September 22, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Portland Bureau of Transportation
Streetcar returns to Eastside with grand opening of ‘Central Loop’
PORTLAND, Ore. -- After 25 years of anticipation and three years of construction, Portland’s newest streetcar line opened today to crowds and celebration by the local leaders who made it possible. “Get in the loop” was the day’s theme as riders experienced the Central Loop, uniting both sides of the city with attractive, affordable transit.
“Reintroducing streetcars to Portland has been a phenomenal success. Wherever streetcar goes, investments in neighborhoods and jobs follow,” Portland Mayor Sam Adams said. “Today is about uniting the central city with attractive, convenient transit and spurring development in the Rose Quarter, Lloyd District and Central Eastside. And it wouldn’t have been possible without a generous grant from the Federal Transit Administration and local commitments. I think twenty years from now this area will be more valuable, livable, and sustainable and we’ll be thankful that we acted now.”
“The Portland Streetcar has become a fixture in what makes our transit system a national symbol of what communities can do to prosper,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “This expansion continues that leadership. It nearly finishes a 25-year vision for a central city streetcar loop and begins a new, exciting chapter for the Central Eastside.”
The Central Loop is a 3.35-mile double-track extension with 28 new streetcar stops and estimates adding new riders at up to 5,000 per day. Tracks and stations opened for service from the existing line in the Pearl District and Downtown, across the Broadway Bridge and on to the Rose Quarter, Lloyd District, Convention Center and Central Eastside, ending at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry.
“From the past into the future,” said outgoing Portland Streetcar Inc. Board Chairman Michael Powell. “Streetcars connect people, neighborhoods and our city.”
“The new Streetcar service complements TriMet’s regional rail system and connects with great bus service in the central city,” TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said. “Our strong partnership with the City of Portland, Portland Streetcar Inc. and the FTA made this all a reality! That partnership will continue to benefit riders as we complete a new bridge over the Willamette that will not only extend light rail from the South Waterfront to the Eastside and Milwaukie, but also complete the Streetcar loop.”
Elected officials and local leaders who have worked to reintroduce streetcar to Portland were on hand to celebrate in a grand opening and ribbon cutting. Also there for the celebration was the first “Made in USA” streetcar in 50 years. As part of the project, the City of Portland ordered six new streetcars that will be manufactured at United Streetcar in Clackamas County.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Metro Council President Tom Hughes, FTA Region 10 Administrator Rick Krochalis, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, Portland Streetcar Emeritus Board Member Michael Powell, Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Pat Egan, Portland Development Commission Executive Director Patrick Quinton, Portland State University President Wim Wiewel, OMSI President Nancy Stueber and Portland Commissioner Nick Fish all spoke at the event. Many other dignitaries released statements of support.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said, “To remain economically competitive, Oregon is investing in its homegrown manufacturers. The State of Oregon committed $20 million to buy ‘Made in Oregon’ streetcars to run on the loop. Today, more than 100 people are working at United Streetcar to build vehicles. What a great investment in the future of our state.”
“Today’s opening of the Eastside loop with its American-made streetcars manufactured right here in Oregon is a model for things to come,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “Soon more streetcars like the ones in Portland will be moving commuters and relieving traffic congestion in Tucson, Arizona, and Washington, D.C., all while creating manufacturing jobs here in Oregon.”
“This streetcar line – complete with ‘Made in Oregon’ streetcars – is a huge win for our commuters and our economy,” Senator Jeff Merkley said.
“The streetcar project is a great example of Oregon’s leadership role in transportation, manufacturing and technology. Oregon is now the nation’s leader in the rebirth of domestic streetcar -- building the first American-made streetcar in over 50 years. This project is exactly the type of investment in domestic manufacturing the federal government should be making. It creates family-wage jobs here at home and strengthens the critical U.S. manufacturing sector,” Congressman Peter DeFazio said.
"The new Eastside line of the Portland Streetcar extends transportation options throughout the city and provides greater opportunities for folks to connect with our small businesses on both sides of the river," Congressman Kurt Schrader said. "Transportation and infrastructure investments like this are about creating jobs throughout the region, expanding commerce for our businesses and fostering growth in our local communities and neighborhoods."
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said, “The opening of the Portland Streetcar extension is a great step forward for Portland and for the whole country. As the first streetcar project to receive federal funding, metro areas around the nation are now looking to us to demonstrate how a well-planned multimodal public transportation system can benefit the whole community.”
In coordination with TriMet’s Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project, Portland Streetcar and the City of Portland are planning to “close the loop” by funding the final connections to put streetcar on a new bridge that will connect the Central Eastside and South Waterfront. Plans for a central city circulator have been in City of Portland plans since the late 1980s.
Service on the Central Loop will run seamlessly with the existing streetcar line, renamed the North South Line. The Central Loop line runs from SW Market Street Downtown on existing tracks to the Pearl before crossing to the Eastside on new tracks and turning around at OMSI. The North South line runs from SW Lowell Street in the South Waterfront through Downtown and the Pearl before turning around on NW 23rd Street in Northwest Portland on existing tracks.
The overlap of the two lines on 10th and 11th avenues results in more frequent service in heavily-used segments.
For more information, visit www.portlandstreetcar.org.