The MAX Tunnel Study
Work Samples

The MAX Tunnel Study

Portland, OR

Nelson\Nygaard’s leadership helped to hold the partner coalition together while making rapid progress on complicated and highly technical work and responding to process and deliverable changes unfolding in a fluid and uncertain process.

Emerging from a TriMet capital project to make near-term repairs to the Steel Bridge, Metro undertook a fast-track pre-planning study to understand the technical, procedural, and political dimensions of advancing a MAX Tunnel Study within the regional transportation funding measure. Early studies indicated that the Steel Bridge itself—the rail interlockings on either side of the bridge and the surface intersections/signals within the Central City—were all contributing factors that limit MAX systemwide speed, reliability, and capacity. To accommodate future regional population growth and continue to build system ridership, a solution for Central City rail transit performance improvements was needed.

Nelson\Nygaard led a team of planners and engineers to tackle this complex project and regional partnership. Our work included reprising and presenting the previous studies in a quick and compelling fashion in order to focus the contract’s limited resources on advancing the technical work and analysis into areas previously under-developed and unexplored.

Our team established a rhythm of workshops that convened the regional partners, swiftly informed them on the magnitudes of technical work underway, and created the space for discussion and challenging conversations while still keeping the work of the contract and the idea of the project moving ahead. Our work advanced the technical design of the tunnel as a “representative project” with accurately depicted portals, station locations, and alignments, including future phases of tunnels. From those designs we conducted a scenario analysis of speed, reliability, access, travel time, ridership growth, and, trip patterns. We presented that information in a compelling and approachable format, supported engagement activities on an individual and group scale as well as through online forums, and built the capital cost estimates and project development budget scenarios for evaluation and selection by the Technical and Strategy Groups for inclusion in the 2020 Transportation Funding Measure.

Nelson\Nygaard’s leadership helped to hold the partner coalition together while making rapid progress on complicated and highly technical work and responding to process and deliverable changes unfolding in a fluid and uncertain process.

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