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Last rail welded for Milwaukie MAX set to open in September

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO BY VIRGINIA WERNER - Smoke and flames rise from the therite-fueled heating pot as molten metal makes the last weld on the new MAX line in Milwaukie.The region’s next MAX line reached an important milestone Tuesday morning when workers welded the final rails together on the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project.

Flames and smoke rose from the heating pot above the rails as superheated aluminum, iron oxide, and alloy elements flowed into the small gap between them, turning to steel for a permanent connection.

“This is the last piece of rail to be welded on the Portland-Milwaukie project that has created over 12,700 jobs and will provide improved transit in Clackamas County,” TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said at the welding site, at Southeast 21st Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Milwaukie.

McFarlane also apologized to Milwaukie residents who have been inconvenienced by months of construction in their small downtown, but said it was for a “great cause.”

Milwauke Mayor Jeremy Ferguson agreed, thanking voters who approved a bond measure at the May primary election to pay the city’s share of the project.

“This is an exciting day for the city,” said Ferguson, noting the work site was between a new light-rail station and the new crossing over Kellogg Lake and the Trolley Trail that will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to connect to what TriMet calls the Orange Line.

The $1.5 billion project is the region’s sixth MAX construction project. It will provide light-rail service from Portland State University to South Waterfront, Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County. The 7.3-mile line will include 10 stations and the Tilikum Crossing over the Willamette River in Portland. It is the first multimodal bridge in the United States that will carry light-rail and streetcar trains, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians, but no private vehicles.

The new line is scheduled to open on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. When completed, it will expand the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 stations.

Project partners include: the Federal Transit Administration, the State of Oregon, Clackamas County, Metro, the city of Milwaukie, Multnomah County, the city of Oregon City, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the city of Portland, the Portland Development Commission and TriMet.

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