Tilikum bridge gets added improvements, stays under budget

Tilikum bridge gets added improvements, stays under budget


By:  Teresa Blackman

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley walked across the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge Monday, heralding the massive TriMet project, which is set to finish under budget, even with added improvements.

The 7.3-mile light rail project will end up costing as much as $40 million less than initially predicted. The federal government intended to recoup those savings, but Senator Merkley contacted the U.S. Department of Transportation for approval to use some of the money for additional bridge improvements.

In response, the FTA allowed TriMet to keep an additional $3.565 million.

"These extra funds will provide some important improvements to our system that will make for a better riding experience. And during winter storms, our system will provide more reliable service," said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

Specifically, here's how the $3.565 million in funding will be used along the Orange Line:

  • $2.56 million will fund additional station shelters
  • $300,000 will go towards rail switch heaters
  • $705,000 will go towards overhead contact system ice caps

Merkley said he was proud to see a project which has not only created jobs, but puts an important focus on future infrastructure.

"This distinctive bridge and this light rail line give Portland a new landmark, but more importantly they both put people to work now and lay the groundwork for the metro area's future economic growth," he said.


TriMet's new Orange MAX line will begin carrying passengers across the Tilikum Crossing Bridge in September.

The bridge across the Willamette River connects the north end of the MAX line, which starts at Portland State University, to the southern stretch that goes all the way past Milwaukie.

Only light rail trains, buses, bicycles, pedestrians, and streetcars will travel across the bridge – no private vehicles will be allowed.