On May 6, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education’s Finance and Administration Committee unanimously supported the cost-free transfer of two parcels of land from Portland State to TriMet.
On May 6, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education’s Finance and Administration Committee unanimously supported the cost-free transfer of two parcels of land from Portland State to TriMet. The full board will make a decision on the recommendation at its meeting on June 2, according to Jay Kenton, the Oregon University System’s vice chancellor for finance and administration.
If approved, the transfer would allow the transit agency to move forward with the construction of its Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line.
The two parcels are currently used for PSU parking. One is located near the Art Building on Fifth Avenue, and the other is a drip of the parking lot in front of University Place. Together, the two strips of land total approximately 9,600 square feet and are worth $883,000, Kenton said.
Completion of the light-rail line is scheduled for Sept 2015, according to Jillian Detweiler, TriMet’s manager of property development. The line will be configured to hit all of the major stops between the South Waterfront and the PSU campus proper, connecting the university with Oregon Health & Science University, as well as the forthcoming Life Sciences Complex and College Station student housing project.
According to Lindsay Desrochers, PSU’s vice president of finance and administration, the land transfer is a small but vital strategic move for both TriMet and PSU. TriMet benefits in the expansion of its the light rail project, and PSU will benefit in greater mobility for its students, faculty and staff. In the meantime, the impact on campus parking will be negligible.
“If we didn’t do this, it would be foolish because the whole way we’ve managed to get this campus into the shape it’s in is by cooperating not only with the city planning people but with TriMet,” she said. “It’s been very important that the transportation entities make it easier for students living outside of campus to get in.”
PSU boasts approximately 4,000 parking stalls, 28–30,000 students, 4,000 faculty and staff, and about a million visitors every year, according to Kenton. The university is therefore critically dependent on public transportation in the form of light rail, streetcar, the Max and the bus system. The upshot of giving TriMet permanent ownership of the two strips of land is that the light-rail will allow PSU to build fewer parking stalls while serving even more commuters than it does today.
“For future PSU students, they may have a class on the South Waterfront and need to get back to the campus…for another class, and this rail connection will facilitate the movement of people back and forth from those locations,” Kenton said.
He added that the transfer falls in line with PSU’s mission to be a sustainability-minded, eco-friendly campus by helping the university reduce its carbon footprint. It will also further solidify the connection between PSU and OHSU by giving them a major transportation amenity in common.
“It’s a win-win proposition,” Desrochers said. “There’s no downside to this.”
Detweiler said that the importance of the land has been known to TriMet for about a year, and that it was roughly seven months ago that TriMet approached PSU with the intention of acquiring it. ?