1st TriMet bus line ever across Fremont Bridge will link NW Portland with eastside

TriMet is extending and rerouting its Line 24 to bring service between North and Northeast Portland and Northwest neighborhoods

The Fremont Bridge opened almost half a century ago, but the span across the Willamette River has never carried a TriMet bus route.

The Ross Island, St. Johns, Morrison, Steel, Sellwood, Hawthorne, Tilikum and Broadway bridges all had at least one bus line, but the Fremont stood alone.

On Sunday that will change, as TriMet reroutes its existing Line 24 across the bridge, home to Interstate 405 and U.S. 30. The line will serve Northwest Portland and the rapidly developing Slabtown neighborhood and continue into Southwest.

The bus line will run down Northwest 19th Avenue and loop near the Providence Park MAX station. The bus will then return northbound on Northwest 18th Avenue.

The line currently runs from the Gateway Transit Center largely along Fremont Street to the Boise/Eliot neighborhood, where it loops at Russell Street and returns up North Williams Avenue. The new route brings the 24 across the Fremont Bridge and the river while adding 13 new stops, including one steps away from Providence Park.

“This line has been talked about not only for days or months or years, but actually decades,” TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey said at a news conference. “I feel tremendously humbled and privileged to be a part of the culmination.”

The expanded route and service will cost $1.5 million to implement, paid for by the 2017 statewide transportation packaged approved by the Legislature. TriMet is also publicizing new service in Clackamas County (Line 31 between the Clackamas Town Center and Oregon City Transit Center) and more trips on a separate Line 79 in Clackamas County.

The 24 bus will run every 20 minutes during the morning and afternoon commutes and every 30 minutes or so otherwise. The added stops between the eastside and the end of the line will take roughly 15 minutes.

Rep. Barbara Smith-Warner, D-Portland, who served on the Joint Committee on Transportation when the transportation package was assembled, said one of her favorite parts of the $5.3 billion package was that it funded transit projects like the Fremont bus extension.

“When you do it right, public transit can transform communities and connect everyone, especially workers, seniors, students and kids, to the places that they need to go when they need to get there,” she said.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the city Transportation Bureau, said the project is a good example of the city and TriMet working together to bring a “smart, targeted” public transit project to a reality.

Portland transportation officials say the route is happening because of $9.6 million in transportation improvements nearby, like extending Northwest Thurman Street underneath U.S. 30 and extending Northwest 20th Avenue to create a new intersection in the neighborhood. Local property owners are paying $7.5 million of those transportation costs through taxes in a Local Improvement District, with the remainder covered by the city.

That improvement project, which goes near the Con-Way campus and its planned more than $500 million redevelopment, is expected to finish this summer.

TriMet said the new line also connects Legacy Health System’s Emanuel and Good Samaritan hospitals.

Sherifa Roach lives four blocks from the Fremont Bridge and said in order to get to Northwest Portland today, she has to take a bus to the Rose Quarter Transit Center and transfer to another line. All told, that trip takes an hour.

“This is a huge missing link,” she said of the new route. She hopes it will encourage more neighbors to take transit to get to Northwest Portland from the eastside instead of driving.

— Andrew Theen

503-294-4026

@andrewtheen

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