Blumenauer Works to Get $2.4 Million for U.S.-Made Streetcar Prototype

by Rep. Blumenauer’s Office April 15, 2010

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) today heralded a series of streetcar announcements that are helping to solidify Portland as the streetcar capital of America. Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) Peter Rogoff announced that Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) of Portland, Oregon will receive $2.4 million in federal research funds to support the development of streetcar components – namely a domestically produced streetcar propulsion system – that will be made in the U.S.A.

Blumenauer brought together FTA’s innovation division and Oregon-based manufacturer Oregon Iron Works to spur this project. At present, there is no domestic manufacturer of streetcar propulsion systems, which represents about 20 percent of the total cost of a streetcar.

“This is a huge vote of confidence in Oregon Iron Works and our streetcar agenda by the Obama administration,” said Blumenauer. “This funding creates Oregon based jobs now and unlocks a variety of new markets and new applications for the modern streetcar, which may lead to hundreds of more jobs in the future.”

The FTA will fund 80 percent of the $3-million project, with a local match of $600,000. Last year, the company unveiled the first domestically built streetcar in 58 years. The company currently uses propulsion systems made in Eastern Europe.

“FTA is proud to be a leading partner in this innovative project,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “We think ‘Made in America’ should mean more than assembling foreign-made parts in America. Funds for this project will help create streetcar manufacturing jobs right here at home, as well as a new domestic technology base that capitalizes on American ingenuity.”

TriMet will also use the funds to support the development of a streetcar that can operate for short distances without power from overhead wires, allowing the potential for streetcar service to be introduced where historic, environmental, or other concerns limit the installation of overhead wires.

Also Announced Today: Oregon will receive $74 million in funding for the final installment on the green line for light rail. Also released today was $30.45 million for the East Side streetcar expansion, which was announced last year .

“This is a great day for Portland and for American made streetcars,” said Blumenauer.

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