By Mark Edward Nero
The US Department of Transportation has awarded a $7.3 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to the Port of Portland and City of Portland to help fund a rail overpass and realign a congested and dangerous intersection in Portland’s Rivergate Industrial Park.
The Portland Marine Terminal Freight and Jobs Access Project will attempt to address congestion created by an at-grade rail crossing near the entrance to Rivergate and the port’s Terminal 5, while also providing safer and more reliable access to jobs from nearby residential areas.
Rivergate is Portland’s largest concentration of marine and industrial land offering more than 3,800 direct, middle-income jobs. Plans call for an overpass over a busy marine terminal rail lead, associated road and intersection improvements and new bike lanes.
Pedestrian facility upgrades include a new sidewalk connecting to an existing bus stop and a multi-use path that increases mobility options for North Portland residents who work at Rivergate.
Planned environmental improvements include enhanced stormwater treatment, landscaping and street lighting.
Currently, truck and passenger vehicle traffic is snarled in gridlock for up to four hours a day because of frequent rail movement. In many cases, traffic backs up, impacting business access and creating unsafe conditions for all users. While alleviating traffic congestion, the project also increases efficiency of rail product delivery and lowers the cost of moving bulk cargo trains in and out of the area.
Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER grants, are awarded on a competitive basis to fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure; selection prioritizes projects with significant regional economic impact. The grant application was a collaborative effort between the port and the City of Portland.
“The City of Portland is lucky to have the port as a partner in the application for, and now implementation of, this TIGER grant,” Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick said. “This project will have a tremendous impact on Portland and the greater region.”
The project’s full price tag is $19.5 million; the remaining $12.2 million is expected to come from the port, city and other federal funds already secured for infrastructure improvements.