A Metro steering committee has decided that a new Southwest Portland light rail line will travel out Barbur Blvd. from downtown Portland to Tigard and Tualatin. A planned station at SW Gibbs St. (below the tram) is intended to serve OHSU and other Marquam Hill institutions that are located several hundred feet up a steep hillside with Terwilliger Parkway lying in between. TriMet and Metro have proposed a “Marquam Hill Connection” to get people up the hillside from the SW Barbur MAX station to OHSU. Three of the proposals involve a combination of above-ground elevator towers and bridges and ramps, most of which would be located in Terwilliger Parkway and will necessitate the removal of many trees and significant alterations to the park. A fourth proposal is to build a pedestrian tunnel under the hillside with an underground elevator to bring people up to OHSU.
Friends of Terwilliger is very much in favor of improved transit connections to OHSU, the VA Hospital, and other Marquam Hill institutions in order to reduce the number of commuter vehicles that drive on Terwilliger and other neighborhood streets. During the planning process we lobbied, testified, and provided written comments on the need for a transit station at Marquam Hill similar to the one at the Zoo. Metro’s analysis shows that Marquam Hill will be the biggest destination on the entire SW line, but they chose to bypass it and instead provide a pedestrian connector that will remove a section of Terwilliger Parkway. Metro and TriMet intend to acquired the land for the connection from Portland Parks and Recreation and bifurcate the parkway by cutting down trees and replacing them with urban structures of concrete and steel. The scenic canyon where this will occur has many majestic Oregon White Oaks as well as one hundred year old Douglas Firs and Big Leaf Maples, with framed views out over the city.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement that was released this summer described the proposals thusly: “The impacts to Terwilliger Parkway from the vegetation removal and ground disturbance will be long lasting and will result in a severe visual change to this park. These impacts cannot be mitigated down to de minimis, and the Marquam Hill connection is therefore assumed to be a permanent use regardless of the option selected.“ (The last sentence is EIS-speak for the fact that there is no way to mitigate the impacts or make them less noticeable.) Even the pedestrian tunnel option will require extensive tree removal in order to construct. All these options make the aerial tram seem pretty benign! The irreversible impacts and the loss of an important section of Terwilliger Parkway are unacceptable to the board of Friends of Terwilliger. Our mission has always been to protect the natural, scenic, and recreational qualities of the parkway. Our hope is that TriMet and Metro can find other options to connect light rail to Marquam Hill that won’t have as much impact on Terwilliger and that will not require the taking of any park lands.
Now the Portland City Council will be voting November 1st at 2 PM to endorse the route decision. FOT board members will be meeting with City of Portland officials to persuade them that . to let them know that they need to preserve this important location on Terwilliger Parkway and not give up any portion of it (see contact info below.) We also expect that we may need to hire legal help to influence the planning process as it heads into the Final Environmental Impact Statement phase. Any help – legal, financial, or otherwise – that you, the Friends of Terwilliger,
can offer will be much appreciated. There are a couple sentences in the Terwilliger Parkway Corridor Plan from 1983 that guides the work of the Friends of Terwilliger board: “Terwilliger changes as the landscape and the City grow. The quality of its future character will depend both on the effects of nature and the care taken by the citizens of Portland.”
Thank you for caring!
Ted Wheeler: firstname.lastname@example.org 503-823-4120
Dan Saltzman: email@example.com (503) 823-4151
Nick Fish: firstname.lastname@example.org (503) 823-3589
Amanda Fritz: email@example.com (503) 823-3008
Chloe Eudaly: firstname.lastname@example.org (503) 823-4682