There’s a good reason why everyone’s been focused on Seattle’s Viaduct closure: the project, and the resulting traffic issues, has created slower commutes, logjams on surface streets, and considerable angst among Seattle drivers...and there’s still one more week to go!
Now Portland (which already has its own commuting challenges) is bracing for its own traffic mess in the coming weeks, thanks to its own major transportation construction project. A half-mile section of Portland’s MAX light rail commuter train tracks are scheduled to be fixed during a two-week span, starting Sunday, May 8. The $2.1 million project will focus on First Avenue downtown, where some of the oldest tracks are located. The goal is to improve drainage in an area that flooded MAX trains last fall, leaving them out of service for weeks.
While the improvements are needed, the result will likely mean crowded trains and major delays during construction. With travel times expected to increase by an additional 30-45 minutes per trip, TriMet took the unusual step of asking its riders to think long and hard before buying a monthly pass for May – even tweeting: “Expect extremely crowded, less frequent trains and longer trips—consider this if you plan on buying a May monthly pass.” Instead of taking the train, TriMet suggests finding alternate ways to commute such as bus, bike, driving, or working from home if possible.
Construction is expected to wrap up May 21. But unfortunately, it’s still not likely to be a smooth ride for commuters even after this project is finished: More MAX repairs are expected in the Rose Quarter and over the Steel Bridge over the next couple of years.
(Photo above by Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0)