By Midge Pierce

With delays likely in federal grant funding and a design estimated at some $14 million over budget, Trimet officials have trotted out a new descriptor for the Division Rapid Transit Project: recalibrating.

At the 30% design stage, the project is undergoing cost cutting to meet the $175 million cap on a Federal Transit Administration small starts project grant. The cap includes 50% local funding.

Delays and changes are to be expected in projects of this magnitude, according to Trimet Communications Manager Roberta Alstadt, who says recommendations and project rankings from the FTA are expected later in February.

SE Uplift transportation representative John Carr says Trimet is looking to determine what is “essential to delivering a project that improves service and can serve as model for other high-capacity bus lines in the future”.

For SE residents, many of whom have been critical of the project as solving a problem where none exists, Carr says, “The delay throws uncertainty into everything.”

It also offers an opportunity to advocate for what Carr terms “betterment”.

For instance, SEUL is pushing for electrification of the DTP fleet. Trimet has said electrified buses are feasible, even the 60 foot articulated buses planned for Division. Funding would likely need to come from the new state transportation package.

If there is a year-long delay, the project will be resubmitted in 2019. With cost escalations, Carr says the project could go $20 million over its projected cost.