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PORTLAND-The Portland City Council unanimously approved Freightliner’s plan to build a wind tunnel research lab in North Portland on Swan Island Lagoon, which is home to other industrial uses.

Freightliner, one of Portland larger employers, has let go some 1,850 employees and has plans to let go another 780 as it tries to hold on for the long term. The research lab is part of that plan, as it helps the company continue to address future needs despite the current economic backslide. Not many jobs will be created with the lab, but less drag will help keep Freightliner trucks competitive, which is good for the company’s long-term success, say those in favor of the project.

The project would extend some 60 feet into Swan Island Lagoon. Prior to its tentative approval, a city land use hearing officer is recommended denial because the projects seeks to build on what could be considered a Willamette River Greenway, which goes against state land use laws.

The project would be built on land owned by Freightliner and the Division of State lands. The area includes an inlet that includes other industrial uses that have piers into the lagoon. Freightliner says it would replace an existing retaining wall and revegetate the area with trees and shrubs, and now has three weeks to get specifics on the environmental work. Final approval of the project is still to come.

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