Protesters don't stop signing ceremony

by: Nick Fochtman, Art Crino of Tigard joined over a dozen people from Clackamas County in protesting the $1.5 billion Portland-to-Milwaukie light rail project.

Government officials from across the region gathered under a tent in Southeast Portland to celebrate the signing of the federal government's commitment to pay half the cost of the MAX line to Milwaukie on Tuesday morning.

They were greeted by over a dozen anti-light rail protesters from Clackamas County who carried signs denouncing the $1.5 billion project as a "boondoggle" that would export Portland-style density and crime to their communities.

The protesters included former Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow, who forced Clackamas County Chair Charlotte Lehan, a project supporter, into a November runoff election.

"They just aren't getting the messege that we don't want this project," Ludlow said about those gathered under the tent.

In fact, none of the speakers acknowledged the protesters or mentioned the successful initiative drive that placed a measure on the September Special Election ballot requiring a public vote on any rail projects that Clackamas County would contribute money or resources toward.

But when she spoke, Lehan praised the project as part of a growing transit system that would bring transportation options to county residents.

Lehan also signed a replica of the Full Funding Grant Agreement that Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff had signed earlier while touring South Waterfront and the Oregon Health and Sciences University, beneficiaries of earlier and current transit investments.

Others signing the replica agreement included Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, and Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson.

"This sends a message that says, full speed ahead," TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said at the end of the signing ceremony.