UPDATE • Blumenauer calls Portland 'streetcar capital of the U.S.'

Hundreds of regional leaders, transportation planners and transit fans celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Portland Streetcar Friday morning with a party in the Pearl District's Jamison Square.

Mayor Sam Adams, the event's master of ceremonies, credited the streetcar with revitalizing the area and providing a critical link to Portland State University. He said that in its first 10 years, the streetcar has created thousands of good-paying jobs, carried 28 million passengers, helped attract $4 billion in private investments and attracted 200 visiting delegations from other cities and regions.

'And there will be even more in the next 10 years,' Adams said, referring to the current eastside streetcar extension, the proposed lines to Lake Oswego and possible new lines throughout the city.

The streetcar line opened July 20, 2001, as the first modern system in a North American city.

The city also is using a federal program to promote construction of new streetcars in the United States. Streetcars on the new Portland line will be made by Oregon Iron Works in Clackamas.

Other speakers included Portland U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, PSU President Wim Wiewel and Powell's Bookstore owner Michael Powell, who chairs the board of the nonprofit organization that oversees the streetcar's operation.

'Portland is not just the bicycle capital of the U.S., but the streetcar capital of the U.S.,' Blumenauer told the audience.

All of Friday's speakers acknowledged the financial crisis in Washington, D.C., that threatens future funding for transportation projects, but said they offer a wide range of benefits for the federal tax dollars.

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