Multnomah County will close the Broadway Bridge between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. the weekend of July 10-11 for a structural inspection. This work will affect streetcar service over the bridge.
The A Loop will skip the stop at NW 9th and Lovejoy, continuing north on NW 10th to turn around and become a B Loop. Likewise, the B Loop will turn around at N Broadway and Ross to become an A Loop and continue on the east side.
For more information about the closure and structural inspection, click here.
20-Year Streetcar Superintendent Dee Grice (in vest):
When I saw the job posting for Portland Streetcar Superintendent I was torn between my love of MAX and a new startup, Portland Streetcar. I had challenged myself by becoming a MAX operator, which I loved. Then I became a Controller followed by a Rail Supervisor. When TriMet started building the Hillsboro Line, I found that to be very exciting. I enjoyed the process of testing the tracks, making sure the trains fit into the platforms, tracking the pantographs on the overhead wires, making sure the crossing gates were timed properly, figuring out the Elmo Yard. So, when the opportunity came to apply for Streetcar Superintendent, it was not too difficult of a decision. It was a wonderful opportunity. The variety of it all was too good to let pass by.
In the very beginning, pre-startup, we staggered the arrival of superintendents and operators according to their seniority. Two superintendents, two mechanics and one operator were already here when I arrived. Outside of TriMet, there was a maintenance manager, an operations manager, an office manager, and the people of SKODA which included several vehicle technicians from the Czech Republic and the City of Portland which made this all happen. Shortly before startup, Lenore DeLuisa was hired on as an assistant manager of operations and soon took over as the operations manager.
The first and only, at the time, operator was used to burn in the cars, check for clearances in the shop and alignment, testing of the signals and pantograph tracking to name a few. The idea was to make sure everything was ready for the arrival of operators. This is where I was brought in to join the team.
First order of business was to figure out the streetcars and how to troubleshoot them. This was a lot of fun--no sarcasm. The Czech techs did not speak much English. They always tried to have at least one technician that spoke English decently. We did a lot of pointing, demoing, laughing, and miming. Think Charades. This was pre-startup so there was time to figure things out, and the Queen of Troubleshooting was born.
While learning the cars, we trained a few more operators so they could learn the cars and help with the burn in of the streetcars. We staggered the arrival of the operators for training timing this so all would be trained and ready for service on for the Grand Opening Day of July 20th.
Startup: thirteen operators, three superintendents, and two mechanics made up the original group from the TriMet side. The loop went from Northrup to the single-track turnaround to PSU Urban Plaza. It took an hour to do a full loop with a 15-minute recovery at Urban Plaza. Full service consisted of four streetcars.
The flex would offer each operator a full loop break. If short on operators, it was not unusual for a superintendent to go out to do a loop while waiting for another operator to come in, and, still run operations from the cab. However, this came to a stop when we found ourselves operating a train when an emergency came up. Can’t be in two places at the same time.
Because we were such a small group, I was more than happy to help wherever needed. When the tracks got slick, I would go out to remove leaves and clear track and street drains. When the water started to get deep and cover the tracks, we would head "upstream" towards Good Samaritan Hospital and start clearing track and street drains of all the leaves and debris so that they could keep up with the rainfall. I remember one year it was so bad that when I came to work and opened the shop, I could hear waterfalls! Every stairwell leading to the maintenance bay pits was like a fish ladder with water streaming down and filling up the pits.
After verifying that we were not going to be electrocuted, I started shipping operators out in service. The first operator tried to go out to the wash track and could not open the side door. Neither could I. I ran around the back door to the wash track and found the water was about track-high, a foot and a half deep against the building: yikes! We needed a train from the shop out and when the bay door was opened, a wall of water came rushing in adding to the waterfall. There was so much, the pits looked like a lap pool. Let me tell you, that was a real mess to clean up.
Another fun task Lenore (DeLuisa) and I would do was to pressure wash the platforms and paint over the graffiti. Whatever it took to keep service, we would spring into action and get it done. Since then, Streetcar has gone through multiple extensions taking us up to present day.
Former Mayor Charlie Hales (left), pictured here in 2001 with former U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield:
After making the decision to proceed with the Portland Streetcar project, we had a challenge: buying the streetcars themselves. The only domestic manufacturers just made historic trolleys, not modern trams. For those we had to go abroad, so a trip to Europe was organized. Sounds exotic, but it was kind of a forced march, visiting six cities in six days in order to meet with manufacturers and actually ride the vehicles under consideration on the street somewhere.
We had a budget to buy three vehicles. That was a rounding error for most of the manufacturers, so just getting their attention was part of the challenge. At one point, our delegation was on a balcony looking out at the factory floor of Siemens’ plant, where they were fulfilling a $300 million order for a European customer. Laser-guided plasma torches and robotic welders were flashing and whirring as far as the eye could see. There we were, with our little checkbook, trying to order three streetcars.
This holiday weekend, ride free on Portland Streetcar, Max light rail or TriMet bus. As a partnership to encourage economic recovery, riders can shop, eat and explore without paying a fare Saturday through Monday!
Take transit and avoid the hassle of traffic and parking, wherever you go!
Wow, 20 years! How did I get here? While vacationing in New York City, I received a phone call from my friend, co-workers and now former streetcar operator Sharon Reddick, letting me know she was transferring to Portland Streetcar and I will be going with her. That is how my journey at Portland Streetcar started. I can't believe that we were making history by being the first modern day streetcar system in the country. We started with 5 streetcars and 13 operators, and have grown over the years to 17 streetcars and over 50 operators. We've had transit agencies from all over the country flock to Portland to learn how to get streetcar systems in their cities.
The most amazing thing to see was how neighborhoods changed around the streetcar and even more amazing, seeing neighborhoods created. I watched the Pearl District and South Waterfront neighborhoods being built, along with the Tilikum Crossing and Moody/Porter crossing. Things are still changing and new buildings are being built along the streetcar alignment. I wish that I had before and after pictures of the transformations.
The one thing that I look forward to while operating the streetcar is seeing the kids waving at the streetcar as it goes by. I always try to wave back and ring the bell or honk the horn. It really makes my day to see their faces when I respond to their waves. Before the pandemic changed the world, we had kids' packets to hand out to our little riders. I always made it a point to give the little ones a streetcar treat.
The Portland Streetcar is one of Portland's tourist attractions that gets tourists to other tourist attractions. Streetcar operators are ambassadors of the city, which is a great honor.
I've been with TriMet for 29 years and 20 of those years have been with Portland Streetcar. I'm now the senior operator, which carries a lot of clout (laughing out loud). It just means that I outlasted all the others (just joking).
It has been 20 years, I still enjoy coming to work. There is never a dull day, because there is always something going on. I have met some interesting people over the years and some have become great friends, fellow employees and passengers alike.