Friday, March 08, 2013

TriMet files lawsuit against Clackamas County to make good on light-rail project

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TriMet filed a lawsuit in Clackamas County Circuit Court to require the county to follow through on its commitment to the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project.

According to TriMet, the county has delayed moving forward on final project property acquisitions and $1.3 million in road and signal improvements. Construction on the 7.3-mile project is 35 percent complete.

Last month, letters were exchanged between the two parties. Clackamas County commissioners asked the agency to reconsider the southernmost terminus of the light-rail project citing the unknown outcome of an upcoming vote that would authorize use of county resources for public rail transit. TriMet's board responded with its own letter saying it is too late to modify the scope of the project and reminded the commissioners the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project "is the product of the cooperative efforts of partners from all levels of government - federal, state, and local – and reflects over a decade of collaboration for the benefit of the entire region," including Clackamas County.

"We understand that Clackamas County voters want a say in any rail projects based on Measure 3-401, but that does not affect the current Portland-Milwaukie project," said TriMet Chief Media Relations Officer Mary Fetsch. "Unfortunately, we have to take this action to prevent delays that could impact the overall cost and schedule of the project."

The court action seeks a Declaratory Judgment, expedited consideration and for the court to retain jurisdiction to supervise the county's participation until the project is complete.

In a release, TriMet said it appreciates that the county has partnered with the agency to move the project forward over the years, allowing design, construction and property acquisitions to proceed, but said since the November election, cooperation has dissolved.

"During that time TriMet has made numerous attempts to help the county resolve its outstanding issues. This included reducing the amount of cash contributed to the project and instead providing in-kind contributions, as well as providing two extensions to allow time to meet the agreements of the Supplemental IGA.

"TriMet has offered to resolve the matter through alternative means, including mediation or having a neutral third party bring this to a resolution. This offer still remains on the table," said the release.

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