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MAX track work wraps up, trains return to regular schedule

COURTESY PHOTO: TRIMET - TriMet crews checked as a train rolled on replaced track on Southwest First Avenue Friday, May 20. The two-week replacement project is just about finished, and trains will return to regular schedules on Sunday, May 22.TriMet’s MAX trains return to their regular schedules Sunday, May 22, after work on original light-rail tracks on First Avenue was completed.

The two-week project that began May 8 rejuvenated a section of the original MAX alignment. TriMet had to shuffle schedules and routes to avoid the project. TriMet warned riders to brace for packed trains running on revised scheduled.

It was the biggest rail replacement project in MAX history. The area is part of the original MAX alignment that opened Sept. 5, 1986. During the project, crews replaced track switches on First Avenue near Southwest Morrison Street and near Northwest Couch Street. They pulled out old wooden ties and other material and replaced them with longer-lasting materials.

They also replaced curved rail in the eastbound track way near the Skidmore Fountain.

A test train rumbled through the new rail sections and switches Friday afternoon, May 20. Some work will be finished on Saturday, May 21, and Blue and Red lines will return to regular downtown routes Sunday morning.

After serving riders for 30 years, there are more upgrades and replacements on the MAX system that must be done. Beginning Aug. 21 through Sept. 3, crews will tackle the next major project, this one in the Rose Quarter Transit Center area. Crews will replace switches as well as realign the track just east of the transit center. Those improvements will require moving poles that hold up the overhead power wire and replacing the signal system, among other work. As with the 1st Avenue MAX Improvements, MAX service will need to be adjusted during this project. TriMet will provide riders with advance notice of the service changes in the weeks ahead of the project.