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Tri-Met Says Light Rail Funding Gap Is Closed

Officials with the Metro area transit agency, Tri-Met, say the funding gap created over the summer in a major light rail project has effectively been closed. Rob Manning reports.

Two months ago, Portland-Milwaukie light rail came up more than $130 million short when federal officials said they’d cover only 50 percent of the project, not 60 percent, as Oregon leaders had hoped.

Thursday afternoon, the Metro Council approved more than $27 million for the Portland-Milwaukie light rail extension. That adds to $20 million the city of Portland committed this week, and a $10 million state grant announced last month.

Tri-Met’s Mary Fetsch says what seemed like an insurmountable gap is essentially closed.

Mary Fetsch: “We all came together quickly, and basically have almost closed that entire gap, and so I think everyone in the region feels very comfortable and really confident that we’re moving forward.”

Tri-Met also scaled back the project, so it’s now within two percent of its $1.5 billion cost.

Fetsch says Tri-Met is on schedule to finalize the design and begin building a new Willamette River bridge next summer.

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