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A reliability problem is found involving MAX elevators; the Rhine St elevators are first to be fixed

DAVID F. ASHTON - With construction fences pulled back, pedestrians use the stairs of the TriMets Rhine-Lafayette Pedestrian Overpass; an elevator tower is at right. After the rickety wooden pedestrian overpass, built in the early 1940s, was demolished, it was replaced with TriMet's Rhine-Lafayette Pedestrian Overpass, constructed over the Union Pacific Railroad Brooklyn Yard as part of the Portland-Milwaukie MAX Light Rail Transit Project that started in 2014.

The $3.9 million project, opened on September 2, 2015, was a boon to walkers and bicyclists – featuring glass elevator cabs at each end of the span, large enough to accommodate bicycles with trailers, or a child's tag-along attachment.

However, this remarkable structure was constructed with a failing: That flaw caused it to be closed for construction that began on November 26, 2018 and which took the elevators out of service on December 3.

"The improvements are being made because the elevators did have occasional weather-related issues, especially during extreme heat," conceded TriMet Public Information Officer Tim Becker.

The project required full closure of the overpass at times, as contractors installed HVAC equipment inside the elevator towers to regulate the temperature and humidity year-round, Becker said. "We also installed canopies over both elevator towers and adding drainage at the base of the towers, to prevent rain from getting into the elevator mechanisms."

Scheduled to reopen on February 5, it opened a few days early, Becker told THE BEE. So, expect a drier elevator ride in the winter, and a cooler ride in the summer, "and increased reliability, year around," added Becker. Other MAX elevators on the Orange Line may soon be getting the same treatment.

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