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Portland - February 2009

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Portland — Streetcar Extension Contract Awarded

Rail Transit Online, February 2009

The city's Office of Transportation has awarded a $77-million construction contract for the Portland Streetcar Loop Project to Stacy and Witbeck, which previously built two segments of the system. The 3.3-mi. (5.3 km) extension will cross the Willamette River via the Broadway Bridge, connecting the existing line with northeast Portland and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Preliminary work is expected to begin next month but heavy construction may be delayed until summer because of federal funding issues. The FTA under the Bush administration failed to provide money for a single streetcar project, but that's expected to change under President Obama.

"We're still waiting for the Federal Transit Administration to give us the go-ahead," project manager Vicky Diede told The Dafly Journal of Commerce, "Everything is kind of tied up with the federal fiscal year 2009 appropriations and the stimulus package. All that has to be sorted out for it to go ahead."

The entire project will cost $147 million. Although called a loop, the project needs a new rail bridge over the Willamette at the southern end of the extension to complete the circuit and make another connection with the current line in southwest Portland.

Lake Oswego Streetcar Study Accelerated

Five local government jurisdictions have banded together to fund a draft environmental impact study for the proposed Portland Streetcar extension to Lake Oswego, accelerating the project by about three years. Metro, the regional government, had planned to fund the study in 2012 but now wants to have it ready by 2010, in time to be eligible for federal construction money in the re-authorization of SAFETEA-LU.

In addition to Metro, there will be contributions for the DEIS from Lake Oswego ($150,000), Clackamas County ($850,000), Portland ($1 million) and TriMet, which will lead the effort. Lake Oswego will loan $1.5 million to TriMet and Portland will transfer nearly $973,000 from a sidewalk project.

The study — which begins this month — will also examine enhanced bus service and a no-build alternative but a streetcar is the mode preferred by most local officials. It would utilize the Willamette Shoreline, a former railroad right-of-way parallel to Highway 43 now used for weekend vintage trolley operation.

"The sooner we do the project, the less costly it is," Brant Williams, capital projects manager for the city of Lake Oswego, told The Lake Oswego Review. "If we will keep momentum on the project at this point, we'll be positioned to ... go after any new federal funding that becomes available."

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