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Metro releases plan for $50 million Hillsboro-to-Banks biking and walking path

Posted by on October 22nd, 2015 at 9:20 am

council creek route
Red: short-term. Green: mid-term.
Blue: long-term.
(Image: Metro)

An arrow-straight railside trail between Hillsboro and Forest Grove would be one of the first phases of a planned bikeway through the heart of Washington County.

The Council Creek Regional Trail is a vision for a mostly off-road connection between Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Banks — which will also connect the westernmost stop in the MAX system with some of Oregon’s best rural bike routes, including the beloved Banks-Vernonia Trail and a possible future connection to the Pacific Coast.

When we last checked in on the planning process, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance was urging planners to choose the shorter, straighter “Rail 1” route between Hillsboro and Banks rather than a winding creekside alternative to the north.

According to the master plan published last month, the straight railside route was chosen, meaning that this is also likely to become, someday, a popular transportation connection west of Hillsboro.


hillsborothing1
Cross-section concept for the Forest Grove section of the path.
(Grahic: Metro)

There are many more details in the new plan (PDF), including some preliminary cost estimates, lots of details about the likely and possible alignments and how bike traffic will be separated from auto traffic. (Most segments are multi-use paths but a few stretches include bike lanes or wide sidewalks.)

Like other plans, this one is just a starting gun for fundraising to begin. But nobody is going to fund an idea that hasn’t been planned yet, and thanks to Washington County’s tradition of funding paths with property tax revenue and its strong support for bike recreation, getting this bikeway on the ground is very likely to happen eventually.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

30 Comments
  • Tad October 22, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Fantastic idea – especially in that you could pop your bike onto the MAX and then go for an excellent ride without having to contend with cars & such, which would be a fantastic way to spend a weekend day with kids.

    Recommended Thumb up 12

  • Adam Herstein October 22, 2015 at 9:32 am

    I’ve been wanting to check out the Banks-Vernonia trail, but don’t want to ride to the start and don’t have a car to transport my bike. Being able to take MAX to the start would be great!

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    • Jim Labbe October 22, 2015 at 9:35 am

      The current route via rural roads is quite pleasant. Don’t wait for this project to be completed to check it out!

      Recommended Thumb up 22

      • dmc October 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm

        Absolutely! The current route is so pleasant! It is very beautiful.

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    • zholz October 22, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Very excited for this too! But, as Jim said, don’t wait to check out Banks-Vernonia! It’s a real gem, and the rural roads to get to the trailhead are truly a breath of fresh air. I also don’t have a car, so I take MAX to the end of the line in Hillsboro and ride from there. You can take the scenic bikeway route (longer, but nice) or this shorter one which is just as pleasant: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/6638223

      And Stub Stewart is one of the best bike-in campsites I’ve ever stayed at. Highly recommended!

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Lynne October 22, 2015 at 10:39 am

        My only recommendation for that route, is rather than turning R on Aerts, which means you must cross Hwy 6 at-grade and climb some steepish hills, is to continue on Wilkesboro, R on Hwy 47 (where you will cross UNDER Hwy 6), and follow Hwy 47 through town to the trailhead. Bonus – Jim’s Thriftway on the R at the one traffic light in town, if you need anything. Plus, excellent coffee/ice cream shop on the L almost to the trailhead. Has a bicycle sculpture out front.

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        • zholz October 22, 2015 at 10:48 am

          Absolutely agree! That crossing was the sketchiest part. Your route is way better. I did that route this time because I liked the hill over there, winding by the golf course, & I had ridden through Banks a number of times already and wanted to change it up. :)

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        • Adam Herstein October 22, 2015 at 10:53 pm

          Thanks for the recommendation! I guess I assumed I’d be riding on busy highways most of the time.

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          • Lynne October 23, 2015 at 9:42 am

            99% of Washington County is not like TV Hwy. Even Cornelius-Schefflin, which is the most direct route to FG from Hwy 26, has excellent relatively new shoulders west of Glencoe. While most roads do not have shoulders, they also do not have much traffic.

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    • Todd Boulanger October 25, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Adam – go for it…its is not too bad…especially if you work in some stops for groceries and hanging out with the locals at a bar.

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  • Jim Labbe October 22, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Very exciting and significant to make this regional connection. In addition to making a vital connection supra-regional connection to the Salmonberry Trail, it will help build a stronger constituency for the regional trails system in Washington County. I really appreciate Bikeportland covering these bike/pedestrian projects and initiatives outside of Portland (like yesterday’s report on Milwaukie). Keep it up!

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • rick October 22, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Surely this same thing can be done on the rail corridor by deadly TV Highway? Four people have died on that highway this year. What other ODOT highway regularly has parked semi trucks dropping off cars for the car dealers on the actual highway? Parked.

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  • Chris I October 22, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Just rode from Hillsboro to the beach last Friday. The connection from Hillsboro to Banks leaves a lot to be desired. Why can’t they run a trail adjacent to the rail line that runs directly between the two towns? The rural roads for the existing route were pretty quiet, but there are still a few bad connections, and the route basically requires you to have a map or phone out at all times so you don’t miss a turn. The straight shot along the rail line would be quicker and safer.

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    • Lynne October 22, 2015 at 10:34 am

      I feel the same way if I am riding into Portland – needing a map. Places you are not familiar with do that to you. Ditto for any destination in SW PDX. I don’t even like to DRIVE there. Bermuda Triangle.

      Now, riding from Hillsboro to Banks is a lovely, scenic, quiet ride, where I don’t need a map :-)

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      • zholz October 22, 2015 at 10:51 am

        Also nothing wrong with needing a map. :) It’s fun sometimes to not really know where you’re going. It’s cliche, but I count that as all part of the experience.

        Though if you do the scenic bikeway route, it’s pretty well signed and easy enough to follow without a map.

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        • GlowBoy October 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm

          “It’s fun sometimes to not really go where you’re going”.

          True, but only when the routes are safe.

          Recommended Thumb up 2

    • RangersSon October 22, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Because the straight shot helps Cornelius and FG Commuters as well as touristy travelers that want to get out to Banks. It’s more inclusive to go Hillsboro, Cornelis and then right hook up to Banks…

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      • Chris I October 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

        I guess in a perfect world we could have both. But that is asking way too much of Wash Co.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Tom Hardy October 22, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      From the Hillsboro MAX station go west a block then north and follow the road bearing west. when you get to just north of forest Grove jog south a quarter mile to long road then head north and west to Verboort and then North to Banks. Have done it for a couple decades. A couple of sketchy spots on 47. An alternative would be to go to 6 and north to cross 26 just west of the top of the Vernonia hill and continue to recatch 47 and then Pittsburgh to Scappose. Make your way back on 30 to Portland, A nice century+.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Lynne October 22, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I look forward to a straight shot from Hillsboro to FG. Currently, when I want to get there quickly, it is Baseline->TV Hwy. Since I am not turning, it isn’t bad, just loud.

    Couldn’t figure out the yellow highlighting. Today, I would never ride on Hwy 47 from Greenville to Banks. I’d turn R on Greenville, L on Roy Rd, L on Wilkesboro Rd, carefully cross the Tracks of Death, R on Hwy 47, and into Banks.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • LC October 22, 2015 at 10:41 am

    I ride the to the banks-vernonia trail from Seattle via the coast a couple of times a year, not crazy about the run between banks and hillsboro, and am greatly looking forward to this connection.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Adam October 22, 2015 at 10:53 am

    This is fantastic!

    Although, I have to say, I would prefer a safer route to get to Cornelius from Hillsboro. The only (and I do mean only) way to get there currently is on that enormous highway.

    Cornelius and Forest Grove are jumping off points for a lot of cycling out in Washington County. I wish there were a safer way to get to them.

    There are already safe ways to get to Banks from Hillsboro, on low-traffic country roads.

    Not knocking the project at all! I just wish there were funding for other much needed biking/walking links in the region.

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    • Alex Reed October 22, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Uh… I have only ridden in the area a few times, but on the map it looks like the proposed alignment does exactly that – connects Hillsboro to Cornelius, then turns north towards Banks. Can you explain why you feel this proposed path wouldn’t be a good link between Hillsboro and Cornelius?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Lynne October 22, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      There exists everal ways to get from Hillsboro to Cornelius. The most DIRECT is straight out TV Hwy, and the shoulder is certainly adequate. Here’s one: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/10906069

      The proposed route appears to follow the rail alignment from Hillsboro to FG, passing through Cornelius, paralleling TV Hwy to the north. Works for me.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • KristenT October 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    That looks really cool! Now they need to figure out how to hook up the other western/southwestern suburbs with a similar trail system… Wouldn’t that be cool, eh?

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    • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Actually, there is an abandoned rail ROW that parallels HWY 47 from Forest Grove all the way down to McMinnville. It just needs to be developed into a trail.

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      • Lynne October 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm

        Wouldn’t that be the Yamhelas Westrider Trail?

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  • Lynne October 23, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Yamhelas WestSIDER Trail. Anyway, here: http://www.yamhelaswestsidertrail.com

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  • Alan 1.0 October 25, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I’m a little surprised that there are not more questions here about Metro’s spending priorities, as $50M is a nice chunk of change when it comes to non-car projects. The route from Hillsboro MAX to Banks is already an “8-80” (age group) in my experience, with the least friendly part being the mile or two of suburban streets to get out of Hillsboro, and that part is not really that hard. This looks like a very nice route and developing it might even lure me out there, but the existing route also attracts me as-is, and if I paid taxes to Metro I might be wondering about bang-for-the-buck options, serving more taxpayers and providing more bike/ped folks with better options to more dangerous routes in its jurisdiction.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Wow. This is great news!

    Made my day…now only if WSDOT could do the same along SR6 west of Chehalis (just south of Centralia Amtrak Stn)…there is a prime route along the flood ravaged abandoned rails to trail crying out for similar. Those commercially dying communities along SR6 need it bad…a bit of bike tourism injection to keep their post offices/ bars and corner stores open seasonally.

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