The federal transportation secretary announced a shift in policy for streetcars Thursday, giving a big boost to Portland’s effort to build tracks across the Willamette River.
Secretary Ray LaHood committed $75 million, after years of the Bush Administration holding off on the Eastside Streetcar project. In a conference call with reporters, Secretary LaHood said the commitment indicates a new way of looking at public transit.
Ray LaHood: “Part of it is the philosophy changed, about how we’re going to allow people and get people, and change people’s opportunities to get back and forth to all the things they want to do.”
Oregon congressional representatives say the change in favor of streetcars will launch a new national industry, anchored in Portland.
Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works is currently working on the only streetcar manufactured in the U.S.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer says as many as two dozen cities are looking into streetcar lines and they may be interested in Oregon-built cars.