MAX Orange Line expected to be millions under budget


The general manager of TriMet said the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Line will be $10-40 million under budget.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The general manager of TriMet said the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Line will be $10-40 million under budget.

The exact amount saved on the $1.49 billion project won’t be known until 2019, the Portland Tribune reports.

“Not only are we improving our transit system with this project, we’re delivering it on time and under budget,” TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said.

According to McFarlane, much of the savings are due to historical low interest rates, which allows TriMet to borrow construction funds for less than previous estimates. Half of the cost of the project — called the Orange Line — is being paid by the Federal Transit Administration. It will recover 50 percent of the savings, an amount somewhere between $5 million and $20 million. The final figure will not be known until the federal appropriations conclude, according to TriMet.

With the assistance of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, the FTA has granted TriMet permission to use some of the savings to add back a number of previously approved project elements that were eliminated during the final negotiation in 2011 of the full funding grant agreement. The FTA will fund 50 percent of these items, which TriMet says will improve winter operations with additional heated switches and ice cap installed on top of the overhead power wire. They also include adding shelters at MAX stations along the Orange Line. These restorations will cost about $3.6 million.

The Orange Line will run from near Portland State University in downtown Portland through Southeast neighborhoods and to Milwaukie.

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