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Portland - June 2012

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Portland — United Streetcar Behind Schedule

June 2012

The Oregonian reports that United Streetcar is running months behind in its production of streetcars for Portland's new eastside streetcar line. The new line is complete and is scheduled to open on September 22, 2012, but it may do so without the U.S.-produced cars from the Oregon Iron Works subsidiary.

The original order for six streetcars was cut to five, though the contract price remains close to the original $19.5 million. Oregon Iron Works officials cite the overall complexity of building the cars along with propulsion and computer software problems for the delay.

Tucson and Washington, D.C. have also ordered streetcars from the firm, even though United Streetcar has yet to deliver a single working car to a customer.

It is possible that only one of the ordered five cars may be delivered to Portland by the September opeing date.

In a more hopeful sign, the United Streetcar prototype streetcar began test runs on the new eastside line the week of June 14.

The $148.3 million eastside project is a 3.3-mile extension of the existing streetcar line that runs from Northwest Portland through the Pearl District and downtown to Portland State University, and from there to South Waterfront. The extension crosses the Broadway Bridge and will provide service to inner Northeast and Southeast Portland, including the Lloyd District, the Oregon Convention Center, the Central Eastside Industrial District and OMSI.

The extension will include 28 new stops. A separate project will connect it to the streetcar line in South Waterfront over the new transit bridge across the Willamette River, completing a loop around the Central City.

According to the Portland Tribune, an analysis prepared before construction began estimated the extension will provide 3.5 million rides a year and reduce regional motor vehicle travel by 28 million miles a year.

An economic development study identified about 250 acres of potential redevelopment sites with a potential additional investment value of $5 billion in the project area.

A little more than half the project cost -- $75 million -- is being paid by the Federal Transit Administration through its New Starts program. The remaining budget includes $27.68 million in urban renewal funds from the Portland Development Commission, $15.5 million from a local improvement district approved by property owners along the line, $6.11 million from Transportation System Development Charges and other city funds, $3.62 million from regional transportation funds approved by Metro and $360,000 from federal stimulus funds.


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