Rail Construction in Portland
Author: Tom McCann
Date: 06-17-2007 - 11:58

The regional rail line between the Portland, Ore. suburbs of Beaverton and Wilsonville continues to take shape. At the northern end of the line, the stretch between SW 5th Avenue and Hall Boulevard in Beaverton is now double track, complete with CWR and concrete ties. Crews reconstructing this segment also completely rebuilt the Beburg siding, where Portland & Western often parks its trains.

The segment of the line through downtown Tigard is now also double track on the old SP Tillamook Branch alignment, and crews are now removing the tracks on the old BN (Oregon Electric) alignment between SW North Dakota Avenue and SW Hall Boulevard. The old track connection at Greton is now severed, and a new connection is now in place just south of Hall Boulevard.

Station location work has begun at the south end of the line in Wilsonville. A dispute over parking capacity and potential traffic congestion at the projected Tualatin station site has delayed work there, and the station may not be complete when the line opens in 2008. In Tigard, station work should commence as soon as the tracks on the old OE alignment are completely removed adjacent to the Tigard Transit Center.

Probably the largest single sub-project is the installation of the new track between SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and the Beaverton Transit Center. The new track will diverge off the existing ex-SP Tillamook Branch alignment here, and head north parallel to Lombard Street (Wells Fargo had to raze a bank building here to free up space for the alignment).

The line will cross Broadway and go down the middle of Lombard Street between Broadway and Canyon Road, proceeding north past Canyon into the transit center, where a platform will go into the south end of the complex. Here trains will make convenient cross-platform connections with TriMet MAX Blue Line (Gresham-Hillsboro) and Red Line (Beaverton-Portland International Airport) light rail trains and TriMet bus routes. For rolling stock, TriMet and P&W will use a small fleet of Colorado Railcar Aero DMUs and trailers.

Elsewhere in the Portland area, construction of the Green Line light rail route is ongoing in two locations. Grading and excavation are underway along the Interstate 205 alignment south of Gateway Transit Center, where crews are utilizing a never-used transitway constructed alongside the freeway between Gateway and SE Foster Road. A new underpass is going in at SE Stark Street and a new overpass at SE Powell Boulevard.

South of Foster, crews must shoehorn the light rail alignment in alongside the freeway, an adjacent multi-use recreational trail, and existing residential and commercial properties all the way to Clackamas Town Center.

In downtown Portland, some sections of track are already in place along 5th and 6th Avenues (the downtown transit mall). When the line opens in 2009, this segment will include a direct stop serving Portland Union Station, offering intermodal connections to Amtrak trains. Station platform work has also begun along this alignment.

The Siemens S70 light rail cars TriMet has on order will, according one TriMet source, operate as married pairs, with no operator's cab on the inside ends. This will preclude TriMet from pairing the new cars with its older Siemens and Bombardier rolling stock.

In the South Waterfront District south of downtown, the next extension of the Portland Streetcar is nearing completion. Track and trolley wire is in place and station platforms are almost done along SW Moody, SW Lowell and SW Bond, where the extension loops around new residential and commercial buildings. Service along this section is due to begin later this year.

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  Rail Construction in Portland Tom McCann 06-17-2007 - 11:58

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