Making the MAX Orange Line green

The Portland area thrives on sustainability. From its city-wide recycling programs to a nationally recognized bike-friendly ranking, it’s clear to see our region cares about the environment — and we do too.

From the early stages of the MAX Orange Line project, we’ve been committed to sustainability. Of course, the new Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, set new standards by being the first (and only) vehicle-free bridge in the United States dedicated exclusively to transit, bicycles and pedestrians, but sustainable practices can be found all along the Orange Line — from the vegetation planted along the rails to the energy initiatives set in place, sustainability has been a focus the entire time.

Going green


You’ll find 4,204 square feet of flowering, low-growing evergreen plants between the tracks at the Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave MAX Station. Although green trackways exist in Europe, this is a first for Portland and the only known eco-track treatment in the U.S. These plants help enrich the urban experience along the MAX line and reduce train noise and vibration.

Additionally, eight buildings on the alignment—six on the east side of the Willamette River and two on the west side—have eco-roofs. This top layer of vegetation and soil improves a building’s insulation, absorbs carbon dioxide, helps filter dust and pollutants out of the air (A 1,000-square-foot green roof removes about 40 pounds of airborne particulates per year!) and diverts stormwater by absorbing rainwater.


Speaking of stormwater…

Bio-swales, stormwater planters and rain gardens are found all along the Orange Line so that stormwater runoff can be collected and safely filtered back into the groundwater. Rain that falls on Tilikum Crossing is directed to treatment facilities on both sides of the river — another first for Portland as runoff from the other bridges flows directly into the city’s combined sewer overflow facilities.

Stormwater is captured and filtered at 252 curbside facilities and 34 other swales and basins.

Energy usage

At most of the Orange Line stations you’ll see solar panels on the shelter roofs. These panels generate electricity from both sides and help offset the power usage needed at each station.


Additionally, all lighting along the Orange Line is LED instead of conventional halide bulbs. LEDs use one-sixth of the electricity as halide bulbs and will only need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.

Collaborative sustainability

The SE Park Ave Park & Ride is a prime example of many sustainable practices coming together as a whole. Metro, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Urban Green and members of the community all joined together to create this innovative parking structure.


Some key practices in place:

  • All of the building’s stormwater runoff is captured and treated onsite.
  • Invasive plants were removed and native species were planted to restore former habitats.
  • Over 100 bike parking spaces are provided, as well as an area for future car-sharing programs.
  • Solar panel energy operates all of the Park & Ride’s functions — including its elevators and lighting — allowing the building to achieve net zero energy usage!

The MAX Orange Line project’s deep commitment to sustainability and social benefit will help shape how we plan projects in the future, and hopefully, encourage other agencies and industries around the world to keep sustainability in mind.

Learn more about the sustainable practices in place on the MAX Orange Line.

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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