|MAX Yellow Line|
|Other name(s)||Interstate MAX|
|Locale||Portland, Oregon, U.S.|
|Termini||Expo Center (north)|
PSU South in downtown Portland (south)
|Website||MAX Yellow Line|
|System||MAX Light Rail|
|Daily ridership||12,960 (Weekday, September 2019)|
|Opened||May 1, 2004|
|Line length||5.8 mi (9.3 km)[a]|
|Number of tracks||2|
|Character||At-grade and elevated|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||Overhead line, 750 V DC|
The MAX Yellow Line is a light rail service in Portland, Oregon, United States, operated by TriMet as part of the MAX Light Rail system. It connects North Portland to Portland City Center and Portland State University (PSU) with 17 stops from Expo Center station to PSU South/Southwest 6th and College station. The line travels from Portland Expo Center in the north, south to the Rose Quarter through a 5.8-mile (9.3 km) light rail segment along the median of Interstate Avenue. From the Rose Quarter, it crosses the Willamette River via the Steel Bridge and enters downtown Portland, where it operates as a northbound-only service of the Portland Transit Mall on 6th Avenue. Service runs for approximately 21 hours daily with a headway of 15 minutes during most of the day.
After failing to secure funding for the South/North Corridor project, which would have built a light rail line between Clackamas County and Clark County, Washington, Portland business leaders and local residents persuaded TriMet to revive the portion of the project within North Portland. As a source of funding, the city created an urban renewal area, which has since been partly blamed for gentrifying historically black inner-city neighborhoods. The Interstate MAX began construction in 2001 and opened on May 1, 2004, four months ahead of schedule. From 2004 to 2009, the Yellow Line ran from Expo Center station in North Portland to the Library and Galleria stations in downtown Portland. In 2009, TriMet rerouted downtown Yellow Line service to the Portland Transit Mall.
Since 2015, the Yellow Line has operated as a northbound through service of the Orange Line from PSU South/Southwest 6th and College station and has shared its transit mall alignment on 6th Avenue with the Green Line. Conversely, most southbound Yellow Line trains, which had served the other half of the mall on 5th Avenue from 2009 to 2015, operate through into the Orange Line from Union Station/Northwest 5th & Glisan Street station and terminate at Southeast Park Avenue station in Milwaukie. The Yellow Line is the fourth-busiest service in the MAX system; it carried an average of 12,960 riders each weekday in September 2019.
See also: MAX Light Rail § South/North plan
A 1985 study by staff of the Portland metropolitan area's regional government, Metro, examined the feasibility of a light rail line from Portland across the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington via routes alongside Interstate 5 (I-5) or along the median of Interstate Avenue but concluded that no light rail alternative would "'pay back' within the useful life of the project". A Metro report completed the following year contrastingly noted that light rail along the corridor would be "promising". Portland city planners proposed a northside passenger rail service in 1988 as part of Portland's Central City and Albina Community plans, which sought to extend the region's then-two-year-old light rail system, the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX), via Interstate Avenue, I-5, or Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (formerly Union Avenue). While serving on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senators Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Brock Adams of Washington combined these proposals with a greater Vancouver–Portland–Oregon City light rail plan that Metro (the Portland metropolitan area's regional government) separately developed, for which the committee appropriated $2 million to study in 1989.
Preliminary alignment studies north to Vancouver and Clark County, including an additional proposal for a line between Vancouver Mall and Clackamas Town Center along I-205, commenced shortly after. Metro's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) identified a 25-mile (40 km) route from Hazel Dell through downtown Portland to Clackamas Town Center in 1994 that TriMet formally named the "South/North Corridor".: 80 That November, Metro asked Portland area voters if they would approve a $475 million bond measure to cover Oregon's portion of the project's estimated $2.8 billion cost; the measure passed by 63 percent. Across the river, Clark County officials proposed a 0.3 percent increase in sales and vehicle excise taxes to provide Washington's $237.5 million share; voters turned it down by 69 percent on February 7, 1995.
Amid fears that ridership would not justify a North Portland segment if Clark County were excluded, JPACT scaled back the project and released a second plan that would only build the line between the Rose Quarter and Clackamas Town Center. To fill the funding gap that resulted from the exclusion of Clark County, the Oregon House of Representatives passed a $750 million transportation package that included $375 million for the project. The Oregon Supreme Court promptly struck down this funding due to the inclusion of unrelated measures, which violated the state's constitution. In February 1996, state legislators revised the package, but light rail opponents forced a statewide vote in November that ultimately prevented the use of state funds. In an effort to regain the support of North Portland residents, who had historically voted in favor of light rail, and to avoid seeking state funding, JPACT announced a third plan in February 1997 that reinstated a segment within North Portland, a 15-mile (24 km) line from Lombard Street to Clackamas Town Center. A few months later, the Portland City Council extended this proposed alignment through North Portland so that it would terminate another mile north of Lombard Street in Kenton. That July, Metro advanced the final environmental studies for a line that would run 16 miles (26 km) between Kenton and Clackamas Town Center in its first phase, with a potential to extend it 21 miles (34 km) up to Clark County should financing be acquired. Due to the wording on the original ballot passed in 1994, which described the project extending into Clark County, regional transit agency TriMet elected to reaffirm voter support by drafting a new $475 million bond measure. Portland area residents cast their vote on November 3, 1998, and those against the measure narrowly defeated it, 52 percent to 48 percent.
In 1999, North Portland residents and city business leaders urged TriMet to revive the South/North Corridor's northern portion but without the Clark County segment; they argued that 81 percent of Multnomah County voters had wanted light rail. TriMet agreed and developed a proposal to build a line along the median of Interstate Avenue, between the Portland Expo Center and the Rose Quarter. Meetings and polls conducted in June of that year determined that locals overwhelmingly supported the project, which organizers began calling the "Interstate MAX", as long as it was less expensive than the South/North project, did not displace residents from their homes,: 83 and did not require any new taxes. The city council subsequently endorsed the proposal.
TriMet projected the cost of the Interstate MAX at $350 million. To build it without the need for a significant new source of local funding, the city created an urban renewal district surrounding the alignment and adopted the Interstate Corridor urban renewal area (ICURA) plan in August 2000.: 24 This covered an expansive 3,744-acre (1,515 ha) area within 10 neighborhoods and directed $30 million in tax increment funds towards the project. That same year, TriMet and the city completed funding the Airport MAX and Central City Streetcar projects without requesting any federal assistance; TriMet declared them part of the Interstate MAX project, providing $257.5 million in matching federal funds that the Federal Transit Administration approved in September. TriMet and Metro contributed $38.5 million and $24 million respectively to the remaining balance, sourced from their own general transportation funds.
Construction of the Interstate MAX began in February 2001 with a ceremony held near the Rose Quarter. Initial work on the line's junction with the Eastside MAX, located near the east end of the Steel Bridge, required a 16-day closure of the Eastside MAX segment between Rose Quarter Transit Center and Old Town/Chinatown station, during which buses shuttled riders between the two stations. In April, TriMet contracted Stacy and Witbeck to lay tracks between the Rose Quarter and Kenton and build a new vehicular overpass in Lower Albina. Meanwhile, the agency awarded the section between Kenton and the Expo Center, which included the construction of a 3,850-foot-long (1,173 m) dual-track bridge north of Argyle Street, to F.E. Ward Constructors. The rapid pace of construction, which workers credited to improvements in track-laying and street reconstruction technology learned from previous MAX projects, hit a halfway point in April 2002. TriMet marked this milestone with a concrete pouring ceremony at the line's intersection with Portland Boulevard. Workers completed road and sidewalk improvements the following November, six months ahead of schedule. In August 2003, with construction approximately 80 percent complete, TriMet officials announced the line's targeted opening for the following spring, months earlier than the previously anticipated September commencement. Line testing began in February 2004 and continued up to the extension's inauguration.
The 5.8-mile (9.3 km) Interstate MAX extension opened on May 1, 2004, four months ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget. TriMet created a new MAX service called the "Yellow Line", which ran from Expo Center station in North Portland to the Library and Galleria stations in downtown Portland, turning around at the 11th Avenue tracks; it followed First Avenue and Morrison and Yamhill streets upon entry into downtown, serving this segment alongside the Blue and Red lines. The Yellow Line replaced TriMet bus route 5–Interstate. Over 20,000 people attended opening day celebrations, and TriMet offered free rides for two days. The presence of the line spurred redevelopment along the corridor, including new investments from Fred Meyer and New Seasons Market.
On August 30, 2009, TriMet rerouted the Yellow Line to begin serving the light rail tracks added to the rebuilt Portland Transit Mall, with the PSU Urban Center stations as its interim southern termini. The agency had placed the construction of the intended PSU South termini on hold as it awaited transit-oriented development projects in the area to finish. The PSU South stations opened in September 2012. Following the completion of the Portland–Milwaukie Light Rail Project, which extended MAX to Milwaukie, the Yellow Line became partially interlined with the new Orange Line. TriMet claimed separating the lines would allow it to better control service frequencies from North Portland and Milwaukie to downtown Portland, as it expected higher ridership along the Orange Line. It also anticipated few riders from these communities traveling beyond the city center. Most Orange Line trains subsequently took over operating the southbound 5th Avenue segment of the transit mall on September 12, 2015.
See also: Columbia River Crossing
Passenger rail service had once operated between Portland and Vancouver. The first commenced in October 1888 as a steam dummy line owned by the Portland and Vancouver Railway Company called the Vancouver line.: 6–8 Its tracks initially ran from the corner of First and Washington streets in downtown Portland north to Hayden Island,: 73 where Vancouver-bound passengers transferred to a ferry to continue across the Columbia River.: 16–17 The line was electrified in 1892 following its acquisition by the Portland Consolidated Street Railway.: 71 The first Interstate Bridge, built in 1917, finally extended the tracks across the river and replaced the ferry service. The Vancouver line remained operational as part of the Portland Railway, Light and Power Company until its closure in September 1940.: 71
Regional planners in Oregon considered restoring rail service to Vancouver in 1974, when TriMet proposed a light rail line at the same time Governor Tom McCall's task force studied options for allocating federal assistance funds diverted from the canceled Mount Hood Freeway project. Then in 1984, a bi-state advisory committee revisited the concept, envisioning 8,000 commuters from Clark County by the year 2000. Both proposals were shelved due to feasibility issues and a lack of funding. Following the South/North project's initial defeat, planning for a separate North Portland to Clark County segment continued. New studies were conducted to evaluate the feasibility of a light rail-only bridge or tunnel, while other studies suggested light rail on a third vehicular bridge, an idea that had been considered since the late 1980s. An environmental study released in February 1998 for the South/North project's third iteration included an option for a low bridge with a lift span, but a decision was made to reserve the option for a later phase.
In 2004, Oregon and Washington began efforts to replace the Interstate Bridge, citing the bridge's declining structural integrity and worsening congestion. This culminated in the Columbia River Crossing project in 2008. The project would have replaced the bridge and extended MAX further north from the Expo Center through Hayden Island and across the Columbia River to downtown Vancouver and Clark College, adding seven new stations along 2.9 miles (4.7 km) of new track. Planners projected the extension to cost upwards of $3.5 billion (equivalent to $4.05 billion in 2020 dollars).: 3 In June 2013, three months after the Oregon Legislature authorized $450 million in state funding, the Washington State Senate declined to fund Washington's share, with opponents citing the inclusion of light rail as a common reason for rejecting the proposal. The states terminated the project in March 2014.
A light rail extension into Clark County remains part of Metro's 2018 Regional Transportation Plan for 2040. The plan assumes a cost of $4.1 billion for the entire project, of which $3.1 billion would be used to replace the Interstate Bridge, $80 million to build a second bridge connecting Hayden Island to Portland Expo Center, and $850 million for the remainder of the extension. The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council also includes the light rail corridor in their own 2040 plan.
See also: Portland Transit Mall
The Yellow Line serves the Interstate MAX extension, which is 5.8 miles (9.3 km) long.[a] Its northern terminus is Expo Center station, situated on the east end of the Portland Expo Center parking lot. From there, the line heads south adjacent to Expo Road. Before Delta Park/Vanport station, the alignment gradually elevates as it enters a 3,850-foot-long (1,170 m) viaduct, which crosses over Victory Boulevard, Interstate Avenue, the Columbia Slough, and Columbia Boulevard before approaching a level crossing on Argyle Street. Just south of Kenton/North Denver Avenue station, the tracks enter the median of Interstate Avenue and proceed south towards Interstate/Rose Quarter station at the Rose Quarter. The Interstate MAX connects with the Eastside MAX segment at the east end of the Steel Bridge, where Yellow Line trains continue west across the Willamette River and into downtown Portland via the Glisan Street ramp. A wye just south of Union Station splits the double-tracks to establish the northern end of the Portland Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues.
On the Portland Transit Mall, southbound Yellow Line trains operate through into the Orange Line bound for Milwaukie at Union Station/Northwest 5th & Glisan station on 5th Avenue. Conversely, Yellow Line trains serve the northbound 6th Avenue segment as through-routed continuations of the Orange Line from PSU South/Southwest 6th and College station alongside Green Line trains. Near PSU Urban Center/Southwest 6th & Montgomery station, MAX tracks cross with the Portland Streetcar, which serves a stop on Mill Street. Between the Pioneer Courthouse and Pioneer Courthouse Square at Pioneer Courthouse/Southwest 6th station, the 6th Avenue MAX line intersects with east–west MAX lines on Yamhill and Morrison streets, facilitating a transfer to the Pioneer Square South and Pioneer Square North stations. The line continues northward, entering Northwest Portland after passing Burnside Street, eventually reaching the north end of the transit mall at Union Station/Northwest 6th and Hoyt station.
From its opening in 2004 until 2009, the Yellow Line followed the Eastside MAX alignment from the east end of the Steel Bridge to the 11th Avenue tracks in downtown Portland, serving the stations from Old Town/Chinatown to Library and Galleria alongside Blue and Red line trains. It was rerouted to the Portland Transit Mall in August 2009 after the addition of light rail to 5th and 6th avenues.
Further information on the stations, including TriMet bus connections: List of MAX Light Rail stations
The Interstate MAX extension consists of ten stations from Expo Center to Interstate/Rose Quarter. Of these ten stations, seven occupy the median of Interstate Avenue, giving the line its name. The Yellow Line is the only service that serves stations on the Interstate MAX. It also serves seven stations in downtown Portland along the northbound segment of the Portland Transit Mall on 6th Avenue; these are shared with the Green Line. Transfers to the Orange Line, which runs southbound from Union Station in downtown Portland to Milwaukie, can be made at any of the seven stations along the transit mall's 5th Avenue alignment, although most southbound Yellow Line trains operate through into the Orange Line. Transfers to the Blue and Red lines are available at Pioneer Courthouse/Southwest 6th station, and to the Blue, Green, and Red lines at Interstate/Rose Quarter station. The Yellow Line also provides connections to local and intercity bus services at several stops across the line, to Amtrak near Union Station/Northwest 6th & Hoyt station, and to the Portland Streetcar at PSU Urban Center/Southwest 6th & Montgomery station.
|Northbound travel only[b]|
|May 1, 2004||—||—|
|Delta Park/Vanport||—||Connects to C-Tran|
|Kenton/North Denver Avenue||—||—|
|North Lombard Transit Center||—||—|
|North Killingsworth Street||—||—|
|North Prescott Street||—||—|
|Interstate/Rose Quarter||Connects to C-Tran|
|Union Station/Northwest 6th & Hoyt||Portland
|August 31, 2009||Connects to Amtrak, Greyhound, POINT, TCTD|
|Northwest 6th & Davis||—|
|Southwest 6th & Pine||—|
|Pioneer Courthouse/Southwest 6th||—|
|Southwest 6th & Madison||—|
|PSU Urban Center/Southwest 6th & Montgomery||Connects to Portland Streetcar|
|PSU South/Southwest 6th and College||September 2, 2012||Most trains through operate from the Orange Line|
As of May 2019, the Yellow Line operates for approximately 21 hours per day with the first northbound train arriving at Interstate/Rose Quarter station at 4:15 am as a through service of the Blue Line. The first southbound train departs Expo Center station for Union Station/Northwest 5th and Glisan at 5:03 am, where most trains continue as Orange Line services bound for Southeast Park Avenue station in Milwaukie. The first northbound train from PSU South/Southwest 6th and College departs for the Expo Center station at 5:05 am; end-to-end travel takes approximately 35 minutes. In the evenings, select southbound trains turn into eastbound Blue Line trains at Interstate/Rose Quarter station and continue on to Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue station in Gresham, while other trains proceed along the Portland Transit Mall as part of the Green Line, terminating at PSU South/Southwest 5th and Jackson. The last northbound train departs PSU South station at 12:21 am and the last southbound train departs Expo Center station at 1:04 am. TriMet designates the Yellow Line as a "Frequent Service" route, running on a headway of 15 minutes during most of the day, which extends up to 30 minutes in the early morning and late evening hours.
The Yellow Line is the fourth-busiest MAX service, averaging 12,960 riders on weekdays in September 2019, down from 13,170 for the same month in 2018. Ridership projections in 2003, several months before the line's opening, expected 13,900 passengers per day during the line's first few years, growing to 20,000 daily passengers by 2020. For the 2015 fiscal year, the Yellow Line recorded 4.9 million total boardings, down from 5.4 million recorded in 2012. The drop in ridership, experienced systemwide, is attributed to crime and to lower-income riders being forced out of the inner city by rising housing prices.
See also: Albina, Portland, Oregon
The presence of the Interstate MAX and its accompanying ICURA plan has been partly blamed for gentrifying historically black Portland neighborhoods. In an analysis conducted by The Oregonian on the 2010 United States Census, approximately 10,000 people of color have left Portland's Central City between 2000 and 2010. Of this number, 8,400 had lived in inner North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods. According to another report by the Portland Housing Bureau, neighborhoods around Interstate Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard were the only areas in Portland that experienced double-digit percentage declines in minority population from 2000 to 2013. During the same period, the Interstate Corridor gained more than 13,000 new white and non-Hispanic residents.
The 2000-adopted ICURA plan had outlined policies to prevent the displacement of existing residents—such as ensuring that affordable housing would be top priority—that the Portland Development Commission (PDC) later eliminated. Amid mounting pressure from the community, the PDC began setting aside 30 percent of the urban renewal funds for affordable housing in 2006. The PDC amended the ICURA plan in July 2011, expanding its boundaries to 3,990 acres (1,610 ha) and 17 neighborhoods.: 15 In 2016, the city allocated a budget of $52 million to help pay for housing projects within the urban renewal area and devised a housing plan referred to as the "preference policy", which offered a way for affected residents to stay or return to their neighborhoods.
With the light rail system due to expand to two services in September 2001, and three in 2004 (with all three using the same routing and stops in the city centre), Tri-Met has decided to assign route colours as follows ...