Progress on the light rail line is visible in spots all along the route in Clackamas County

Orange is fashion’s hottest color right now, but Clackamas County residents are already starting to get a close look at the color, as construction on the new Milwaukie MAX Orange Line inches toward the city.

During a tour of the construction, Claudia Steinberg, Orange Line project manager, and TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch, answered questions and offered insight into what was happening in the county as MAX makes its way here.

Steinberg attended Milwaukie Elementary School and Rex Putnam High School, so she knows that Milwaukie has a “strong sustainability group.” Tree removal and other environmental concerns top the list of citizen concerns, followed by what is happening along McLoughlin Boulevard, safety measures and impacts on property owners along the PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Local residents often stop at the southernmost end of Main Street in Milwaukie to watch the construction of a light-rail bridge across Kellogg Lake.

Question: What is happening with tree removal?

Answer: About 780 to 830 trees will be removed along the alignment, but Steinberg wants county residents to know that nearly 2,000 trees will be replanted along the route; and yes, those trees will be native species. Fetsch added that TriMet is already purchasing the trees, so they will have at least two years of growth when they are planted.

Other trees will be planted for mitigation in riparian and natural areas in the county.

Steinberg also noted that not one twig, leaf or branch will be wasted; some material will be turned into compost; some wood will go to the Milwaukie Center for seniors to use as firewood; and some will go to artists, who will create art to be displayed along the Trolley Trail (not at the stations, as a previous version of this story stated).

In addition, large woody debris from the trees will be used in stream restoration projects along Johnson Creek, and to improve fish habitat, Steinberg said.

She added that tree removal along the Trolley Trail, on the east side of Southeast 27th Avenue, begins in early September. The Island Station Neighborhood Association will hold a small ceremony to honor the trees, before cutting begins.

Q: What other environmental concerns are being addressed?

A: TriMet is partnering with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, which is raising money to build a viewing area along the creek at the Tacoma site. The organization will also have educational signs there, Steinberg said.

Work is going on at Kellogg Lake, but federal law requires that the equipment “has to be out of the water by Aug. 30, to protect migratory fish,” Fetsch said.

Other environmental measures include a new culvert for Crystal Springs Creek and installation of bioswales along the light-rail route, Steinberg said.

In addition, a federal wildlife biologist has been checking to ensure that the project is in compliance with federal laws protecting birds, especially during nesting season.

Q: What is happening along McLoughlin Boulevard right now? What is all that equipment for?

A: A lot is going on along that corridor, is the short answer.

“The pillars that are visible at McLoughlin and Tacoma are supports for the bridges that will carry light-rail trains over the on/off ramp for northbound McLoughlin and over Johnson Creek,” Fetsch said.

The large, white trailer mounted on about 12-foot supports saying “Stacy and Witbeck Inc., General Engineering Contractors,” near the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store, is a water tank for use along the project. That site is also used for storage, including rocks, rail piles, cranes and rebar cages for drilled shafts. The contractor has also set up a carpentry area and holds safety meetings on-site.

“There is lots of work here along Mailwell Drive in the industrial area, including moving tracks around and installing and protecting sewer lines and water lines,” Steinberg said.

Q: What businesses and private homes will be affected?

A: One thing Steinberg said she wants people to know — the downtown Milwaukie Post Office will be staying where it is. When one home near Lark Street and 27th Avenue was demolished, Steinberg said, the Rebuilding Center took out fixtures and hardwood floors for reuse. In the North Industrial Area, the only business being relocated is Beaver Heat Treating, she said. The River Road House and DaVinci’s on McLoughlin Boulevard have been demolished.

Steinberg said that the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project website, at, is the best source for information on the project.

Q: What new infrastructure will people see along the route and what safety features will be put in place?

A: “One of the city’s key projects is to improve salmon and fish habitat,” Fetsch said, while Steinberg added that “the MAX project is paying for improvements to streets, waterlines, bike lanes and sidewalks.”

The bridge over Kellogg Lake will also include a pedestrian bridge that the Island Station neighbors are excited about, Steinberg said.

The project’s park-and-ride lots will all be secure and have cameras, Steinberg said. Retaining walls will be put in place for erosion control, and water and sewer lines will get protective casings, she added.

The area near the Portland Waldorf School will be upgraded to a quiet zone, so trains will not have to sound their horns as much as they do in other areas, Fetsch said. That same area will get “quad gates with digital bells for pedestrians,” Steinberg said, noting that quad gates are four gates that will completely close off the road when a train is coming through, and the digital bells will further alert walkers to the train’s passage.

Washington Street will also get quad gates, but Monroe Street is too narrow for quad gates, so a median will be installed on both sides of the tracks, so cars cannot go around the two gates that come down.

Q: What’s going to be happening during the next phase of MAX construction?

A: The southern end of Main Street, near Dogwood Park, will soon close for more than a year, until Kellogg Lake bridge construction is complete, Steinberg said. People can still deposit mail at the post boxes, and the postal department will still have access to the boxes, she added.

People will start seeing bridge construction, columns rising, road work and trees being removed, Steinberg said. Tracks will not be put in place until much later and landscaping work is set for 2014, she noted.

Fast Facts

For information about the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project, visit

To contact the Citizens Advisory Committee, call TriMet Community Affairs, 503-962-2150.

Contact Mary Fetsch, 503-962-6403, or email her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Claudia Steinberg, 503-962-2154, or [email protected]

Contract Publishing

Go to top