Officials turn out to highlight jobs on TriMet Milwaukie light rail project

Jodi Guetzloe Parker, executive secretary of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, speaks at a “Jobs for Oregon” press conference Feb. 23 to recognize the Portland-Milwaukie light rail transit project and the jobs it is creating. Standing behind her at the east end of the light-rail bridge construction project near OMSI are Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Maurice Rahming, owner of union contractor O’Neil Electric. Several politicians, contractors, workers, and union officials attended the event.

“I love seeing those cranes on the skyline,” smiled John Mohlis, executive secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council. Mohlis was speaking at a  press conference Feb. 23 to recognize the Portland-Milwaukie light rail transit project for paving the way for much-needed construction jobs in the metro area.

TriMet began work last April on the $1.5 billion project, which includes a cable-stay bridge over the Willamette River. Estimates forecast the project will create up to 14,500 jobs by the time it is completed in September 2015. This estimate includes 7,122  jobs working directly on the project, such as construction workers, planners, designers, and engineers. It also includes up to 7,370 indirect or induced jobs, such as positions at suppliers of materials (steel, concrete, wood, and more.) Induced jobs are jobs created by the spending of wages for items such as groceries, gas, restaurants, and entertainment.

“Thank you for helping to build a better future. We’ve been woefully underemployed in our region,” said Jodi Guetzloe Parker, executive secretary of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council. “Being able to take care of ourselves is a huge matter of pride for us,” she said. “We’re blue collar. We’re proud of who we are. We’re proud of what we do, and we want to keep helping Portland grow and expand.”

Also speaking at the press conference organized by TriMet were project contractors, workers, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, and Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader.

“I’m asked all the time, what can government do to get the jobs going, get the economy going,” said Schrader, who represents Clackamas and portions of Multnomah counties. “I truly believe the President (Obama) is right on the money when he talks about infrastructure investment. That’s jobs just not now, but into the future for our kids and grandkids. This type of investment is huge. The multiplier effect in the community is huge, at a time when we’re struggling.”

Blumenauer called the Milwaukie line the next great portion of our light rail system. “What I like is, we’ve had the vision as a community, the leadership and the skills in the construction industry, to keep going,” he said. “We’ve never really stopped since 1982.”

Jaci Lyn Hayden, a University of Portland civil engineering grad working on the project, said when the line opens in 2015, “It’s going to start an entire other phase of economic development. By Portland making an investment in light rail, we’re making an investment in our future.”

Blumenauer said throughout the decades light rail has made a difference for tens of thousands of working families. “People who were able to have family wage jobs, have the (fringe) benefits, have the pride in building this community,”  he said.

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