As completion of construction on the Portland streetcar extension looms just two months away, the campus feels a major impact from the project for the first time.
One of the two most-used bus stops on campus is closed to accommodate construction of the extension to RiverPlace. It is the stop at Southwest Fifth Avenue and Montgomery Street, in front of the bookstore. (The other most-used is a block west, at Sixth Avenue and Montgomery Street.)
Although there is no streetcar construction at the bus stop, a Tri-Met representative said the stop is closed to permit movement of construction equipment in and out of Montgomery Street.
If all continues on schedule, construction on the extension from Portland State to will be complete in January with start of operations in March.
A tour of the route shows virtually all the track in place and work proceeding on the overhead metal arms that will carry the wire from which the streetcar gets its power. Considerable work remains on such trimmings as landscape irrigation installations, island streetcar stops and a substation at the RiverPlace end of the line.
At present the double track narrows to a single-track midway between Southwest Fifth Avenue and Fourth Avenue on Montomery Street. As the track extends from there, it turns south at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street. One of four concrete island stops nears finish at that corner.
When the track reaches Southwest Fourth Avenue and Harrison Street in front of the Jasmine Tree, it becomes a double track again and turns east on Harrison toward the Willamette River.
Double track follows eastward to Southwest Naito Parkway, where a new traffic signal system is in place, along with new streetlights.
At Naito Parkway, the extension faced its major terrain problem. At this point the route lies at the edge of a steep hill that looms high above Southwest Harbor Drive below. The extension solves the grade problem by turning sharply south, to the right at a gradual descent designed to harmonize with the streetcar’s operating needs.
This section, designated as Harrison Roadway, is essentially complete, with tracks, pavement and even much signage in place. Bicycle lanes are already painted.
This section ends at the east-west pavement of Southwest River Parkway. The tracks then extend to Southwest River Drive where they turn south at the Marriott Inn. A new traffic signal is in place at River Drive.
Midway past the Marriott location, the tracks become unfinished, narrowing to what will evidently be a linkage into a single-track switch. Construction has now reached Southwest Moody Avenue, also with a new traffic signal.
Remaining is completion of construction to a streetcar substation at Southwest Sheridan Street. That construction will consist mainly of the overhead equipment that suspends power above the track.
To the casual eye, the extension appears almost complete down to mopping up the details. Ahead lies installation of power, testing with streetcars, training on the new route and ironing out any kinks that may surface.
When complete the entire streetcar line will cover a round trip length of six miles with a total of 40 platform stops. It will link far Northwest Portland with the Southwest Willamette River area, continuing to run through Portland State at the Urban Plaza.
A three-week construction schedule is updated regularly at www.portlandstreetcar.org.