As a highlight of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) first Streetcar Conference, Administrator Peter Rogoff showcased Portland's Moody Avenue reconstruction project as an example of how well-planned and executed transit projects may serve as a catalyst for economic development. The two-day roundtable discussion was held to assist transportation planners from 13 cities around the country to learn how to best implement federally-funded streetcar projects in their communities.
In addition to greatly expanding transportation options in the area, the project unlocks development of Portland's largest piece of vacant land in the central city.
With new utilities installed and new streetcar, roadway, bicycle and pedestrian connections built, Moody Avenue will serve the planned development of a 43-acre site owned by Zidell Marine Corp., as well as Oregon Health and Science University's 18-acre Shnitzer Campus, home to the 480,000 square-foot Collaborative Life Sciences Building, which will integrate Moody Avenue Light Rail Station into its construction and development.
"The City of Portland and TriMet have hit a home run with this project and demonstrate the enormous economic benefits transit can deliver to a community," Administrator Rogoff said. "Two hundred-fifty people have been put to work converting a site that once was a toxic Brownfield into a thriving transportation and business corridor."
The Portland streetcar effort is a victory for the city and its residents and federal investments in streetcar systems across the country are reinvigorating an industry that until recently no longer existed in the U.S. for many decades. The streetcars will be manufactured in Portland by United Streetcar, a subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works, evidence of the industry's rebirth.
Rogoff also announced that the Portland area will now also have access to a $2 million grant to study the Southwest Corridor, which has been locally identified as the next corridor in the area for a major transit investment. The funds were originally announced in 2010.