_4015IMAGE: WW Staff

Tigard voters have thrown a spoke in the wheel of a possible new light-rail line through Southwest Portland to Tualatin.

Unofficial tallies from Tuesday's special election show Tigard voters passed a ballot initiative requiring public approval for any light rail or bus rapid transit project through the city.

The initiative has passed by 5,066 votes to 4,846 votes—a margin of 220 ballots—with all precincts reporting.

That vote, a victory for suburban light-rail opponents, effectively blocks regional government Metro from creating a Southwest Corridor High Capacity Transit line along Barbur Boulevard—a project that could cost as much as $1.6 billion and include drilling a second train tunnel through the West Hills under Oregon Health & Sciences University.

That plan is crucial to Portland officials. Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick both made fundraising phone calls to fight the ballot initiative.

“Do I have a dog in the fight? I’ve got a poodle, a schnauzer and a Great Dane," Novick told WW last month. "We can’t have a rational transportation system that’s not regional.”

Metro is already asking Portland to contribute funds to study the environmental impacts of that rail or bus line. The effect's of Tuesday's vote on that study—and its funding—still aren't clear.

"We're all trying to figure that out," Novick now tells WW. "I need to have conversations with our regional partners—mayors (including [Tigard] Mayor Cook), Washington County, Metro, TriMet—about this before I do any elaborating."

Hales' office declined comment today on the Tigard election results, citing Wednesday's police shooting and Friday's "State of the City" address as more pressing matters.

 
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