MAX Orange Line
The MAX Orange Line is a light rail service in Portland, Oregon, United states, operated by TriMet as part of the MAX Light Rail system. It connects Portland City Center in the north to Portland State University (PSU), Southeast Portland, Milwaukie, and Oak Grove in the south. The line originates as a southbound through service of the Yellow Line at Union Station/Northwest 5th & Glisan station from where it serves the 5th Avenue segment of the Portland Transit Mall alongside the Green Line. On the northbound segment of the transit mall on 6th Avenue, the Orange Line through operates into the Yellow Line bound for Expo Center station in North Portland. South of the transit mall, the Orange Line operates a two-track, 7.3-mile (11.7 km) segment that terminates in Oak Grove, just outside of Milwaukie proper in unincorporated Clackamas County. It serves 17 stations between Union Station and Southeast Park Avenue. Service runs for approximately 21 hours daily with a minimum headway of 15 minutes during most of the day.
The $1.49 billion Portland–Milwaukie light rail project was the second part of a two-phase plan known as the South Corridor transportation project, which expanded light rail service to Interstate 205 (I-205) and the Portland Transit Mall in its first phase. This MAX extension, which followed years of failed light rail plans for Clackamas County, began construction work in mid-2011. As part of the project, TriMet built the first major "car-free" bridge in the country, known as Tilikum Crossing, over the Willamette River. The line opened on September 12, 2015. It carried an average of 11,500 daily weekday riders in September 2019.
Background and early proposals
In 1975, amid calls for the transfer of Mount Hood Freeway funds to other projects in the Portland region, the Columbia Region Association of Governments (CRAG) proposed five "transitway" corridors emanating from the center of Portland. This interim plan, which CRAG adopted the following month, envision a light rail corridor from downtown Portland to Oregon City and another from Milwaukie to Lents, both primarily along old Portland Traction Company rights-of-way. Indecision regarding the exact use of the transfer money, as requested by the Federal Highway Administration, led to a delay in acquiring the funds. That November, TriMet lost its option to purchase used PCC streetcars from Toronto, which it had hoped to use on the proposed Portland–Oregon City line, after the Toronto Transit Commission declined to renew TriMet's hold.
After several studies and years of planning, Metro (the successor to CRAG) adopted a regional transportation plan in 1982 that redirected priority to an eventual light rail line in the Banfield Corridor.
In the mid-1990s, light rail was planned again along much of this corridor as part of the proposed South–North Line, which would have run from Clackamas Town Center to Milwaukie, then north to Downtown Portland and along Interstate Avenue to Vancouver, Washington. In November 1994, "nearly two-thirds" of voters in the Oregon part of the Portland metropolitan area voted in support of a $475 million bond issue to provide the local-area share (Oregon portion) of the project's estimated $2.8 billion cost. However, three months later, a majority of voters in Clark County, Washington, rejected a sales tax and vehicle excise tax to provide that county's $237.5 million share of the South-North project's funding, leading eventually to those plans' being shelved. (Plans for a MAX line north from downtown Portland along Interstate Avenue were later revived, as the Yellow Line, but without the portion extending across the Columbia River to Vancouver, and this opened in 2004.)
Planning for light rail connecting Portland with Clackamas County later resumed. After public meetings it was decided that the first MAX line to Clackamas County should be along Interstate 205, from Gateway to Clackamas Town Center, but that this would be phase 1 of a two-part expansion of the MAX system, with a Portland–Milwaukie line as phase 2. The I-205 line opened in 2009, as the MAX Green Line.
Revival and funding
Meanwhile, planning for the Portland–Milwaukie line continued, including study of, and public input on, several different alternatives for the exact route. In 2008, the Locally Preferred Alternative was chosen. The MAX Light Rail to Milwaukie would terminate at Park Avenue station rather than Lake Road, as originally planned in 2003.
On April 5, 2011, the Federal Transit Administration approved the start of the project's final design; at that time, design work was roughly thirty percent complete and projected to be finished in about a year. The approval meant that TriMet could begin purchasing right-of-way and some construction materials.
Construction began on June 30, 2011, initially limited to work at the site of Tilikum Crossing over the Willamette River, but right-of-way preparation work (such as removal of trees) began in the southern part of downtown Portland in late September 2011. During planning and construction, the new bridge being built for the line used the temporary name of Portland–Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge, but in April 2014 it was officially named Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People.
In July 2013, the project reached 50-percent completion. The line was tentatively scheduled to open on September 12, 2015.
As part of construction, safety improvements were made at the SE 8th, 11th, and 12th avenues crossings in Southeast Portland, and the SE Mailwell Drive, SE Harrison, Monroe and Washington streets, and 21st Avenue crossings in Milwaukie. This allows these crossings to be designated quiet zones, where Union Pacific Railroad, Portland and Western Railroad and MAX trains do not have to use their horns (four times per safety regulations) when going through an intersection.
As construction finished in March 2015, the line was under budget in the range of $10 million to $40 million. After a petition from Jeff Merkley, the Federal Transit Administration approved the addition of switch heaters, catenary ice caps, and additional station shelters, totaling $3.6 million, which were deferred from the original plans during the funding agreement with the FTA. However, the remaining 50% matching funds from the FTA must be returned, leaving the excess local funds in the range of $5 million to $20 million after the funding process is complete in 2019. These TriMet bond funds can only be used for capital projects, due to the conditions under which they were raised.
The Orange Line originates at a three-track stub terminal at Park Avenue and McLoughlin Boulevard in Oak Grove, just south of Milwaukie proper. The line runs at grade alongside McLoughlin Boulevard until it reaches 22nd Avenue. Here, the line leaves McLoughlin Boulevard via an elevated viaduct called the Kellogg Bridge. The viaduct takes the line across Kellogg Lake, and into the next stop at downtown Milwaukie. From here past the location of a proposed infill station at Harold Street, the Orange Line runs parallel to active Portland and Western and Union Pacific Railroad rights-of-way and McLoughlin Boulevard.:15–16 At Southeast 17th Avenue, the Orange Line turns north, and runs in the median of 17th Avenue, with stops at Holgate Boulevard and Rhine Street. After passing Pershing Street, the line leaves the median of 17th Avenue and again runs alongside the Union Pacific tracks until just southeast of OMSI, making an intermediate stop at 12th Avenue and Clinton Street.
After stopping at OMSI, the Orange Line tracks merge with those of the Portland Streetcar's Loop Service and cross the Tilikum Crossing bridge. After the MAX station at South Waterfront, at the southwest end of the bridge, the Streetcar tracks split off and join the tracks of that system's North/South Line. Leaving the station, the Orange Line crosses Moody Avenue and ascends toward and onto an elevated viaduct taking it over various streets and gradually turning west to enter Southwest Lincoln Street at Naito Parkway. The line runs in the median of Lincoln Street to a stop at SW 3rd Avenue and then continues along Lincoln to 5th Avenue, where it and enters the Portland Transit Mall at the PSU South station. Northbound trains pass through the MAX terminal loop adjacent to the PSU South station en route to 6th Avenue, the northbound transit mall street.
The Portland–Milwaukie extension, served exclusively by the Orange Line, consists of ten stations between Lincoln Street/Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southeast Park Avenue. Of these ten stations, two are located within and just outside of the city of Milwaukie in Clackamas County. Orange Line trains serve 17 stations total; the remaining seven are located in downtown Portland along the southbound segment of the Portland Transit Mall on 5th Avenue and are shared with the Green Line. Transfers to the Yellow Line, which runs northbound from the PSU South stations in downtown Portland to the Expo Center, can be made at any of the seven stations along the transit corridor's 6th Avenue alignment, although most northbound Orange Line trains through operate into the Yellow Line.
Transfers to the Blue Line and the Red Line are available at Pioneer Place/Southwest 5th station. Additionally, the Orange Line provides connections to local and intercity bus services at several stops across the line, Amtrak near Union Station/Northwest 5th & Glisan station, and the Portland Streetcar at the PSU Urban Center/Southwest 5th & Mill and OMSI/Southeast Water stations.
|↓||Southbound travel only|
|Station||Location||Commenced||Line transfers||Other connections and notes[a]|
|Union Station/Northwest 5th & Glisan†↓||Portland
|2015||Amtrak Greyhound, POINT, TCTDServes Portland Union Station|
|Northwest 5th & Couch↓||2015||—|
|Southwest 5th & Oak↓||2015||—|
|Pioneer Place/Southwest 5th↓||2015||Serves the Pioneer Courthouse, Pioneer Courthouse Square|
|City Hall/Southwest 5th & Jefferson↓||2015||—|
|PSU Urban Center/Southwest 5th & Mill↓||2015||Portland StreetcarServes Portland State University|
|PSU South/Southwest 5th and Jackson↓||2015||Serves Portland State University|
|Lincoln Street/Southwest 3rd Avenue||Portland||2015||—||—|
|South Waterfront/Southwest Moody||2015||—||Portland StreetcarServes OHSU Robertson Life Sciences Building, Tilikum Crossing|
|OMSI/Southeast Water||2015||—||Portland StreetcarServes OMSI, Tilikum Crossing|
|Clinton Street/Southeast 12th Avenue||2015||—||—|
|Southeast 17th Avenue and Rhine Street||2015||—||—|
|Southeast 17th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard||2015||—||—|
|Southeast Bybee Boulevard||2015||—||—|
|Southeast Tacoma/Johnson Creek||2015||—||—|
|Southeast Park Avenue†||2015||—||—|
The Orange Line is interlined with the Yellow Line. Upon arrival at Union Station, southbound Yellow Line trains become Orange Line trains before they travel along the Portland Transit Mall. Likewise, inbound Orange Line trains become Yellow Line trains upon arrival at the PSU South MAX stations before traveling north on the Portland Transit Mall. Thus, on northbound Orange Line trains, the colored square denoting the route color flashes yellow and orange, and the destination sign flashes "City Center - Expo Center," indicating that the train will become a Yellow Line train upon entering the Transit Mall. The reverse happens on southbound Yellow Line trains.
During peak hours, some Orange Line trains do not become Yellow Line trains and instead loop back along the Transit Mall to return to Milwaukie. This is due to higher projected ridership along the Orange Line than the Yellow Line.
A new bus line 291-Orange Night Bus runs south from downtown to Milwaukie, shadowing the Orange Line route, after 11:30 p.m. The purpose of this was to allow the last Orange Line trains to return to TriMet's Ruby Junction maintenance and operations facility earlier, preserving the existing early-morning window that TriMet uses for maintenance work on the system.
Although this project was planned for many years, it faced strong opposition by opponents of perceived encroachment of Portland townscape on their communities, so-called "Portland Creep". In September 2012, opponents succeeded in passing a ballot initiative requiring that all Clackamas County spending on light rail be directly approved by the voters.
- This list of service connections excludes TriMet bus connections. For a complete list that includes all transfers, see: List of MAX Light Rail stations.
- Most Orange Line trains on the Portland Transit Mall travel southbound only. Most northbound trains through operate into the Yellow Line bound for Expo Center in North Portland at PSU South/Southwest 6th and College.
- "September 2019 Monthly Performance Report" (PDF). TriMet. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
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- "Portland–Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge Fact Sheet" (PDF). TriMet. August 2012. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
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- Rose, Joseph (July 26, 2013). "TriMet announces opening date for Portland-Milwaukie light rail line". The Oregonian. p. B3. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
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- "SE Park Ave Station Area" (PDF). TriMet. October 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
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- "Milwaukie/Main Street station area". TriMet. October 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
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- "SE 17th Avenue: Holgate Boulevard and Rhine Street stations". TriMet. October 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
- Google (January 20, 2020). "45°29'55.9"N 122°38'53.6"W" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
- Google (January 20, 2020). "OMSI/SE Water MAX Station" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
- "Clinton/SE 12th Ave Station". TriMet. October 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
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