Friday, June 07, 2013

TriMet, county reach property transfer pact

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Clackamas County, Ore. commissioners have unanimously approved a property transfer that will allow TriMet to build the Trolley Trail through Milwaukie and Oak Grove concurrent with Portland-Milwaukie light rail transit construction, extending TriMet's reach into Portland's southeastern suburbs.

Voters in the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District, which covers most of Milwaukie and Oak Grove, where the Clackamas County portion of the 7.3-mile Orange Line will run, supported the transfer of a portion of the Trolley Trail between River Road in Milwaukie and Park Avenue in Oak Grove. Anti-LRT flak generated by Clackamas County as a whole, however, has alarmed light rail advocates nationwide, since Portland is considered among the best examples of LRT implementation in the U.S.

Northern county residents have been more supportive of LRT expansion, which affects them more directly than the majority of voters elsewhere in the county who have begun questioning LRT's utility and protesting TriMet's authority and intentions.

Commissioner Tootie Smith, who has expressed a desire to dismantle ongoing LRT work in Clackamas County, nonetheless voted in favor of the transfer, telling local media, "We are doing what the public asked with the vote," and adding, "We are trying our best to deal with what we've been dealt."

The vote in question, Measure 3-401, passed in September 2012 and mandated a public vote before using county resources on the finance, design, construction, or operation of any rail lines in the county.

TriMet is still in negotiations to buy the land it will sell the parks district. The transfer won't be fully completed until that happens.