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ABOVE: Portland State University stop on the south end of the bus mall in downtown Portland. Here is where Green and Yellow Line service ter- minates. This is a major transfer point between MAX, TriMet buses, and the Portland Streetcar. Here, a Green Line train is emptying its pas- sengers while a streetcar heads towards South Waterfront. ALEXANDER B. CRAGHEAD


We are at the Rockwood/East 188th Avenue Station along the Blue Line, on our way back to Gateway from its Gre- sham terminus. This is our second out- and-back from Gateway, having com- pleted the Red Line to the airport. The words are mine, uttered as I point up- wards at the window towards one of two giant sculptures adorning the top of a small shelter on the platform. “What are they supposed to be...?” asks Matt. “Art.” Dan makes a face. “It’s silly. It makes pro-transit people look dumb and advo- cating for new lines and services that much harder.” Rockwood is fairly unique along the easternmost segment of the Blue Line, as it is one of the newer stations, a re- placement for an older facility. Yet its uniqueness also makes it the most em- blematic of the stations in east county. The strange rooftop sculptures are ex- amples of how much TriMet has be- come intertwined with place-making and other aspects of publicly originated economic development, for Rockwood’s new station is part of an effort by the City of Gresham to bolster its languish-


40 FEBRUARY 2012 • RAILFAN.COM


ing Rockwood urban renewal area. What sits under these sculptures, however, is just as telling: space ready- made to accommodate fare control turnstiles, if needed. Platforms along this segment of the Blue Line have be- come frequent locations of crime re- ports, including violent assaults. Con- trolling platform access is one possible solution. Another, as at the East 160th station, is more bizarre: speakers blar- ing classical music, in the hopes that criminals will find it offensive. Most no- tably, however, is a strengthened tran- sit police force. The doors close, the bell rings, and off


we go, bound for our next transfer at Gateway.


1:20 p.m.


“You’d think it would be


more like a roller coaster,” declares Matt, “but its really smooth!” We’re on the Green Line now, be-


tween Gateway and Clackamas Town Center. Where the downtown-Gate- way-Gresham segment is the oldest part of the light rail system, this is the newest, having opened in 2009. Similar to many other MAX routes, it follows a


freeway, in this case I-205. More uniquely, it is built on the right-of-way of a never completed bus rapid transit route. As a result, it repeatedly climbs and dives, from below-grade trenches to embankments and viaducts. “There are almost no at grade road crossings,” I note, as we swing high up over Foster Road and the Lents neigh- borhood, heading back towards Gate- way again. “It’s fast.” Much of this section of town is rapid-


ly growing into diverse neighborhoods, including a vibrant new Chinatown forming between Division and Powell along parallel 82nd Avenue. It being mid-day, and with lunch on our minds, we take a pause at Division to sample some of the city’s best dim sum before completing our journey back towards downtown with an impressive sense of accomplishment: both the eastern and western extremities are complete. Only the central city now remains.


3:35 p.m.


Our accom- plishments


for the day rack up. WES, done. The fast Red Line, the tired Blue Line, the roller-coaster Green Line, done. Soon


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