Orange Line First Ride
May 15, 2015
What an honor it is to take the first ride on this transformative project. As Neil mentioned, my support for the Orange Line began back in my days as Senate Majority Leader. Since then, Portland has grown quite a bit, our transportation needs have rapidly evolved, and I – of course - am in a new office.
As I look at the Orange Line today and the entire TriMet system, it’s exciting to see transportation projects that were started many years ago take shape.
Investments in transit are essential if we are going to preserve the mobility of goods and people who live and work in this region.
The Portland metro area is growing – new people are moving here attracted by our vibrant neighborhoods, natural beauty, and thriving economy. To support this kind of growth, we need to invest in a diverse array of transportation modes like intercity passenger rail, freight rail, bicycle routes, and our transit systems.
Growth is having a significant impact on the mobility of our residents and businesses. If you’ve tried to drive between Beaverton and Portland after 3 p.m. on a weekday, you are well aware congestion is a very real problem.
For example, I recently visited Pacific Foods in Tualatin. Current traffic configurations and congestion on the Tualatin-Sherwood Highway make it virtually impossible for their delivery trucks to cross traffic and pull out on the road to and head eastbound towards I-5. Transportation improvements are need so important Oregon businesses, like Pacific Foods, can ensure residents, workers, and products get where they need to go efficiently and safely.
These are improvements that cannot wait and are essential to protecting what we love about this place. Our children and grandchildren deserve continued foresight and investment from our generation.
Preserving our uniquely Oregon way of life makes economic sense too. The construction of the Orange Line alone created 14,000 family-wage jobs during the depths of the recent Great Recession. More than 430 Oregon companies worked on the project, including 131 small and disadvantaged businesses.
As we look forward to the opening of this project in September, we need to continue prioritizing transportation investments. I look forward to working with all of you to help meet the needs of Oregonians and business alike.
In closing, I want to thank the board and staff of Trimet, policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels who worked on this project, the contractors and workers who build this line, and the citizens in this region who involvement helped to make this day happen.