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MAX work confounds Milwaukie Ave drivers at Powell

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Looking north from S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Powell, during the late July MAX construction, towards the S.E. 11th/12th Avenue couplet, the familiar roadway looked unrecognizable.Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians who typically drive north out of the Brooklyn Neighborhood on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue have found their route stymied at S.E. Powell Boulevard for three weeks.

From July 15 until August 5, the route north of Powell for S.E. Milwaukie Avenue drivers, including both S.E. 11th and 12th Avenues, was completely shut down to make way for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project (MAX) construction.

“Construction crews are installing tracks for the future light rail alignment along the existing railroad tracks,” said TriMet spokesperson Angela Murphy.

“Working simultaneously at the three nearby crossings south of Division Street, much of it around the clock, shortens the duration of the street closures,” Murphy explained.

While the couplet was closed down, contractors also made safety improvements to the Union Pacific railroad crossings, allowing the City of Portland to apply for a “quiet zone” – in which freight and light rail train horns will only sound if there is an immediate safety issue, and not every single darn time they cross the street there!

Even with TriMet’s intense publicity campaign warning drivers about the road closure, expressions of surprise and consternation were clearly visible on drivers’ faces at Powell, when they encountered the construction barricade blocking their way.