Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 18th, 2012 at 2:44 pm
As we enter the rainy season, a 100-foot section of the Springwater Corridor Trail that eroded away back in March, remains closed. So far, Portland Parks & Recreation has not begun work to shore up the Willamette riverbank below or repair the path; but yesterday, spokesman Mark Ross said we can expect a fix by the end of the year.
The impacted section of the path is a very busy section about one mile south of OMSI. The path is only about 10-12 feet wide in that section and the damage (referred to as a "trail failure") has resulted in about half of it being closed. That leaves only one, relatively narrow lane that serves a significant amount of two-way walking and bicycling traffic.
"The project, an unforeseen emergency, has proven to be a unique fix that is far more complicated than a casual observer might realize."
— Mark Ross, PP&R spokesman
Ross says PP&R staff have been working to fix the path since March, but that it "has proven to be a unique fix that is far more complicated than a casual observer might realize." The full repair is being broken into two parts. The first, planned for completion "this winter season", would repair/replace the damaged section of the path and return it to its original width. The second step, to happen next year, is to reinforce the riverbank itself and ensure that it doesn't wash out again in the future.
Ross points to "complex" permitting requirements as one reason for the delay.
Since the work to shore up the riverbank is "in-water", it requires special permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. Those permits than trigger a consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish and Wildlife. Then there's the greenway permit required by the City of Portland, a permit from the Bureau of Development Services, the Oregon Department of State Lands, and so on.
Ross says funding is coming together and they hope to start the project soon. Asked whether they would close the path completely if the erosion worsens, Ross said PP&R will continue to monitor the area and that he doesn't want to rule anything out. "Safety is the top priority for Portland Parks & Recreation, and we will act accordingly as conditions dictate."
Once repair work begins there will likely be a detour, with a complete path closure between the Oaks Bottom parking lot north to SE Ivon (near Ross Island Sand & Gravel).
Stay tuned. In the meantime, use caution and slow down for oncoming traffic when you see the orange cones.