Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Southern section of Springwater Trail to close until 2010

Posted by on August 27th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

A section of the Springwater Trail will be closed for five months while the city works on a sewer project in the area.

The city’s map of the trail closure and detour, from the project website.

According to the city’s website, the section of the trail that goes under the Sellwood Bridge, between SE Spokane and its southern terminus at SE Umatilla (the trail picks up again to the south and west after a much-contested gap), will be closed from this September through February, 2010.

The city is asking trail users to take a detour around the construction, and suggests using SE Spokane and SE 7th.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Esta Nevando Aqui August 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    For five months?! If it were still a working railroad, do you think they’d stop rail traffic for 5 months?

    Should be fun using 7th, as that’s the street all the Clackamas ***deleted by moderator*** use when they cut through the neighborhood in the morning at 40 mph. Not to mention it requires crossing two lanes of heavy traffic on Tacoma with no signal.

    Isn’t this a great biking city? Out of one side of their mouth, they can’t fawn enough about their bike-friendliness. Out of the other side, they can’t get the police to enforce any of the bike-related traffic laws except stop-sign stings. And they just randomly close important bike routes for months and years at a time without good alternatives.

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  • Anonymous August 27, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    If you’re in a hurry, the best way is to take a right on 13th and then a left on Umatilla. Not as busy as 7th but still signalized.

    If you don’t mind waiting for traffic to clear Tacoma, just use 9th (not 7th).

    There’s also a ped signal to cross Tacoma at 8th I believe.

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  • amos August 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    @#1: It’s only a small closure, I’m sure you can learn to deal with it. All roads are detoured from time to time.

    Clackamas idiots?… really?

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  • GLV August 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Yeah, it’s completely random. It has nothing to do with the location of a major sewer line. What is the city doing wasting my tax dollars fixing a stupid sewer anyway? I thought we were a biking city. I can’t ride my bike in a sewer.

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  • Tom Quick August 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for reporting on this. Much more clear than the “Trail Closed 9/5 – 2/15” messages on the trail.

    Curious as to how you found this on the city website. Let me guess – did you have to call or email someone to send a link?

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  • Steved August 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Crossing Tacoma at rush hour is going to be challenging. Thanks for the heads up!

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  • JB August 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for the information, this will affect my commute. Can anyone suggest a better way to cross Tacoma, maybe at a light?

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  • cyclist August 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Esta Nevando Aqui:

    The railroad line is still in use. They mostly run the train at night, but you’ll see one during the day from time-to-time.

    I live near 15th, I’ll probably either cross at 13th (signal) or 15th (ped crossing with a signal you can activate). Regardless of where you live along the way, this is probably a 1-2 minute inconvenience. Let’s not go nuts here.

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  • BURR August 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I don’t think Spokane actually connects through to the path, are they building a paved detour for cyclists?

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  • David August 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Spokane connects to the path, I ride it almost every day.

    Note, there are crosswalks at 7th and at 9th, but I would go up to 13th or even 17th and use the lights.

    Jonathan, what about the plans for the Spokane bike boulevard? Last I heard it was to be completed in November. Then it would make sense to take Spokane all the way up.


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  • David August 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    On second thought, I agree with cyclist (#8). Cross with the ped light at 15th.


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  • Jupe Blue August 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Cross at 13th, just be sure to take the lane. Show those drivers how many bikes usually sneak down Umatilla. That will open some drivers commuting eyes.

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  • dabby August 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    This is a non issue.

    The best way to go through here is to not follow the trail anyway, regardless of whether it is open or closed.

    Up Spokane to around tenth, then cut over…

    Suck it up Buttercup!

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  • bicycletothesun August 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Critical mass on Tacoma. 7AM 8/28/09. Be there!

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  • Dave Thomson August 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Jonathan – I think your reference link “(the trail picks up again to the south and west after a much-contested gap)” is incorrect; your link is to articles about the SK Northwest section of trail, which is a gap at the north end. The gap at the south end is a different issue.

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  • Elly Blue August 27, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks, Dave, I’ve fixed the story. 🙂 Sorry about that.

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  • Esta Nevando Aqui August 27, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    @ #14: Tacoma and what?

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  • Zig August 27, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Sadly, the BES website makes no mention of constructing part of the Sellwood Trail Gap in this project. It just notes, “coordination with the railroad and the future Springwater Trail route.” This is a perfect opportunity to build the trail down to Linn Street, but BES and Metro continue to wring their hands and bow to the grumpy old man that owns the railroad.

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  • Stig2 August 27, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    The Springwater section East of 92nd Ave is supposed to get repaved with bailout/stimulus dollars this Summer. Any word on that?

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  • cyclist August 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm


    Tthe portion of the trail that runs next to the Willamette was made possible by the “grumpy old man” who owns the railroad. He now wants to trade right of way on some of his land for a piece of land that will allow him to build s railroad museum. That hardly makes him grumpy, it makes him a normal human being.

    #14 Absolutely, positively no.

    Dabby: I’m not sure why 10th would be faster than taking the trail under the bridge. During rush hour Tacoma is pretty much wall-to-wall cars, it’d take a minute or so to find space that’ll allow you to cross. If you go under the bridge there’s no waiting.

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  • old&slow August 27, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    What a bunch of whiners! Good lord, this is just some city streets, I am pretty sure you can deal with riding a block or two over. “Critical Mass”? I think we should just riot and burn down Sellwood! Get a grip.

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  • Zaphod August 27, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    GLV #4, That’s some funny stuff. I can’t believe no one commented on the humor of it until now.

    Road construction *is* a drag but it exists everywhere & impacts all road users. I think we have it pretty good here in PDX.

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  • Afro Biker August 28, 2009 at 7:28 am

    wow the sense of entitlement is overwhelming.

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  • Duncan August 28, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Whoever is complaining about this doesnt live in my neighborhood- they have been messing up the surface streets here for linger than 6 mos. Right now Division is closed by my house and thats right after they reopened 60th… so yeah its a few blocks deal with it.

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  • Jacob August 28, 2009 at 8:31 am

    @ #1

    Geebus, major vehicle traffic roads are closed all the time, cagers somehow deal with it, why can’t you?

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  • cv August 28, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Anyone who isn’t complaining about this doesn’t commute through there. Having to cross Tacoma during rush hour sucks, especially in the dark of winter. 5 months seems like an unnecessarily long time, not that I know anything about building sewers. Add it up. I was cursing when I saw the signs this morning.

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  • cyclist August 28, 2009 at 10:56 am

    cv: You’re wrong, I live there. As detailed above, there are several good ways to cross Tacoma w/o having to wait an inordinately long time:

    1) Cross at 13th or 17th so that you get the traffic light. You shouldn’t have to wait more than 45 seconds.

    2) Cross the light at 15th by activating the Ped light. Assuming someone hasn’t activated it recently, you’ll probably have to wait for the light to turn.

    3) Get off your bike at one of the intersections with a marked crosswalk (I think they’re at 9th and 11th). As a pedestrian cars have to stop for you, so you can just walk right across without waiting and then get back on your bike again and move on.

    All told this should lead to about a two minute delay, while it might add two blocks to your commute it is a very minor inconvenience.

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  • Esta Nevando Aqui August 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Cyclist (# 27), you are missing the obvious fact that PBOT is *recommending* that cyclists cross Tacoma at 7th.

    Simply put, that is an unsafe place to cross Tacoma because motorists at that location routinely violate both the speed limit law and the law requiring them to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

    I live there too and I know it is a dangerous place for anyone driving, riding, or walking to cross Tacoma. It’s simply nonsense for you to imply that walking in the cross-walk is risk-free because “cars have to stop for you.” If you’ve ever tried to cross Tacoma at 7th, you know most will not stop for you. That’s why pedestrian-activated stoplights were placed at two other locations in the neighborhood, including one at Tacoma and 15th (other is 17th & Umatilla).

    Now, people like us who know the neighborhood know to cross at 13th. But what about people who don’t know the neighborhood well and follow the PBOT signs? They’re being unnecessarily subjected to increased risk from scofflaw motorists by PBOT’s shoddy directions.

    If you don’t like the complaining about inadequate infrastructure and detours for bicyclists, I recommend you stop reading bikeportland, because I am not going to stop pointing out problems and recommending solutions.

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  • cyclist August 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Esta Nevando Aqui: It sounds to me like your complaint isn’t with the construction, it’s with PBOT’s recommendation that you cross at 7th instead of 13th or 15th. If your problem is with PBOT’s recommendation, perhaps you should contact them and let them know you think the crossing at 7th is unsafe.

    As I said, I live in the area (and have for 3.5 years), I’ve crossed the street on Tacoma many times, and people DO stop for you in the marked crosswalks (they’re much less likely to stop for you at unmarked crosswalks, despite the fact that the law says they must). If you dismount your bike and cross the intersection in a crosswalk on foot, I guarantee you will be waiting at one of those marked intersections for less than a minute. I’m willing to put $20.00 on it if you want to meet me at one of the marked intersections during rush hour.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Given the length of closure and the importance of the route has PBoT developed an adequate work zone and detour plan that provides a comparable safe route (for a family oriented SUP)? (Jonathan – have you requested these documents – and can post them here?)

    Such a plan might include:
    – temporary traffic calming or bike lanes / parking restrictions for the detour route
    – temporary bike signalized crossings of arterials
    – targeted traffic speed enforcement

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  • Q`ztal August 29, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    cyclist: part of the problem with PBOT’s recommendation is that there is no consideration for bicycle traffic. If a 1/2 mile segment of I-205 was going to be shut down for for longer than a weekend the DOT would be mandated to set up a safe detour that could handle the traffic load. They would have to put up signage directing drivers through neighborhoods turn by turn. Traffic signals and signs would be modified for the increased traffic load.

    PBOT’s equivalent planning in this situation looks like it can be summed up as: “meh, go that way.” At some point their lack of planning may lead to liability issues: I’d rather my tax dollars go for over-planning than law suit settlements.

    We readers of BikePortland.org often forget that we are very well informed, much better informed than the average cyclist. Much more than the stream of Tacoma drivers. Some cyclists will not know what to do and get lost at best.

    I think we are missing a major opportunity to record non-recreation bike traffic through the Springwater trail. PBOT could put up a temporary ped light, like on 15th, at the recommended 7th & Tacoma crossing.

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  • Aaron August 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    This really isn’t terrible compared to many other construction detours that have come out of ODOT. I mean this area has lots of low-traffic residential streets which are just fine to bike on. Pluss the detour will be during winter when not as many people will be affected. Compare this to the detour of the I-205 path on 92nd. Or the completely BRILLIANT detour of the Springwater near SE 172nd where the only alternative was Powell Blvd and IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER.
    So understand, it could be worse.

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  • KWW August 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Crossing Tacoma at 7th is dangerous. The alternative of crossing at 13th is no less dangerous either as eastbound traffic has an extended green and drivers routinely speed the entire portion from the Sellwood bridge to beyond 17th if they get the green.

    Remember that a little girl was killed at 13th and Tacoma a while ago.

    DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE TWO LANE ROAD. Sellwood bridge is the busiest two lane bridge in the state.

    I believe that PBOT has to get involved and install traffic calming especially during the winter, or a pedestrian red light like that on 15th, at 7th.


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  • Dan August 30, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    THAT’S their solution? That is a horrible detour, directing bike traffic across a street (Tacoma) that is incredibly busy during rush hour. Safer to pirate ride the current route?

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  • cyclist August 31, 2009 at 10:06 am


    I don’t see how the eastbound traffic’s extended green light is in any way related to crossing at 13th. If you sit at the light and wait for a green on 13th you’ll be able to cross the intersection quickly and safely. In the morning most northbound traffic on 13th is turning left (to get on the bridge), so crossing Tacoma and going up to Spokane should be pretty easy. The only way the extended eastbound light is a problem is if you plan on blowing the light at 13th, in which case I’d hope you’d look both ways before you decided to cross.

    Q`ztal: I’ve got no problem with people complaining about the detour route that the DOT chose, crossing at 7th is probably the worst option of any of the options given… the DOT really should be sending people coming off the Springwater Trail to 15th.

    My problem is that people are complaining about the trail closure itself, despite the fact that there are several easy, safe alternate routes that will get you where you want to go. Further, much of the complaining seems to be from people who don’t ride the trail, and thus don’t know how easy it is to get around the construction.

    I’ll be riding around the construction 5 days a week starting next week and ending in mid-February… I’m not at all worried about it, and I suspect that those who ride it with me will quickly figure out the best way around the problem as well.

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  • kww August 31, 2009 at 11:19 am

    My issue is not in the am, but in the pm during the winter, that bikes traveling southbound will cross, not by looking at the red light, but by seeing that the westbound traffic has stopped, and automatically cross (in error).

    Yes, people shouldn’t do that, but they will, and someone could get maimed by the loonies speeding through the neighborhood.

    As for me, I take the trail every work day.

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  • KruckyBoy August 31, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    (#31)-Uh- we had a road closure by my place of work for over 15 months. This means that both cars and bikes had to go 3 extra blocks to reach the entrance of our building. Somehow we all managed to survive. Life is tough. Suck it up. There is no law that says as cyclists we have to be pampered 24-7. Sometimes I think the PDX bike community is only happy when it can be constant martyr.

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  • cyclist August 31, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    kww: So what you’re saying is that a cyclist who runs a red, and doesn’t look both ways before he does so, is going to get hit by a car. And whose fault is that?

    As I’ve mentioned, I live a few blocks away and walk, bike, and drive through the neighborhood. In all of the time I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen a pedestrian get hit while crossing the street against the light. Are people that much smarter because they’re on foot rather than on a bike?

    There’s no difference between traveling northbound and southbound at 13th, if you decide you’re going to run a red light I sure hope you have the good sense to look both ways before you do so. Blaming the city because people don’t have the good sense to figure out when they’re supposed to go strikes me as ludicrous. Perhaps the city can protect us poor dumb cyclists by having someone stand at the intersection so they can tell us when it’s safe to cross the road.

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  • Matt Picio August 31, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Amplifying on what cyclist (#20) said:

    The “grumpy old man” is Dick Samuels. He bought that rail line from Southern Pacific when they stopped providing reasonable service to their customers, and despite some wrangling with the city in 1990 over the Springwater Corridor, he’s been quite accommodating to the public. Springwater on the Willamette would not have been possible without his assistance, and the “Sellwood Gap” is a similar project. Both are happening because the city is paying for rail relocation and rebuilding – the city gets to build the trail at relatively low cost, and Samuels gets new FRA-compliant track in return, and a few rebuilt crossings and switches. It’s been a beneficial arrangement for both parties.

    Also, the rail museum that Samuels intends to build will house the 3 steam locomotives that the City of Portland owns. Those locomotives represent a valuable historic resource and tourist attraction.

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