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Ballyhoo surrounds streetcar festivities

All too soon the Portland State campus will be smothered. Not in more field-trip grade-schoolers, but in an ominous electric hum. Yes, unfortunately, pedestrians will have another menace besides over-zealous cyclists and automobiles. That’s right, the dreaded streetcars begin running this Friday with the grand opening celebration slated for Saturday, July 21.

For one day, Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the streetcar will be drowned out by bands, singers and actors crowding the stages of a number of venues around town. PSU’s designated contribution to the streetcar celebration will take place in the Urban Center Plaza.

The plaza will host a stage for performing artists, there will also be numerous food and craft vendors scattered around. The festivities will be family oriented, and coordinators expect thousands of curious people to pass through the Urban Center and the other locations.

Will the streetcar be a welcomed addition to the campus and the city? That, of course, remains to be seen. On the upside, students living in Northwest will have easier access to PSU, students can get to the library, Powell’s and the MAX line a little quicker and traffic congestion and pollution will hopefully be reduced. On a downside it only runs until 11:00 p.m. on weeknights and 12:30 a.m on weekend nights. Students will also have to put up with the park block intrusion and the hum, which hopefully won’t be too unbearable. Safety concerns have already been voiced by some students since the train will run directly through the campus and there are no warnings or guard rails.

Having thousands of people ride it from celebration to celebration this Saturday should be a good test. Keep those kids and pets on a leash.