A Metro and TriMet-led discussion about future solutions for mass transit throughout Portland led to the concept of a tunnel under the Willamette River in downtown Portland. That concept has turned into an official tunnel study as Metro and TriMet explore the “feasibility of a MAX (light rail) tunnel under downtown Portland so more people can get to all the places they want to faster.”
The current issue revolves around the 1912-built Steel Bridge, which ties the Rose Quarter on the east side of the river to downtown core on the west side with only one train in each direction at a time. And at a slowed pace. With light rail connecting communities on both sides of the river, the busiest times of day require one train every 90 seconds and the congestion will only grow. The Steel Bridge is owned by Union Pacific Railroad and already carries more than just MAX light rail with Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains every day.