by: TRIBUNE PHOTO BY ADAM WICKHAM - Officials at the Tilikum Crossing ceremony included (from left) Oregon U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, and Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.Representatives from governments on both sides of the Willamette River met in the center of the Tilikum Crossing Bridge to symbolically mark the connection of the two halves of the new MAX crossing on Friday.

The bridge is part of the $1.49 billion Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail project. The concrete joining the east and west sides of the bridge was poured last month.

"This is an exciting day. This is how we will do transportation projects in the 21st Century," said Oregon 1st District Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, who supported the project in both the Oregon Legislature and U.S. Congress.

Bonamici was among those officials walking from the west end of the bridge, near the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building that is nearing completion. Others included Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Manager Jason Tell, and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, who supported the project when she was in the Oregon Legislature.

Walking from the east end near OMSI were Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, Clackamas County Commissioner Jim Bernard, Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson, and Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley.

The two groups met in the center of the bridge under a large sign with big red bow that read, "Tying Our Region Together."

"It's symbolic that we met in the middle and did it together," McFarlane said. The complete name of the bridge is Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. It is the first multi-modal bridge in the U.S. to carry light rail and streetcar trains, buses, bikes and pedestrians, but no private vehicles. It is also the first bridge built over the Willamette River in Portland in more

than 40 years, and will be the first cable-stayed bridge for the region, extending 1,720 feet — approximately one-third of a mile — over the river.

The new MAX line is scheduled to open on Sept. 12, 2015. It will run 7.3 miles from the southeast end of Portland State University in downtown Portland to Milwaukie. It will include 10 stations and expand the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 station in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

The Federal Transit Administration is paying 50 percent of the project costs. Other funding partners include the State of Oregon, City of Portland, Portland Development Commission, Clackamas County, Metro, City of Milwaukie, Multnomah County, City of Oregon City, Oregon Department of Transportation and TriMet.

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