From the archives: Westside construction

A while back I started taking PMLR/Orange Line progress pics (posted here and here with SW Lincoln, then I never got around to posting any others but here’s a recent one, quite a change from the tree-lined street it had been):

end of lincolnLooking east from the end of Lincoln

However, I also have a bunch of donated/archived pics of westside rail construction that I don’t think have been published elsewhere, at least not all of them, and I thought readers here might find them interesting:

Portland before westside rail

MAX originally ran from Gresham to downtown, ending at 11th Avenue, which is the terminus just west of the Galleria and Library platforms.

PA15931151603Starred path showing where rail would extend beyond 11th Ave

PA15931151604 PA15931151606Area around Kings Hill and Jeld Wen Field (then called Civic Stadium)

Out West

Image1002Willow Creek/185th, the original proposed end of the west side line

Willow Creek can function as the end of a line (and many Red Line trains will terminate there to go back into the yard), but then-mayor of Hillsboro Shirley Huffman was a very vocal advocate of extending the line further, which is why the Blue Line runs all the way out to Hillsboro.

Elmonica Rail Operations Facility December 1995Elmonica Yard, 1995. The area around it has gotten more built up since then.

Main_St_bridgeConstruction of the Main Street Bridge (and how it looks now)

Opening Ceremony - Al GoreAl Gore speaking at the opening ceremony

Tunneling the West Hills


The most significant undertaking of the westside expansion was the tunnel. If you take the train to Washington Park (the only stop in the tunnel) and ride the elevator up, you’ll find yourself on the Les AuCoin Plaza. You’ll see a sort of cross-section of the bore with tunnel trivia engraved in one segment. For those of you not following me on Twitter, that’s where the 54,962 cups of coffee consumed by tunnel workers fact came from. For the record, they also wore out 1481 pairs of rubber boots.

bore regard

Tunnel Drill in Action

This is what the 278-foot tunnel boring machine (affectionately nicknamed “Bore Regard”) looked like. Over the course of the project, the machine wore out 341 cutter discs, each weighing  400lbs, and it averaged through about 80 feet of rock per day, with one day setting a record for progressing through 181 feet of rock. The boring machine was used from the eastern side heading west for about 2 miles in. From the western side heading east for about a mile in, explosives were used. The two sides of the first bore (the one used primarily now for westbound trains) met around 16 months after construction began. The tunnel now used for eastbound trains was faster to complete, taking only about 4 months. At $184 million to build, the tunnels actually came in over budget (for the curious, the entire cost of the 18-mile westside expansion was $963.5 million).

tunnel_cxnOne bore has been concrete-lined, the other is still in progress (126,100 cubic tons of concrete used altogether to line both bores)

goose_hollow_constructionConstruction near Goose Hollow

west portalWest portal as it looks nowadays

tunnelcabOperator view going through the tunnel
(old pic, that cab radio is practically an antique)

Westside construction fun fact, especially for those of you who, like Dr. Jeff, would rather pretend that the tunnel part of your MAX commute doesn’t exist:  TriMet had to move 14 bodies in the cemetery above the tunnel during the tunnel construction project. Tell me I’m not the only person who thinks of this

3 responses to “From the archives: Westside construction

  1. That’s why I take the 58. No imploding tunnel for me.

  2. Wonderful post! Thank you!

  3. So cool. Thanks for the post!

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