The Sunset Transit center is on the Westside Max corridor in the Portland, Oregon area, and includes the transit station, light rail transit, bus stops and shelters, a 628 space park-and-ride garage, and a station access road. Highway improvements were made to help funnel traffic to the transit stations along the corridor and to reduce congestion.
Project Type:Station Project Mode:Light Rail Average Weekday Riders:3,314 Length (mi):0.00
Project Flags:Intermodal Economic Distress:0.96 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):709 Population Growth Rate (%):2.09
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.98 Market Size:725,875 Airport Travel Distance:18 Topography:20
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:OR County:Washington
City:Beaverton Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Beaverton
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Transit GIS Lat/Long:45.510253 / -122.782425
Initial Study Date:1992 Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:1993 Constr. End Date:2004
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2008 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):147,817,000 Actual Cost (curr $):159,937,413
Intermodal Actual Cost (YOE $): 35,700,000Intermodal Actual Cost (curr $): 38,627,260
Highway Road Access Improvement Cost (YOE $): 112,117,000Highway Road Access Improvement Cost (curr $): 121,310,153
Average Annual Daily Traffic: 136,000Number of Parking Spaces: 628
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||24.72||15.39||40.11|
|Output (in $M's)||70.45||43.86||114.31|
The Sunset Transit Center and US 26/OR-217 Interchange projects are part of Portland's Westside Corridor project. The West Side Corridor Project extended light rail 18 miles to the west of downtown Portland to Hillsboro, and included improvements to US 26 as far west as Hillsboro as well as improvements to OR 217. The light rail extension was purposefully located through undeveloped land in unincorporated Washington County in an effort to provide large development sites in the vicinity of light rail stations. The Sunset Transit Center was sited 5 miles west of Portland along the new line, adjacent to a 250 acre parcel of land in Washington County owned by the Peterkort Family, who had long range plans for development of the parcel. To date, 506 housing units, 170,000 square feet of retail space, and 289,842 square feet of new office space have been developed by the Peterkorts. Of these totals, an estimated 1/4 can be attributed to the improvements to the highway and interchange, leading to the creation of approximately 400 jobs. The development that has occurred to date has been auto-oriented, and is include pedestrian connections to the transit center.
At the time of planning for the West Side Rail project, the west side was identified as the area within the region that would develop most rapidly over the next two or three decades, regardless of the transportation investment. More important to the region than economic growth around the light rail and highway corridor improvements (which would have occurred anyway) will be the impact the transportation investments and supportive land use regulation have on the density and design of future development. A major goal of the Portland region is to reduce sprawl and create mixed-use communities that can benefit from transit access, reducing dependence on automobiles. The impact of the transit center is expected to occur in the future, when the market for the denser development required by the zoning immediately around the station reaches this suburban location.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Sunset Transit Center is one of the Portland region's major light rail and bus transfer stations. It is located approximately five miles west of downtown Portland on the 18-mile, 20 station Westside MAX (light rail) line, which opened in 1998. The Westside MAX line connects the western suburbs of Hillsboro and Beaverton with downtown Portland. The Sunset Transit Center is accessed via a reconstructed interchange from OR 217 and US 26, redesigned and rebuilt as part to the Westside Corridor project.
Interstate 405 can be accessed five miles to the east of the station in Portland, and Interstate 5 can be accessed to the east (approximately 6 miles) or seven miles to the south of the station via OR 217. Portland International Airport is located on the Columbia River approximately 18 miles northeast of the transit station. Intercity bus service (Greyhound) is available from Downtown Portland. The Port of Portland offers freight (water and rail) service to area businesses.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The Sunset Transit Center is located in Washington County, five miles from downtown Portland, Oregon and immediately north of Beaverton. In 1992, the population of Washington County was 344,283 and employment totaled 190,897, representing 12% of the State's population and 11% of the State's employment, respectively. Per capita income was $33,724 while the State per capita income was $29,517. By 2008, the population had increased by 53% and employment by 58%, increasing the percentage of the State's population and employment in the region to 14% and 13%, respectively. The County's per capita income reached $40,188 compared to the $36,365 for the state. The higher growth rates in Washington County compared to the State reflect its location in the fast-growing Portland metropolitan area.
Washington County is defined by the Tualatin River Valley, a fertile plain that historically provided prime agricultural lands. Despite its location in the Portland metropolitan area, agriculture and viticulture remain important industries in the County, particularly to the west. The lumber industry and food processing are also important economic sectors. The 1990s saw substantial growth in the electronics industry in the County. California-based Intel, which is Oregon's largest private sector employer, is also the largest employer in the County, with many of its jobs located in Hillsboro. Several additional well-known high tech companies, including IBM, also have facilities in Washington County. Nike and Columbia Sportswear are headquartered in unincorporated Washington County near Beaverton. The corporate expansion has occurred primarily in the eastern part of the County nearest to Portland, and is one of the compelling factors influencing expansion of transit services to this region.
The Westside MAX corridor was built to provide transit service and decrease roadway congestion in the rapidly growing suburbs west of downtown Portland. Tri-Met purposefully built the light rail line through large stretches of undeveloped land with the goal of attracting new, high density transit-oriented, mixed-use developments that would take advantage of transit. The region views this goal as a way to preserve the quality of life by limiting increases in vehicle miles of travel and providing easy access to locations throughout the region via public transit. Tri-Met routed the Westside MAX line to pass through a 250-acre parcel owned by the Peterkort family in Washington County just outside of Beaverton, and the Sunset Transit Center was purposefully located adjacent to this parcel to encourage transit-oriented development.
Both the US 26 and Oregon 217 corridors were improved as part of the project. Highway improvements included several reconfigurations of the interchange between US26 and OR 217, which directly serves the Sunset Transit Center, additional freeway lanes on each highway, frontage roads, braided ramps, and auxiliary lanes. The highway improvements began in 1994, and have been completed in several stages, with the final improvements contracted in 2008 and still under construction in 2010. The highway improvements were made to help funnel traffic to the transit stations along the corridor and to reduce congestion on these major roads. Significant road improvements were incorporated into the project in response to local concerns that transit alone could not alleviate the growing traffic congestion along these corridors. Further, the highway improvements were considered a key to successful build-out of the land in the vicinity of the transit station.
The cost of the transit station, bus stops and shelters, the 628 space park-and-ride garage, and the station access road totaled $25.7 million. The cost of the redesigned interchange and highway widening to date has been $82.9 million, with $29.3 million in improvements still underway. When all remaining highway improvements are completed, the total cost of the Sunset Transit Center and supporting highway improvements will be $147.8 million. All costs are in 2008 dollars.
Originally, the Federal Transit Administration balked at paying for a line that passed through undeveloped areas, concerned that ridership would not materialize. To win federal funding, Tri-Met signed a legally binding agreement to force local jurisdictions to adopt zoning to ensure that dense neighborhoods developed along the rail line. Metro, the regional planning organization, also agreed to adopt a long-range plan (Plan 2040) to further support development in the corridor. All of the local jurisdictions through which the rail line passes adopted new land use regulations to ensure that development in the vicinity of each transit station included uses and allowed densities compatible with transit usage.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
In 2010, daily light rail boardings at the Sunset Transit Station equaled 2,827, and bus boardings totaled 487. In 2009, AADT 1/3 of a mile west of the US 26/OR 217 interchange on US 26 totaled 136,000, while AADT 1.3 miles east totaled 126,800 (+23% from 1993.) In the same year, AADT on OR 217 south of the interchange was 105,400 (+18% since 1993.) Due to the rapid development in the west side suburbs, the 628 space parking garage at the station fills by 7:15 on work days. At the time of construction, Tri-Met elected not to add more levels of parking to accommodate future demand. The design of the transit center garage structurally cannot support additional levels, and there is no land available at the station to site a surface lot. Consequently, commuter parking is spilling over into adjacent neighborhoods, and owners of nearby office buildings have complained that commuters are using their lots for parking. Increased highway congestion has required continued upgrades to the US 26/Oregon 217 interchange to avoid problems caused by weaving for exiting and entering vehicles.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The Peterkort Company has owned the 250 acres surrounding the Sunset Transit Center for several decades. Lower density, single family neighborhoods abut their property to the west and north, and the Providence - St. Vincent Hospital abuts the property to the east. The latter is the premier hospital in the Portland region. In advance of the Westside corridor project, the Peterkorts developed a master plan for their property that includes office space, retail centers, and large residential developments. The family did not begin to implement the plan until planning for the Westside corridor had begun. All of the Peterkort development has been subject to either interim zoning or long-term zoning adopted to ensure that development in the area around the Sunset Transit Station is transit-supportive. The Peterkorts adopted language to market their master plan as a transit-oriented development, and mention the access to transit in all of their literature about their developments.
The first piece of the Peterkort development to be constructed was the Peterkort Towne Center, a traditional shopping plaza that opened in 1995, prior to the development of the transit station and highway improvements, but with full knowledge that these improvements would be forthcoming. This plaza includes 170,000 square feet of retail space with 23 tenants, including Ballys Total Fitness, Wells Fargo Bank, and an Outback Steakhouse. Approximately 378 jobs have been created at this development. While the mall is located within walking distance of the Transit Center, it is auto-oriented and accessed by automobile.
Three office buildings have been developed to date. These include two medical office buildings in close proximity to Providence ? St. Vincent Hospital with a total of 149,842 square feet. A structured garage with approximately 400 parking spaces was built attached to one of these buildings, with a parking ratio of 5 per 1000 square feet of space. The third office building is a 6 floor, Class A office building with 140,000 square feet of space. In total, there are approximately 1,207 jobs at these office buildings. The development of these offices was driven by the presence of the hospital, they have been built with ample parking, and they are accessed via the highway interchange. There are no pedestrian access routes from these buildings to the transit station, and little evidence that either employees or visitors use transit to access these offices.
The Deveraux Glen Apartments includes 506 units built approximately 3/4 of a mile northwest of the transit center. These homes were built at a higher density than the adjacent neighborhoods due to the regulations put in place to encourage transit-supportive development. There are no direct pedestrian pathways from this development to the transit center.
The master plan for the Peterkort site includes several additional components. Valeria View Center is a mixed-use project planned for 27.9 acres of land to the west of the station. This project is planned to include 650 high density residential units as well as some commercial office space. Peterkort Station is a planned neighborhood plaza programmed to include 20,000 square feet of retail, 140-280 square feet of office space, and 4 restaurants. This development will be immediately adjacent to the transit center. Peterkort Towne Square Too is a ten acre site proposed as an 110,000 square foot retail center. Finally, 700 units of high density residential development are proposed for a 13.2 acre site directly across Barnes Road from the transit center, which is designated as a transit-oriented development site in the County's comprehensive plan.
The Peterkorts feel that the restrictive zoning, which includes a minimum density requirement and maximum parking limits, has made it impossible for them to development the site to date because the market for high density housing and office and retail geared toward transit has not yet materialized in the suburbs. Planners in the region concur with this opinion, but believe the sites must remain zoned for densities compatible with transit. The developer also believes that Tri-Met's failure to provide enough parking at its station has negatively impacted tenants in its office buildings, and ODOT's continued work on the highway is inhibiting access to the area.
A representative of the Peterkort Company stated that the transit access is a benefit, but has not really impacted its decision to build on the site. This view is mirrored by County and Tri-Met officials, who note that, to date, the Peterkort office developments, while within 1/4 mile of the station, are surrounded by parking lots, and lack pedestrian access or orientation to the station. The retail development, located 1/2 mile from the station, is also auto-oriented with lots of parking and no connections to transit. The apartment complex is 3/4 miles or more from the station. There is no development on the large parcel adjacent to the transit center and consequently no intermediate development along any sidewalk connection to the transit center from the office buildings, shopping center and residences, making for an uninviting pedestrian experience. Without an attractive pedestrian access option, the road network for vehicular use makes these developments as auto-dependent as other suburban developments further away from the transit center. To date, the highway improvements have been more important to the success of development in the vicinity of the station than the transit center.
In the long term, the impact of the transit center and supportive zoning will be to allow higher densities of development than would have occurred otherwise. Thus, the site will accommodate hundreds of more housing units than would have been built on the property without the transit access, as well as more office and retail space. This is development that would have occurred elsewhere in the region, in a more traditional, suburban sprawl development pattern.
To date, development around the transit center and interchange include 506 apartments, 289,842 square feet of office space, and 170,000 square feet of retail space, and has created approximately 1,585 jobs. The highway improvements have helped open up access to these parcels, and an estimated 1/4, or 400 of the jobs, can be attributed to the improved highway connections. The transit center has helped influence increases in property values, although no data is available on the magnitude of this impact. Transit access will be more important to development that occurs on the parcel immediately across the street from the Transit Center. This parcel has not yet developed. It is anticipated that more development will occur in the area once all of the highway interchange and widening projects are completed, as transit alone cannot provide adequate regional access to the sites.
The Portland region is a national leader in sustainable development policies. The state of Oregon requires consistency between land use plans and transportation plans, and has a tradition of regional land use planning. The state has also adopted regional growth boundaries around metropolitan areas which force development into urban areas and prevent development of areas outside the boundaries. The Portland region adopted a 2040 Growth Concept, which outlines areas planned for growth, and the region invested in the Max Westside Extension is in support of this growth concept. Because the Portland region has provided transit in growth corridors and has adopted policies to encourage development in these corridors, Tri-Met is ranked as the 13th largest transit market while being only the 29th largest population center.
Tri-Met has a long tradition of station area planning, and began station planning for the Westside MAX line several years in advance of the Sunset Transit Center's opening. The transit agency worked with developers early on to identify the market potential of the entire corridor, and to build interest among developers for mixed-use projects. Tri-Met, Metro, and ODOT spent a combined total of over $4 million on station area planning in the Westside corridor.
Tri-Met also worked with the cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, and Washington County to adopt zoning ordinances that would encourage transit-oriented development (see http://washtech.co.washington.or.us/LDS/CDCdocs/375.pdf.) Zoning was adopted in two phases. The first phase resulted in the adoption of an overlay district around each station in the rail corridor that prohibited some auto-oriented uses and allowed for density bonuses for transit-supportive development. In 1997, phase two was implemented, with each jurisdiction adopting new zoning ordinances that prohibit uses deemed incompatible with transit, such as automobile sales showrooms, and specify the types of transit-supportive uses that are allowed. The zoning allows for mixed use development, and has dimensional requirements and minimum densities for each use. The density provision has actually stymied housing development in close proximity to the station because the suburban market for higher density housing has not yet materialized. Specific design standards, incorporated in "Transit-Oriented Zoning" were adopted by Washington County for the Peterkort site to further ensure that all development is supportive of transit.
The biggest factor limiting the impact of the transit center on development is that the market for denser, more urban style development has not yet reached the suburban areas of Washington County. The site adjacent to the transit center, which must be developed at higher densities than is typical in a suburban location, will likely develop with a transit-oriented design once the market can support such a development.
J Peterkort and Company
Metro Regional Government
Oregon Department of Transportation
Planning Department, City of Beaverton
Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation
Washington County Department of Transportation
Case study developed by Susan Jones Moses and Associates