Bagpipes, bigwigs, and bear hugs at Three Bridges opening

Three Bridges dedication ceremony

[Milwaukie Mayor Jim Bernard
and Congressman Earl
Blumenauer cut the ribbon.]

Transportation advocates, neighborhood leaders, and elected officials huddled under a tent on a blustery morning yesterday to officially dedicate the on-time and on-budget Three Bridges Project on the Springwater Corridor Trail.

Portland Parks Director Zari Santner led the ceremony and introduced key players in the project, from the construction engineer to U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

Also on hand at the ceremony were City of Milwaukie Mayor Jim Bernard, a slew of PDOT staffers, Metro Councilors Rex Burkholder and Brian Newman, advocates from the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, and others.

Three Bridges dedication ceremony

The big theme of the speeches was connectivity. These three bridges—which cross Johnson Creek, McLoughlin Blvd., and a railroad track—not only fill a major gap in the popular Springwater Corridor Trail, but they connect Portland to Milwaukie.

An ebullient Jim Bernard, who stole the show with his candid humor, put it best when he said, “We’re proud to have Portland as our suburb.”

Metro’s Rex Burkholder, who was the founder of the BTA and on the oversight committee for the project, emphasized how these bridges, “…cross a lot of boundaries, not just between cities, but between communities.”

Burkholder also stressed the importance of passing Measure 26-80 so we can continue to close trail gaps.

Congressman Blumenauer stressed how the new bridges, “make our transportation system more complete for all users.” He then went on to remind the crowd to start focusing on the new federal transportation bill coming up three years from now.

Three Bridges dedication ceremony

[Pam Arden and Barbara Walker
of the 40-Mile Loop Land
Trust join Blumenauer]

Adding perspective to the proceedings was a touching moment when Barbara Walker, the Queen of the 40-Mile Loop stepped on the stage and reminded the crowd that it was 100 years ago that famed landscape architect Charles Olmstead (best known for Central Park in NYC) first envisioned a trail that would surround and connect Portland.

When Walker gave Congressman Blumenauer a huge bear hug it really put the event, and the trail, into perspective.

Moving on from the speeches, the large crowd followed blaring bagpipes and walked over the three bridges, cutting a ribbon at the entry to each one. At the tail-end of the group, I happened upon Potter and Barbara Walker walking arm-and-arm, savoring their the moment like old friends.

Three Bridges dedication ceremony

[Rex Burkholder with
McLoughlin bridge in
the background.]

Mayor Potter joined us at the last stop and told the crowd that it was 30 years ago when he first met Walker and heard about her 40-Mile Loop idea. In his speech, with his arm around Walker, he said, “All of this comes from the minds of our citizens, let’s give them a big round of applause.”

Other key gaps still remain in the Springwater Corridor and there is more work ahead, but yesterday we savored a great accomplishment for our city.

[View all the photos from this event]

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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17 years ago

Hmmm….my first trip across the bridge I get a flat from a hunk of glass. My second trip across the bridge I have trouble navigating the hairpin turn the brilliant engineers used. I give up, I ‘ve never had any trouble crossing at Ochoco street anyway.

Matt Picio
17 years ago

Now all we need is a bike-safe crossing over SE 17th!

This is a nice set of bridges – once the Sellwood gap is plugged, and a permanent solution found for SE 4th & Carruthers, we’ll have a continous paved trail from the Steel Bridge to the Clackamas County line east of Gresham.

One nice thing about the 2 remaining “problem areas” is that it can be strongly argued that the Springwater is a transportation corridor rather than a recreational one, which frees up a lot more funding.

Evan Manvel, BTA
17 years ago

To clarify, Rex was one of several co-founders of the BTA. Hooray!

But the note about passing Measure 26-80 is key: this stuff doesn’t get built if we don’t have the money. Help out with the campaign today!

Jim Labbe
Jim Labbe
17 years ago

Will the Springwater Corridor Gap be finished if Measure 26-80 doesn’t pass? Probably. Will it happen sooner if it does; that’s what I heard from Metro staff the other day. And will the region be able to expand other regional trails connected to the Springwater Corridor- such as the Gresham Fairview Trail and Springwater Corridor from Boring to Barton- absolutely.

Measure 26-80 would help build eight multi-use trail corridors projects around the region. The measure will also provide local share dollars to complete numerous local trail projects. The eight regional trail corridor projects are:

Sellwood Gap of the Springwater Corridor: Last one-mile segment not in public ownership between downtown Portland and Boring, OR (21-miles). Currently, an estimated 600,000 people use the existing trail just to the east each year. The trail corridor is located in a very urban and older Portland neighborhood in southeast Portland, just south of the Sellwood Bridge.

Cazadero Trail: Descending into the steeply wooded Deep Creek canyon in eastern Damascus, the Cazadero Trail that will link Gresham, Barton and public lands in the area and complete the Springwater Corridor from downtown Portland to Barton. Acquisition of the surrounding natural areas would protect a key wildlife corridor connecting the Clackamas River to habitat areas within the more urbanized portions of the county.

Fanno Creek Greenway Trail (southwest Portland, including Johns Landing, Hillsdale, Vermont Hills, etc.; Beaverton, Tigard and Durham). A very urban trail passes through established neighborhoods connecting parks, community centers, libraries, schools, commercial and shopping areas. Thousands of homes and people are along the trail corridor. About one-half of the trail has been completed.

Westside Trail (along a power line corridor) connecting the Tualatin River north to the Willamette River just north of Forest Park. 181,000 people live within one-mile of the trail, including 46 schools, and 272 parks. Another very urban trail. The cities of Beaverton and Tigard residents will be able to use the trail daily. It is literally adjacent to their front and backyards.

Gresham / Fairview Trail: 5.2 miles connecting the Springwater Corridor Trail north to the 40-Mile Loop Trail along the Columbia River. Very urban trail with thousands of homes and residents along the corridor. The trail will cross through dozens of neighborhoods, past schools, parks, shopping districts and commercial areas.

Tonquin Trail: A proposed 12-mile trail that would connect the town centers of Wilsonville, Sherwood and Tigard. The large housing development of Villebois at the north end of Wilsvonville has already built its section of the trail as an amenity for its homeowners and renters. The trail will connect to the Fanno Creek Greenway Trail via a bike/ped bridge which is under construction over the Tualatin River. The bridge is located the Tualatin River where the cities of Durham, Tigard and Tualatin meet.

Willamette River Greenway: acquire land and right of way for future trails from Wilsonville north to Kelly Point Park (confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers). The Willamette River Greenway Trail in Portland and the suburbs would benefit from new trail segments along the river. The trail would connect to the existing Springwater on the Willamette River Trail and the future south waterfront trail adjacent to the new urban village and condos and OHSU Campus.

Columbia Slough Trail: Acquire land and right of way along the slough connecting to existing trails near the Smith and Bybee Lakes Natural Area, the Peninsula Crossing Trail and 40-Mile Loop Greenway Trail in north/northeast Portland.

In addition, Measure 26-80 will raise $44 million allocated to local park providers at the city and county levels for park related acquisition and development. Many of these projects are local trail projects. Local share trail projects include the Bronson and Rock Creek Greenway Trail in Hillsboro, Rock Creek Trail in Happy Valley, bike and pedestrian trail along the Willamette in Lake Oswego, the Boekman Creek Trail in Wilsonville, the Willamette River Greenway Trail in Portland, the Gresham Fairview Trail in Gresham, and many more. For a full list see:

17 years ago

I’m not giving an opinion, just offering another perspective. Willamette Week is suggesting a NO vote on Measure 26-80:

(Open Spaces)
Measure 26-80: NO

What’s the Fuss? More than a million people are expected to pour into the region in the next 25 years, prompting proponents to argue that now is the time to buy and preserve green-space land to protect natural areas and wildlife and to keep stream waters pure.

What’s the Fix? A $227.4 million bond measure to buy about 4,500 acres in natural areas, with $59 million going to cities, counties, parks and neighborhoods for smaller projects.

Here’s the Deal: Conceptually, who could argue with the desire to have Metro, the regional government, buy land for green spaces?

We do, for the following reasons. First of all, there are several money measures on the ballot deserving your support, and this is the least pressing among them. Second, critics have pointed to the fact that part of the land Metro seeks to buy is so far outside the urban growth boundary that it’s not only beyond Metro’s jurisdiction but is unnecessary, at least for the next several decades. Others have pointed out that some of the targeted land is farmland, which would be taken out of cultivation.

But we’ve got one even better reason to vote no on this measure—and that’s to send a message to Metro, an unusual beast. This regional government was created with the idea that it would do a few things that crossed city and county borders—garbage and land-use planning among them. But recently, Metro has exhibited the sort of ‘mission creep’ that anti-government types love to rant about. Why is Metro wasting tax dollars talking about health care? Why does Metro have staff dedicated to affordable housing when it hasn’t built a stick of housing (and has no current plans to) and there are other capable agencies that do this?

We think that Metro head David Bragdon has the desire to clean up his agency, just not the steel. Hopefully, the defeat of this measure will give him just that.

Evan Manvel, BTA
17 years ago

The Willamette Week’s advocacy makes no sense.

1. Least pressing? Some of these critical natural areas will be developed and become unavailable; all will presumably cost a lot more in the future than now.

2. Outside UGB? Yes, that’s what planning for the future is for. Forest Park was once outside the City.

3. Losing farmland? It’s either going to be developed or made a park. Your choice.

4. Metro mission creep? This is the core of what Metro does. Metro’s housing and health care efforts are to SAVE tax dollars by regional coordination; but whatever, they’re not on the ballot, regional natural areas, parks, and streams — clearly Metro’s mission – are.

Thinking defeating this will get Metro on track is whacked. Instead of putting more of their effort into parks and implementing Measure 26-80, they could just as easily say, “the region doesn’t want parks — let’s focus on housing and health care.”


17 years ago

Someone recently wrote that Dick Samuels (owner of the Portland Traction tracks that run next to the Springwater Trail) was going to offer right of way to Metro in exchange for a parcel of land so he could build his rail museum:

Does anyone know what’s come of this?

Matt M
Matt M
17 years ago

I’ve been accross the new bridges several times over the last month since they took down the fences and I love it! It makes it much more enjoyable ride from Milwaukie to Sellwood.

Now if we can only connect this project to the proposed Trolley Trail that will run from Milwaukie south toward Oregon City & Gadstone? See the link below for more details-

Roger Louton, private citizen

Jim Labbe noted:

“Westside Trail (along a power line corridor) connecting the Tualatin River north to the Willamette River just north of Forest Park. 181,000 people live within one-mile of the trail, including 46 schools, and 272 parks. Another very urban trail. The cities of Beaverton and Tigard residents will be able to use the trail daily. It is literally adjacent to their front and backyards.”

Back in the Spring, this guy,
Kevin Guinn
Grass-roots Development
Natural Areas, Parks and Streams Campaign
C 971-533-9835

made a presentation at a PUMP meeting. His angle? and I quote:”This bond measure would help build a trail to Forest Park, one that connects right to Wildwood Trail! You mountain bikers would have better access to the park from the north. I was told if I dangled this carrot, your group would bite on this idea!”

When I mentioned to him that “Wildwood is CLOSED to bicycles”, he said he did not know that. When I mentioned this statement to Jim Sjulin of Portland Parks, he said he had NO KNOWLEDGE of this Bond Measure having any money earmarked for a NEW TRAIL in Forest Park. So, if these Bond Measure folks want people to ‘bite’ on the carrots they dangle, maybe they should get their facts straight before they talk about details they know nothing about. Certainly gives this registered voter NO confidence in their plan. Most of us at the meeting were insulted by Mr. Guinn’s ‘carrot’ statement; made us felt like we were oblivious to the sausage making mechanations of government.

Metro builds affordable housing? Excellent point, Cate. I’d like to see what those folks in that group accomplish. Sorta like the Portland Parks Dept. working on Transportation Plans. Isn’t that what the Transportation Dept should be doing?

17 years ago

One other comment, the million people number –

“More than a million people are expected to pour into the region in the next 25 years…”

comes from Metro and includes projected growth in seven counties, two of which are across the river in Washington. Metro’s region is three counties: Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas. They have been using this projected growth number to justify the need for their bond measure even though four of the counties are outside their realm.

I haven’t decided yet on how I’ll vote, but the politics, as Roger mentioned, are insulting.

One other comment, if I remember right, Jim Labbe works for the Portland Audobon Society.

17 years ago

I think it needs to be made clearer that while the bridges are open, the entire Springwater Corridor is not open yet. It is still closed between Johnson Creek Blvd. and where Tacoma crosses the trail. I have given directions to many bikers on how to get around the closure. The signs are there, but many people blow by the signs, paying no attention to them.