Portland has been highly touted for his commitment to livability and sustainable transportation. Portlanders are lucky – and connected, thanks in part to Trimet’s mission of maintaining livability by connecting people with their community. Trimet, providing bus, light rail and commuter rail service to the Portland metro area, is expanding in 2012 with the addition of the newest MAX light rail line, the 7.3-mile orange line.
This line will connect downtown Portland, near Portland State and the South Waterfront, to the east side, Milwaukie and Clackamas County while expanding upon the existing 50-plus miles of light rail coverage. According to Trimet, the project is expected to provide 25,000 weekday rides by 2030, generate nearly 15,000 regional jobs while sourcing its materials solely with American products.
Last July, Trimet broke ground on a 1,720 foot, $130 million transit bridge linking Portland’s growing South Waterfront District to the eastside near OMSI. The cable-stayed bridge, the highlight of the Portland-Milwaukie project, is to be restricted to automobiles other than Trimet busses and will feature two 14-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle decks. The paths will make further connections on both sides of the river, linking to the East Bank Esplanade and a future greenway along the South Waterfront.
Beginning construction on the $1.5 billion orange line project was just step one, however, in what is expected to be a crucial year in carrying out Trimet’s full vision. Their proposal for extending the orange line into Milwaukie has been met with harsh opposition from residents of Milwaukie and Clackamas County. Formal petitions have been submitted to the city and county in an attempt force a public vote for authorizing the use of city and county funds for light rail projects. As it stands, the city of Milwaukie and Clackamas County are on the hook for contributions of $5 million and $25 million, respectively.
If the city or county were to deny Trimet these promised funds, the project could be scaled back and legal actions could follow.
Beyond Portland the project has become a national issue. While budget cuts have crippled the spending power of local governments to retrofit and construct major infrastructure projects across America, President Obama praised the Portland-Milwaukie project as a crucial part of rebuilding the economy and pledged $100 million in his 2012 budget. Furthermore, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood remains optimistic about the state of the orange line.
Photo from Trimet Fact Sheet