by Jon Binswanger
TriMet opens the new MAX Orange Line on September 12, connecting Milwaukie and its surrounding neighborhoods with downtown Portland. The massive undertaking of creating a 7.3-mile light rail system through a densely populated urban area was an opportunity to showcase sustainable living practices in the metro area. TriMet and the 56 other agencies that contributed to the Orange Line used sustainable lighting, solar panels, low-maintenance stainless steel and unpainted concrete as well as other innovations to reduce pollution and conserve energy. Additionally, the new line includes a massive system of stormwater facilities.
More than 250 curbside stormwater facilities will treat 34 acres of stormwater runoff. Most of the facilities consist of local vegetation that blends into the landscape in systems known as bio-swales, stormwater planters and rain gardens. In addition to adding aesthetic appeal to needed draining systems, the native plants create a habitat for local bugs, butterflies and other pollinators.
Designed to help with stormwater runoff, the eco-roofs used in various structures throughout the line showcase sustainable, energy-efficient buildings while creating more environmental habitat. TriMet describes eco-roofs as “a top-layer of vegetation and soil that can absorb stormwater, improve building insulation, absorb carbon dioxide, lower urban temperatures and filter air pollutants. The Orange Line includes 3,500 square feet of these green-roofed structures that will ultimately remove an estimated 140,000 pounds of airborne particles per year.”