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Portland lands $75M for streetcar loop

April 30, 2009

PORTLAND, OR.  After years of lobbying the Federal Transit
Administration by a team of local transit advocates…
After years of tenacious advocacy from our federal congressional
delegation (I want to give a special ‘shout out’ to Earl Blumenauer
and Peter DeFazio)…
…we won approval today for not just the 3.35-mile eastside streetcar
extension, but with this funding we start a new streetcar industry
here in the Portland region with an order for 16 streetcars to be
built at United Streetcar.
…and, the creation of an estimated 1,290 mostly family-wage jobs over
the next two years.
This all happened today with the announcement from U.S. Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood of his intent to grant $75 million to the
eastside streetcar project.
The Loop Project is a 3.35-mile extension of the Portland Streetcar
system currently operating on the west side running from Legacy Good
Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center in Northwest Portland through
downtown and Portland State University to South Waterfront serving
OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing, the Portland Aerial Tram and the
new development built or planned in the district. The Portland
Streetcar Loop Project will extend service to the eastside of Portland
connecting to the Lloyd District, the Central Eastside and the Oregon
Museum of Science and Industry.
This has been such a slog because even though Congressman Blumenauer
sponsored the federal legislation to fund streetcar projects, the Bush
administration threw obstacles in our way at almost every turn.
Senators Wyden and Merkley worked with Representatives DeFazio,
Blumenauer, Wu and Schrader to urge the administration to fund the
Portland Streetcar Loop. And Metro and Trimet used their clout with
the Federal Transit Administration to advance the project.
It is also important to note that Senator Merkley, then Speaker of the
Oregon Legislature, and Representative Schrader, as Oregon Senator and
Co-Chair of Ways and Means, helped lead the charge to secure $20
million in state lottery bonds to purchase Portland Streetcar Loop
vehicles. These state actions helped propel the project forward early
Portland has seen unparalleled private investment of 3.5 billion
within 3 blocks of the present streetcar line, this translates into
$30 million per year in additional revenues for the city.

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