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Proposed streetcar price tag declines

Consultants fine-tuning the design and cost estimates for a proposed streetcar line from Portland to Lake Oswego believe they can shave off a large chunk of the price tag.

Project manager Doug Obletz this week released a preliminary report on the refinement phase, which is being led by Portland Streetcar Inc., one of multiple regional partners considering transit to reduce future traffic congestion on Highway 43.

An updated appraisal of the publically owned Willamette Shore Line right of way, another piece of the refinement work, is expected in about a month, along with more financing information.

Earlier cost estimates pegged the streetcar's costs at about $347 million in 2010 dollars or $458 million in 2017, when the line was projected to open.

Now, officials believe the project could actually cost about $199 million in today's dollars. However, that figure doesn't include a 400-space park-and-ride lot in Lake Oswego; with the park-and-ride facilty included, the project total is now estimated at about $208 million.

The new numbers stem from revisions to the streetcar line's route and project scope. Overall, the 'fefined alignment is straighter, shorter and has fewer impacts to be mitigated,' the report states. It also reduces the number of new streetcars and eliminates a new maintenance and storage facility.

But the new numbers don't count the value of the Willamete Shore Line right of way, which could represent a large portion of the public's share in paying for the project. Many jurisdictions, including the federal government, are expected to contribute.

The local concept shifted earlier this year when those involved in crafting a development plan for the Foothills area of Lake Oswego, where the streetcar line would end, decided to shorten the route, keeping the terminus north of what was outlined in the original design.

There are additional changes, including a switch from a double track to a single track in a two-mile stretch in the Dunthorpe and Riverdale area. Officials don't believe that will impact travel times. Also, a single overhead wire is now recommended over a double-wire overhead system, reducing the 'visual impact,' according to the report.

The refined alignment includes two more stations than past versions of the plan, including a stop at Radcliff Street to better serve Lewis and Clark College near Dunthorpe.

In Portland, the streetcar is now expected to enter and exit Macadam Avenue at Bancroft Street - an idea previously rejected because of traffic concerns and other factors, according to the report. This option will likely require Portland to take jurisdiction of Macadam Avenue from the state.

The document also now designates the park-and-ride facility in Lake Oswego as an 'alternate cost' requiring more analysis and noting it could be partly paid through 'other development initiatives in Lake Oswego.'

Without going all the way to Lake Oswego, the line's extension could end at Nevada Street in Portland for a total project cost of about $69 million, the report says.