Transportation secretary among dignitaries visiting Clackamas Industrial Area on Monday
by: raymond rendleman United Streetcar President Chandra Brown introduces U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (from left), Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon City), Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) and Peter Defazio (D-Springfield) at the company's unveiling of a $4 million fabrication bay and test track.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday joined union heads, local mayors, Clackamas County commissioners and the three closest congressmen to congratulate Clackamas-based United Streetcar President Chandra Brown in unveiling a new fabrication bay and test track at a total investment over $4 million.

With an additional $2.4 million grant through TriMet, the manufacturing company will go from making streetcars with 70 percent to 90 percent U.S. content. The company also expects to employ 100 workers from the next-door Oregon Iron Works.

'We think that this is going to give us a huge quality advantage across the board,' Brown said.

With the dozens of dignitaries present on the eve of a federal transportation funding authorization expected next week, it didn't take long for the proceeding to turn political.

LaHood described the local workers as 'humble, hardworking and creative,' looking to the next generation of transportation after previous American support for freight rail and the interstate highway system.

'What we found in this area was people who don't want to stay in the same-old same-old,' LaHood said.

Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon City) praised how LaHood 'has stood his ground' on investing in alternative transportation in the face of criticism for one of President Obama's priorities.

Congressman Peter Defazio (D-Springfield) commended Clackamas County's former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley for helping award the first $2.6 million earmark to encourage local investments.

'If Congress doesn't earmark the money, it's going to be someone in Salem or Washington,' Defazio said.

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