TriMet is not going to consider stopping Portland-Milwaukie light rail outside of Clackamas County, said the agency's President Bruce Warner on Friday. Warner added that the line is going ahead as planned regardless of possible ballot measures. The Clackamas County commissioners sent a letter to TriMet on Tuesday suggesting TriMet examine the possibility of stopping the light rail line at Tacoma Street in Portland, the stop before Milwaukie. Warner's response indicated that TriMet interpreted the letter as a step toward breaking off Clackamas County's involvement in the 7.3-mile Orange Line.
Warner expressed disappointment in the letter and questioned whether the county should legally place TriMet funding measures on a May special election ballot.
"At this point, no modifications as to scope are possible and there is no 'funding uncertainty' that would change the Project's 'key elements'. The Whole Project will be built as agreed to by all the regional partners, including the County," Warner said in the letter.
Some commissioners interpreted the letter as a threat.
"We're trying to ask them. That's all we did," new Chairman John Ludlow said. "We asked them to look at it as a possibility, and they come back with a threatening letter, really."
The exchange could indicate a change in relationship between TriMet and Clackamas County, where two light rail opponents won commission seats in the November election. Voters might get their first chance to vote on Portland-Milwaukie light rail in May after the passage of Measure 3-401 in September, which requires countywide approval before officials can spend money to finance, design, construct or operate any rail lines in the county. If light rail makes the ballot, voters would choose whether to approve the transfer of two small land parcels to TriMet, sign an agreement that allows TriMet to maintain and operate the line and fund road improvements. Residents living in the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District would also advise whether to exchange part of the Trolley Trail for TriMet to construct. All of the items are already promised in existing contracts, so the board might be forced to complete the transactions regardless of the vote's outcome.
It sounds like this unsustainable boondoggle is going to continue and the crime train will be flowing into Clackamas County, despite the will of the people of Clackamas County.