Tigard light rail measure passes by 149 votes

Ballot Measure 34-255 has passed

A voter casts his ballot at the drive-up drop box by Tigard City Hall on Nov. 8. (Portland Tribune)
A voter casts his ballot at the drive-up drop box by Tigard City Hall on Nov. 8. (Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Almost three weeks after Election Day, it’s official: Ballot Measure 34-255 has passed, and the Tigard City Council is free to put its official support behind planning efforts to bring a MAX light rail line to the city.

The city of Tigard put out a press release Monday stating that the Washington County Elections Office has certified the result of the Nov. 8 election, with 12,683 voting “yes” on Measure 34-255 and 12,534 voting “no.” That is a margin of 149 votes — slightly less than 0.6 percentage points, and just about triple the margin that would have triggered an automatic recount under Oregon law.

The city said the measure’s passage “clears the way for continued region-wide planning to extend MAX light rail service to Tigard.” The regional government Metro has been working for several years on a set of transit improvements called the Southwest Corridor Plan, with a MAX line that would be built from downtown Portland to Bridgeport Village in Tualatin as its centerpiece.

Tigard’s city charter was amended in 2014 to require the city to formally oppose any high-capacity transit project in Tigard unless voters approve a measure authorizing it. That charter amendment, which was narrowly approved in a special election, required the City Council to place Measure 34-255 before voters before it could become an “active partner” in the MAX project.

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook sits on the steering committee for the Southwest Corridor Plan. He also chaired the “yes” campaign on Measure 34-255.

Cook said in the city’s statement, “W“Everyone will have multiple opportunities” to weigh in as the project progresses, he added.

“WAlthough the election results have been certified in Washington County, according to Mickie Kawai, the county’s elections manager, there is still a window for voters to demand a recount. Because the margin is outside of the automatic recount range, though, she said any recount that is conducted would be at the expense of the person asking for it.

Arthur Crino, who ran the “no” campaign on the measure, told The Times that he is “throwing in the towel” and will not demand a recount on the measure.

“They have spoken,” he said of Tigard voters.

Although he opposes the MAX project, which he has criticized as a “boondoggle,” Crino said his attitude has been that “if the people want light rail and they vote for it, who are we to stand in their way?”

Tigard voters also approved an amendment to the city charter in 2012 that requires voter approval before the city can levy any tax or fee to pay for light rail construction.

What Measure 34-255’s passage does, according to the city of Tigard, is allow the city to support the project and make changes to its regulations and zoning rules to accommodate light rail infrastructure.

Cook has said he expects Metro to seek a regional vote on funding in 2018. If some combination of local, state and federal funding is secured for the project, which could cost as much as $2.8 billion, the MAX line could be built by 2025, according to the city’s statement.

A final route for the MAX line has not yet been decided.

The Southwest Corridor’s steering committee will next meet on Dec. 12 at Tigard City Hall.

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