TriMet and public safety partners will be conducting a full-scale emergency response exercise on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. Activities will involve at least 225 people from more than 20 agencies and emergency management partners. The drill will better prepare our region, first responders and TriMet personnel for the potential of threats against the transit system. The exercise will take place at our Washington Park MAX Station—both at the station’s surface-level plaza and some 260 feet below on the platforms in the Robertson Tunnel. This will require disrupting MAX Blue and Red lines for the day.
The regional, full-scale exercise will involve fire, medical and police personnel, as well as TriMet staff. It will include two simulated events: an active attacker and a hazardous materials incident.
The drill is funded through a Transit Security Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those grants are awarded to agencies “to protect critical transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from terrorism and to increase transportation infrastructure resilience.”
“There is no known threat to TriMet’s system, but it is vital that we as a public transit provider and our regional first responders remain vigilant and prepared for a coordinated response in the event that ever changes,” TriMet Executive Director of Safety and Security Andrew Wilson said. “We appreciate our riders for their understanding about the disruption to our service for the day, as this exercise is an important part of our comprehensive safety and security efforts and preparedness.”
The Washington Park MAX Station will be closed and off limits to the public on Sunday, Nov. 5, and MAX Blue and Red lines will be disrupted for the entire service day. This will allow crews to prepare for and conduct the exercise, then clear personnel and equipment and prepare for the return of regular MAX service on Monday, Nov. 6. Shuttle buses will provide service between Sunset Transit Center and Providence Park stations. MAX Red Line trains will run only between Gateway Transit Center and Portland International Airport. Trains and shuttle buses will run on regular Sunday frequency—every 15 minutes.
If riding MAX Blue or Red lines on Sunday, plan an extra 15 to 30 minutes for trips through the disrupted area. Consider using bus lines 20-Burnside/Stark and 58-Canyon Rd to avoid the disruption. If heading to PDX, use Blue or Green Line trains to reach Gateway Transit Center and transfer to Red Line trains. Plan and track rides at trimet.org.
The Federal Transit Administration requires transit agencies to conduct emergency exercises related to critical tunnel infrastructure such as TriMet’s Robertson Tunnel through the West Hills. The tunnel consists of twin, three-mile tunnels spanning between Multnomah and Washington counties. Elevators take people some 260 feet between the surface level at Washington Park and the platforms below, making it the deepest transit station in North America and the fifth deepest in the world. MAX operations through the tunnel began in September 1998, when the MAX Blue Line extension between Downtown Portland and Hillsboro opened.
This is TriMet’s first full-scale drill in the Robertson Tunnel since 2014. In addition to TriMet staff, personnel from the following agencies are involved: American Medical Response (AMR), Dikason Medical Services, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Gresham Fire Department, Gresham Police Department, Kaiser Permanente, Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services, Multnomah County Health Department, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, NW Oregon Health Preparedness Organization, Oregon Department of Emergency Management, Oregon Health Authority (OHA), OHA Health Security Preparedness and Response, Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), Portland Fire & Rescue, Portland Police Bureau, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency (WCCCA), Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Department of Health, SenseMakers LLC.