Milwaukie Orange Line opens to fanfare
The long-awaited Orange Line opened between downtown Portland and North Clackamas County on Saturday.
For the inaugural ride on Saturday morning, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown joined Therese McMillan of the Federal Transit Administration, Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, and hundreds of other elected officials and key stakeholders who partnered to bring the newest light-rail line to fruition.
The 7.3-mile line opened on Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. All transit service is free all day Sept. 12, including all TriMet service, Portland Streetcar and Portland Aerial Tram, so the public can experience more connections to jobs, schools and other activities for the growing Portland region.
With so much excitement around the Orange Line opening, TriMet was expecting big crowds. The transit agency reminded the public those traveling with large strollers or bikes may have longer waits for space on the trains due to the crowds.
The newest bridge along the Portland skyline, Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, is the only bridge of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to MAX, Portland Streetcar, buses and bicycles and pedestrians.
At the southern end of the line, officials celebrated a new rail line that overcame major obstacles such as the Clackamas County-wide vote in 2012 to force future votes on light-rail spending. Despite the federal government only providing 50 percent of the $1.49 billion project, rather than 60 percent as originally expected, TriMet did a good job avoiding a line that seems value-engineered, said Milwaukie spokesman Grady Wheeler.
For the bridge crossing McLoughlin Boulevard, for example, TriMet engineers listened to citizens who wanted a design more in harmony with the existing Union Pacific bridge; the bridge includes cable stays rather than concrete railings, notched concrete pillars rather than plain concrete blocks and a weathered articulated steel undercarriage. Under the light-rail bridge, a pedestrian crossing over Kellogg Lake is slated for completion in November.
"When I walk along the alignment, I see all of those little things that make the light-rail line unique to Milwaukie," Wheeler said.
The inaugural train left the Park Avenue Station in North Clackamas County at 8:30 a.m. Other guests included U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici; Portland Mayor Charlie Hales; Multnomah and Clackamas County commissioners; Metro President Tom Hughes and ODOT Director Matt Garrett.
When the train arrived at Tilikum Crossing 20 minutes later, members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, drumming in full regalia, led the inaugural ride over the bridge.
Community celebrations and street fairs being held at most stations, include:
1. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde's traditional salmon bake at Tilikum Village, an interactive Native American village at Zidell Yards at the foot of Tilikum Crossing in South Waterfront.
2. Booths and entertainment near the OMSI/SE Water Ave Station, on the east side of Tilikum Crossing, include BridgePorts Orange Line IPA and musical performances courtesy of the Portland Opera.
3. A street fair near the 12th Avenue Station featuring music, art booths and food including Salt & Straws Orange Line-inspired ice cream.
4. A block party next to the Milwaukie Main Street Station with entertainment, food carts and family activities.
5. A party atop the Park Avenue Stations Park & Ride with tunes, treats and activities including the North Clackamas Parks Recmobile.