The 7.3-mile Portland to Milwaukie light railway transit project in the US state of Oregon was undertaken by Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), Oregon’s public transportation authority.

The railway line connects Portland State University (PSU) in the downtown, inner South-East Portland, Oak Grove in North Clackamas County and Milwaukie.

In September 2009, the City of Portland, Metro, the City of Milwaukie and Clackamas County and TriMet began to consider a light train service to meet the growing transit needs in the Milwaukie/Oregon City corridors and Interstate 205.

The project received approval for final design from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in March 2011.

The project was completed in September 2015. The line is expected to carry approximately 22,765 to 25,500 people on weekdays by 2030.

The project was completed at a cost of $1.49bn. Approximately half of the cost was funded by the federal government and the remaining by local governments. Construction of the project created 14,000 jobs and approximately $573m in personal earnings in construction-related economic activities.

“The main aspect of the project is the Portland-Milwaukie light railway bridge over the Willamette River.”

In May 2012, the federal government committed around $745.2m in funding for the project. The funds formed 50% of the total cost of the project.

Oregon light railway line routes

TriMet currently operates Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light rail services in Portland. It connects downtown Portland with the Blue Line connecting Gresham, the City Center and Hillsboro, the Green Line connecting PSU, City Center and Clackamas, the Red Line connecting Beaverton, City Center and Portland International Airport, and the Yellow Line connecting PSU, City Center and the Expo Center.

The project is an extension of the existing MAX green and yellow lines in the south from the PSU. It spans over the Willamette River via the bridge from future South Waterfront campus at SW Moody Ave to OMSI. The line then runs south from OMSI through inner Southeast Portland and Milwaukie. It finally reaches the north of Clackamas County.

Portland to Milwaukie light rail project

Analysis of the proposed station areas of the project was conducted between 2007 and 2008. Planning and preliminary engineering was completed between 2009 and 2010. Several alternatives proposed by public and jurisdictional partners were examined for the location of end-of-line station and track and bridge alignments. In July 2008, a locally preferred alternative (LPA) was selected for the Portland-Milwaukie light railway line route.

The preliminary engineering phase for the proposed stations design was completed in March 2010. Detailed planning will be continued along with the project’s final design. The final environmental impact statement (FEIS) was published in October 2010. It includes planning and design of the trackway, the Portland-Milwaukie light rail bridge and the stations.

“The 7.3-mile Portland to Milwaukie light railway transit project is located in the US state of Oregon.”

The LPA route includes two new stations on the western side of the river, eight new stations on the east side of the river and a south terminus at Oak Grove.

The stations on the route in Portland are located at SW Lincoln Street Station, South Waterfront Station, OMSI Station, SE Clinton St Station, SE Rhine Station, SE Holgate Blvd Station, SE Bybee Blvd Station and SE Tacoma St Station. A SE Harold Station has also been planned for the future.

The stations in Milwaukie include Downtown Milwaukie/SE 21st Ave Station and Park Ave Station. The stations have park and ride facilities.

Portland-Milwaukie light railway bridge

The main aspect of the project is the Portland-Milwaukie light railway bridge over the Willamette River. The Willamette River Bridge Advisory Committee (WRBAC) considered proposals for the bridge between July 2008 and February 2009. A four-pier cable-stayed bridge was selected by the WRBAC for the river overcrossing in May 2009.

The 1,720ft long bridge measures 180ft from pier cap to top. It carries the Portland-Milwaukie line trains; bus lines 19, 17 and 9; 14ft cyclist paths connecting regional bike routes and the city; two greenway paths for pedestrians and also support future streetcars. The bridge is the first of its kind built across the river in the past 35 years.

Bridge and railway construction

Work began on the project in July 2011, with in-water constructions for the bridge. Project construction was completed between 2011 and 2014. The bridge and the services were opened in September 2015.

In July 2012, deliveries of 64 girders each weighing approximately 46t began in the South Waterfront area. The girders support the decking that carries the rail line above and below the roadways in the area. They were delivered in three phases.

Siemens rolling stock

In May 2012, Siemens won a $73m contract to supply 18 of its S70 light rail vehicles. The S70 Type 5 vehicles can operate at a maximum speed of 55mph. A low floor design provides easy access to passengers boarding at street level. The vehicle also features energy-efficient lighting, HVAC and ergonomic cabs. Siemens delivered the vehicles in 2014.