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Low-floor rail vehicles heighten Tri-Met's extension plans


Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (Tri-Met) Oct. 4 ordered 17 low-floor rail vehicles from Sacramento, Calif.-based Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. at a cost of more than $50 million.

Seventy percent of the cars’ floor space is designated low floor with four doors on each side 14 inches above the top of the rail. Passenger-activated bridgeplates extend to accommodate passengers with wheelchairs or other wheeled conveyances. The vehicles seat 72 passengers, and have space for four wheelchairs.

Tri-Met plans to use the cars on its 5.8-mile Interstate MAX extension opening in 2004. Interstate MAX would begin at the Rose Quarter Transit Center and travel north on Portland, Ore.-owned Interstate Avenue to the Expo Center.

Interstate MAX plans evolved from a former South/North proposal. When the proposal failed, the business community and neighborhood representatives approached Tri-Met, asking the agency to present new plans that would cost less and not displace homes or businesses, says Tri-Met Director of Communication, Mary Fetsch.

Tri-Met’s response, Interstate MAX, has no provisions for additional property taxes. Instead, the extension would be funded by Tri-Met ($38.5 million), Regional Transportation funds ($24 million), the city of Portland ($30 million), and the Federal Transit Administration.

On Sept. 20, FTA awarded a $257.5 million Full Funding Grant Agreement to the Interstate MAX project, subject to full Congressional approval. On Oct. 3, $7.5 million was appropriated for fiscal-year 2001 work on the project.

Tri-Met plans to begin construction in November and start service in 2004. A 5.5-mile Airport MAX extension already is under way and slated to open next fall. When both extensions are complete, MAX’s entire system will expand from 33 miles to 44.3 miles.

Kathi Kube

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More News from 10/6/2000