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New trolley will run on shorter route

A new trolley is coming to town.

The city of Lake Oswego has agreed to lease two working replicas of Portland’s old Council Crest streetcars from Vintage Trolley Inc. to run along the Willamette River shoreline.

Lake Oswego retired its old trolley car last spring. At that point, the No. 813, built in 1932, hadn’t run for a couple of years because of mechanical problems. In addition, construction work on the Sellwood Bridge, at the north end of the trolley’s six-mile run, had created additional problems.

With two new trolley cars, the city will be able to revive the service — although on a shorter route.

The trolley line will initially offer a “pretty short trip,” Assistant City Manager Brant Williams told the city council last month. The trip will begin in Lake Oswego and travel to a trestle about a half-mile north of the Elk Rock Tunnel.

“That would start hopefully in spring 2013 if everything comes together,” Williams said.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Rod Cox, general manager of the Willamette trolley, stands next to the antique Willamette Shore Trolley car in Lake Oswego's trolley barn off State Street last spring. While this 1932 streetcar was sent off for restoration work at the Oregon Electric Railway Museum in Brooks, a new vintage replica will soon be rolling on the tracks in Lake Oswego.

The city council also approved a project that will replace and fix portions of the tunnel to ensure the trolley can safely pass through it by the spring.

Eventually, the trolley line will again extend to the Sellwood Bridge. However, it will no longer go any farther north, as the new Sellwood Bridge, expected to be built over the next few years, will block its path to Portland.

As a result, Multnomah County will pay the consortium to offset lost revenues “from not being able to pass through the Sellwood Bridge area,” Williams said.

In addition, Multnomah County will pay to use the right of way during construction and will upgrade some components of the rail line in the right of way, providing new ties, stabilizing the slope and improving drainage.

Members of a government consortium oversee the line itself to ensure the public preserves the historical right of way for a future mass-transit route. The consortium, which includes the cities of Lake Oswego and Portland, Metro, Clackamas County, TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation, bought the Willamette Shore Line right of way in the 1980s. Members pay dues to cover maintenance and operations.

When the line is in service, crews made up of members of the nonprofit Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society operate the trolley.

The lease for two new trolleys will take effect in February and will last through Jan. 31, 2018. It has no cost for the consortium, although the group will have to pay for some improvements to make the cars operational, Williams told the city council in December.

The trolleys will be stored in Lake Oswego’s trolley barn in the Foothills area. Having two will allow the city to have a backup in case one of the cars needs work.



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