Representatives from Congress, the city of Portland, Metro, state legislators, Clackamas County and the city of Milwaukie celebrated that the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project reached its 50 percent construction completion milestone on Thursday.

Construction on the 7.3-mile line began in May 2012 along the entire line between downtown Portland and North Clackamas County; the bridge construction over the Willamette River began in July 2011.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: TRIMET - TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane (from left), State Sen. Rod Monroe, OHSU's Brian Newman, Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, State Rep. Carolyn Tomei and Clackamas County Commissioner Jim Bernard celebrate the 50 percent completion milestone for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project on Thursday.Light-rail projects are regional collaborations, leaders noted; they take 12 to 15 years to go from an idea to construction and opening. TriMet also announced that the opening date for the region’s sixth MAX line will be in 779 days on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

Also in attendance were representatives for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Congressman Kurt Schrader and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.

The event took place at Southwest First and Lincoln, where the line crosses a new rail bridge from South Waterfront into downtown Portland.

Speaking at the event, state Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukie) said the Legislature approved the first significant funds for the project, which allocated $250 million in Oregon State Lottery funds for the new transit bridge over the Willamette River in 2007.

Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette called the project “breathtaking,” saying it will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emission by giving motorists in southeast Portland and Clackamas County an alternative to driving.

“It will help keep the planet alive by giving people a choice to not have to drive everywhere,” Collette said.

Four of those in attendance had served on the Milwaukie City Council while the project was being planned and authorized. Brian Newman, director of campus planning, development and real estate for OHSU, referred to them as members of “an urban progressive cell” committed to the project.

Anti-light rail activists in Clackamas County have tried unsuccessfully to block the project from crossing the Multnomah County border. TriMet has prevailed in a court case to make Clackamas County abide by the agreements it signed to site and fund the project.

Coming up, members of the public can join light-rail project staff on Tuesday, Aug. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Milwaukie Elks Lodge, 13121 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., to view and discuss the 50 percent design plans for the new Southeast Park Ave MAX Station Park & Ride garage.

Design elements include: electric-vehicle charging stations, enclosed secure bike-parking spaces and a solar roof garden. Also learn more about the Nature in Neighborhood capital grant for including green features at the light-rail station and Park & Ride.

Construction on the garage is scheduled to begin this winter.

Editor’s note: This online story has been updated from an earlier version to reflect the correct amount allocated by the Legislature and to make clear that representatives of Oregon’s congressional delegation were in attendance. We regret the errors.

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