Ride the O: New MAX Orange line now running

TriMet's newest rail line connects Portland and Milwaukie

The MAX Orange Line opens, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)
The MAX Orange Line opens, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — MAX trains are now rolling between Milwaukie and Portland.

The MAX Orange Line opens, September 12, 2015 (KOIN)
The MAX Orange Line opens, September 12, 2015 (KOIN)

TriMet’s newest rail line, the Orange line, opened Saturday. It is 7.3 miles long, connecting downtown and SE Portland and northern Clackamas County.

The Orange line cost $1.49 billion. It came in about $49 million under budget. It expands the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 stations.

With the new MAX line comes a new bridge over the Willamette River, the Tilikum Crossing. It carries light rail and streetcar trains, bicycles, pedestrians and buses – but no private vehicles are allowed.

The 1,720-foot bridge, which cost $134.6 million to build, is Portland’s 12th across the Willamette and the first bridge built in the Portland area in more than 40 years.

The bridge’s name links to Oregon’s indigenous heritage. In the Native American language of Chinook Wawa, Tilikum means people, tribe and relatives. The full name of the bridge is Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. The name Tilikum was unanimously selected from among 10,000 submissions by a bridge naming committee.

Passengers crowd the MAX platform as they wait to board the Orange line on the first day, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)
Passengers crowd the MAX platform as they wait to board the Orange line on the first day, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)

On Saturday morning, a procession of Native Americans in full regalia walked over Tilikum Crossing, leading the inaugural Orange Line train with local officials on board over the bridge. The procession was followed by a grand opening ceremony.

One of Tilikum Crossing’s cool features is lights whose colors change depending on changes in the river below – based on seasons, and the height, speed and temperature of the water. A software program translates U.S. Geological Survey data to control the LED lights, which are displayed on the bridge’s cables and towers.

Tilikum Crossing Bridge, Sept. 12, 2015 (Courtesy: Martin Eichinger)
Tilikum Crossing Bridge, Sept. 12, 2015 (Courtesy: Martin Eichinger)

The water temperature determines the base color; the river’s speed controls the pace the colors change and move across the bridge, and the river’s height determines a second color that moves vertically up and down the towers and cables.

Governor Kate Brown and other officials attended Saturday’s opening celebrations.

“I was the Senate Majority Leader when we moved forward on this project so I’m pleased to be here at its completion,” Brown said. “I think it totally revitalized the east side, the city of Milwaukie, it’s a great opportunity for economic development.”

All rides on the TriMet system are free Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trains were crowded on the first day of the Orange line, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)
Trains were crowded on the first day of the Orange line, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)

 

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