River Plan hearing a big moment for Greenway Trail backers

Freightliner and Swan Island

Looking south at start of “Cement Road”
connection between Swan Island
and Lower Albina.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Tonight at 6:00 pm the Portland City Council will host a hearing and vote on the River Plan/North Reach project. The plan includes the first update to the alignment of the North Willamette Greenway Trail in over three decades.

The North Willamette Greenway Trail would connect the Eastbank Esplanade to Cathedral Park in St. Johns with a biking and walking path along the river. The project is still in the planning stages, but supporters of the trail — including the newly formed Swan Island Bike Commuters Group and the established non-profit NP Greenway — say inclusion of the trail in the River Plan is a major step forward.

Jim Kysela is a Senior Test Engineer at Swan Island-based Daimler Trucks North America. Kysela is just one of over 50 members of the Swan Island Bike Commuters Group (SIBCG) who has signed onto a letter to Council in support of the trail alignment in the River Plan.

In particular, Kysela and the SIBCG are throwing their weight behind a segment of the trail that would connect Swan Island south through the Lower Albina industrial area. Currently, Swan Island bike commuters ride what is known as the “Cement Road” to go south toward lower Albina. That route is an unimproved gravel roadway and security guards from Union Pacific Railroad (they own the property) are known to stop and warn riders that they don’t have the legal right to use it.

In a letter to City Council the SIBCG notes that the only fully legal route is via N. Greeley and Interstate — both of which are busy roads full of fast-moving trucks that only have a narrow lane for bikes.

The letter states that the proposed trail alignment would,

“link the central city more directly and safely to the ten thousand jobs in Swan Island Industrial Area… The route would also provide a safe and scenic connection to other existing and planned bike/trail infrastructure in North Portland and beyond.”

Another group that will be in City Hall tonight to support the trail alignment is the non-profit North Portland Greenway. Francie Royce, one of the core members of npGreenway, says the adoption of the River Plan with the trail alignment is vital because it will put an updated trail alignment on official city maps. Then, when developers file for permits along the route, they will be required by the City to either dedicate a portion of the property to the trail (an easement) or just build the trail segment themselves.

There has been some recent controversy around this plan, with commercial and shipping interests claiming it will harm their business, but Royce says the trail is not a part of those concerns. “None of the sticking points with Working RIverfront Alliance that have been holding up approval of the North Reach of the RIver Plan is with the trail, as far as we can tell.”

Here are the details on tonight’s City Council hearing:

    River Plan/North Reach City Council Public Hearing
    Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 6:00 PM
    Portland City Council Chambers (1221 SW 4th Avenue)

For more information on the trail, visit NPGreenway.org.

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 maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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14 years ago

This is one project that I think would be a “win win” situation for portland. the payoff will be trendous for decades to come

14 years ago

“Tremendous” I know- i should proofread BEFORE I post

14 years ago

I used to ride to work on Greeley at 3:30 am every morning. Having trucks blow by at 50mph in the dark is a little hairy.

Do want.

14 years ago

the loose gravel on greely is a bit hairy too