PMLR Project History

The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project will create a light rail alignment that travels 7.3 miles, connecting Portland State University in downtown Portland, inner Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and north Clackamas County. The project can be traced back to high-capacity transit studies that led to both this project and the project that resulting in the MAX Green Line.

South Corridor Project

The South Corridor Project—led by Metro in partnership with TriMet, the City of Portland, the City of Milwaukie and Clackamas County—has worked to identify transportation options for the fast-growing I-205 and Milwaukie/Oregon City corridors. When the study began in 1999, light rail was not an option under consideration. But neighborhoods along the alignment—from Southeast Portland to Milwaukie—requested that light rail be part of the study, and it was ultimately adopted as the preferred option.

Subsequently, the South Corridor Project has followed a two-phased approach. In September 2009, Phase 1 brought MAX Green Line service to the I-205 corridor between Clackamas Town Center and Gateway, where it then uses the existing MAX Blue and Red line tracks to travel to downtown Portland. Once the Green Line crosses the Steel Bridge, it follows new tracks along the Portland Mall to Portland State University. Portland-Milwaukie light rail constitutes Phase 2 of the South Corridor Project.

Planning and Design

Final Design

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved the project's entry into Final Design on March 29, 2011. This approval allows the project to be developed from 30 percent design achieved during the Preliminary Engineering phase to 100 percent design, with milestones at 60 and 90 percent design.

The design reached 60 percent design in June 2011, and 90 percent design in December 2011. The project is scheduled to reach 100 percent design, and complete the Final Design phase, in March 2012.

Final Environmental Impact Statement

The project's Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):

  • Identifies the light rail project’s preferred alternative and Final Section 4(f) Evaluation (which addresses a federal regulation protecting parks, historic resources and nature refuges)
  • Describes the project’s commitments to mitigate adverse impacts
  • Responds to all comments received on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (May 2008)

Project Milestones

July 2013: The project reached 50 percent completion.

May 22, 2012: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) authorized the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the project. The agreement commits the federal government to provide 50 percent of the project's established budget of $1.495 billion in exchange for the commitment by TriMet (as the project sponsor) to complete the project on time, within budget and in compliance with all applicable federal requirements.

August 19, 2011: TriMet submitted the application for the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for consideration.Upon FFGA approval.

July 1, 2011: Construction began on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge over the Willamette River, the first bridge built over the river in Portland in over 40 years and a critical component of the project.

March 29, 2011: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved the project's entry into Final Design. This approval allows the project to be developed from its current 30 percent design to 100 percent design, with milestones at 60 and 90 percent design. The design reached 90 percent design in December 2011. The project reached 100 percent design and completed the Final Design phase in May 2012.

November 29, 2010: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Record of Decision finding that the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) have been satisfied for the construction and operation of the project. Read the Record of Decision. (5.9 MB PDF)

October 22, 2010: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published the project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). View the FEIS at Metro's Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail page.

March 2010: The project completed its Preliminary Engineering phase, during which design of the total project was brought to 30 percent.

November 2008: The project Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) was completed.

Summer 2008: A Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) alignment and station plan was chosen.