The Green Line is the newest addition to Portland, Oregon's MAX light rail system. It is currently under construction, and is expected to open in September, 2009.
The line is being built for at least two reasons, and is actually two separate projects put into one. The two joined projects are a six and a half mile southward extension of the MAX line from Gateway Transit Center to the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall, parallel to I-205, and a north-south redesign of the Portland Mall to include MAX service from Union Station to Portland State University. Now, for those familiar with the layout of Portland, this may seem odd, since I-205 is 100 blocks east of downtown, but it does make sense.
The southward extension to Clackamas Town Center, with a half dozen stops along the way, is a very obvious extension of MAX service. The transit agency that runs MAX is called TriMet
, with the "Tri" standing for "Tri-County", those being the counties of Multnomah
. MAX has been running for two decades now, and had several dozen miles of track, and not a foot of that track is in Clackamas County. Although much of Clackamas County is rural and suburban, the place that the tracks are going to run is burgeoning in population and is long due for a MAX line. The terrain that it is being built along is also fairly easy to build rail lines on, as it follows the path of I-205.
The other part of the redesign is the installation of north/south MAX tracks in downtown, running perpendicular to the MAX tracks that run west to Beaverton and other western suburbs. Because of the small size of blocks in Portland, there was a limit to how many trains could run through downtown at peak hours. For that reason, the Green Line, after sharing tracks with the Red and Blue Lines between Gateway and the Steel Bridge, will separate and run through downtown perpendicularly, ending at Portland State University. This also allows a further expansion of MAX service southwards into Milwaukie, although that will take a great deal more planning, money and politics before it happens.
The construction has caused a few problems, especially in the downtown area, but has proved to be fairly well budgeted as far as time and money goes for such a major project. Before long, the Portland area's famous transit service will have another gem in its crown.