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Eastside Streetcar to Start Construction in June 2009

Portland City Commissioners have voted to spend $6.3 million dollars to help jump start the planned eastside extension of the popular Portland Streetcar.  Current plans call for a new line to be built from the existing line in the Pearl District, across the Broadway Bridge to the Rose Quarter and the Lloyd District before heading south on MLK Boulevard and Grand Avenue to OMSI.  Discussions area already being held on the idea of a future extension along Milwaukie Avenue so that streetcar service could be extended to the Brooklyn and Sellwood-Moreland Neighborhoods.

Administrators at the Federal Transit Administration have been reluctant to approve funds for the Portland Streetcar so far.  The existing streetcar line has been funded with a mix of city and regional funds.   City and Regional officials are hopeful that this time around that the Federal Government will pay for $75 million of the needed $147 million needed to extend service to the Central Eastside.

Federal officials contend that the streetcar moves very few people, and at speeds that are too slow to be condisered effective public transportation.  Local officials contend that the streetcar serves its function well as a local circulator that promotes livability through increased pedestrian activity.  The streetcar line also appears to be successful in promoting economic redevelopment.

Final Engineering on the Eastside Streetcar project will now move forward.  Assuming that the Federal funds do in fact come through, than construction would begin in the June of 2009.  Service would then begin sometime in 2011.

Future streetcar extensions could have a lasting impact on the Brooklyn neighborhood.  The extension to the Central Eastside will provide a direct transit connection for riders using the new Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail line.  A new transit center will be built near OMSI to provide connections between the streetcar, MAX, major bus lines, and the Springwater Corridor trail.  Bike and pedestrian access to this planned transit hub will also be much improved once the new MLK/Grand Viaduct is complete in a few years.

Work is also moving forward on a potential streetcar line along SE Milwaukie Avenue.  This line would follow Milwaukie Avenue from Powell Boulevard to SE Tacoma Street.  Service could continue west along Tacoma to the Sellwood Bridge, and/or east to the planned Tacome Street Transit Center planned for the area near McLoughlin Boulevard.

Please see the following website for more streetcar related plans: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/streetcarsystemplan

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