TriMet greets decision; county chairman sees dim future for rail

TriMet won its lawsuit to end Clackamas County’s delays of light-rail construction through Milwaukie when a judge ruled on Monday that the county breached its contractual commitments to the project.

Circuit Court Judge Henry C. Breithaupt ordered that the county mustó honor its commitments supporting the construction of the line or pay monetary damages.

County officials had argued they were following the will of voters in two recent elections. Breithaupt said that ballot measures from September 2012 and May 2013 do not “...excuse performance by Clackamas County of its obligations under” a pair of intergovernmental agreements.

In referencing the agreements, Breithaupt wrote, “It is important to recognize that those agreements were acts by the parties in a long string of actions by each of the parties...for the purpose of carrying forward a common decision to build the light rail system...”

“We’re pleased that the court upheld the longstanding commitments that TriMet and the county have made,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “We also remain committed to working with the county while it completes its final obligations to the project.”

County Commission Chairman John Ludlow noted that he expects compliance from county staff in following the current light-rail agreements, but he expected it would be the county’s last such project.

“When a judge orders us to do something, we’re going to do it,” Ludlow said, “but it’ll be a cold day that Clackamas County voters ever approve an extension of that line, just as it would have been a cold day had the voters ever gotten a chance to weigh in on the line in the first place.”

Construction on the Portland-Milwaukie project is more than 40 percent complete and set to open in September 2015.

Contract Publishing

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