The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Springwater Trail to close for up to four months next summer

Posted by on March 30th, 2010 at 8:53 am

Bikes at Earth Day

A very popular section of the trail
would be effected by the closure.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A project to enhance and improve the 170-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge could close a popular section of the Springwater Corridor Trail for up to four months next summer. This closure is separate from the re-paving project that will come with intermittent closures through this summer starting next month.

Portland Parks & Recreation and the Bureau of Environmental Services say their Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project is 60% designed. Among the plan of the project are to enhance fish passage in and out of the river by replacing an existing culvert, remove invasive vegetation and add educational signage about the wetlands along the Springwater Trail.

Anne Nelson with BES says the trail closure is necessary because equipment to do the work must be transported on it. Here’s more from Nelson:

“The trail closure is for up to 4 months, because in addition to the work directly below the trail, the equipment for the work described above all require the equipment to be moved along the trail to access the site. Unfortunately, summer is the “fish window” for in-water work. This is the only time we are able to do this in work in compliance with our permitting agencies.”

Check the map below for a map that shows the section of trail that will be closed:

We’ll keep you posted on detour information as it’s released.

The City has scheduled an open house on the project for Tuesday, April 6th from 6-8:00pm at SMILE Station (8210 SE 13th). More information at the official project page.

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  • KWW March 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

    BES’s website is vague about the closure:
    “The Springwater Trail will close for up to 120 days in summer 2011. Bicyclists and pedestrians will detour to surface streets.”
    Which streets?
    The map shown doesn’t delineate limits of closure either, just the project border area, with only a culvert crossing the trail.
    Are we to assume that they will be using the trail as staging access, hence the long closure time???

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  • Greg Haun March 30, 2010 at 10:32 am

    It would be great if we could first build the Springwater Bypass Trail alongside Eastmoreland Golf Course as outlined in the 2030 Bicycle Plan first!

    Springwater Bypass Trail is my name for it and you can see it most clearly (but unnamed) on the trail map on the page labeled 79 (page 105 in the full pdf). The trail goes from the Springwater Corridor near the 3 bridges project to the Springwater Willamette trailhead near SE Milwaukie and 99E. We really need this trail anyway to alleviate crowding on the willamette and provide a fast commute route from the far SE.

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  • Rob March 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

    While I’m all for habitat enhancement at Oaks Bottom, I’m skeptical of the long time frame of this closure. I wonder if any alternatives are being discussed (partial staging at the amusement park, contract inducements to shorten closure time, etc.). If this follows the example of the current trail closure (under the Sellwood Bridge), we can expect to see a much longer closure due to slow work progress. (When that portion of the trail was initally closed, very little work occurred in the first month or two. This has resulted in a two month – and counting- delay in reopening the trail.)

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  • BURR March 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    why can’t they move equipment on the rail right-of-way adjacent to the trail? that hardly ever gets used.

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  • March 30, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Yep, 4 months will probably stretch into 6 months. The sewer work, which closed the trail between Umatilla and Spokane, was supposed to be done in February. When I rode by last week, there was still a roadblock on Umatilla.

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  • RyNO Dan March 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    NOT OK ! What is the estimate for how many thousand cycle trips would be interrupted ?

    There should be a connector from the Springwater up to the Holgate area. So if building that is the envisioned detour, then it would be worth it.

    And finally, the “Project Area Boundary” clearly does not include the SW trail. So those responsible need to change the graphic. Best, –DanS–

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  • Paul Cone March 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Technically that portion of the Springwater Trail is called the “Springwater on the Willamette” trail.

    Paul Cone
    Mapping and GIS
    City of Portland, Bureau of Transportation

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  • carless in pdx March 30, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    This totally sucks. One of the best cycling environments to introduce newcomers to Portland’s bicycle scene… totally wasted this year. I’m pretty bummed, since I’ve been looking forward to riding down there all winter. 🙁

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  • eag March 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Are there going to be any volunteer opportunities that may help speed up the project? I’m sure plenty of Springwater travelers would be more than happy to lend a hand, especially if it meant quickening the pace of the project.

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  • Sigma March 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    why can’t they move equipment on the rail right-of-way adjacent to the trail? that hardly ever gets used.

    It gets used often enough. Local governments have absolutely no authority over railroads. Telling a RR they can’t use tracks they own for any period of time would have probably required an act of Congress. I’m not kidding.

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  • q`Tzal March 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    When a major bicycle route like this is removed, however temporarily, shouldn’t an equally safe route be provided?

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  • Rob March 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Sigma (#9), I don’t think Burr was suggesting that BES tell the RR they can’t use the tracks, but rather lease the tracks from them.

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  • kitten March 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    the most popular MUP in the whole city, and they decide to close it. Equivalent to closing I-5 for a few months to install a culvert. We need to let the city know this is NOT ok, and just plain lazy not to find a better solution.

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  • Barney March 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Oaks Bottom is a pretty amazing resource and parts of it are being completely overrun by invasive plants. In other words, it really needs some work. With the exception of the one paved trail connecting Springwater to Milwaukie Ave, there is no adequate way to move any serious equipment into Oaks Bottom. The Springwater Trail is really the only thing that makes sense for a project like this. I understand why everyone is upset, and BES should provide a serious alternative route. Still, we need to accept some compromises in our biking infrastructure if we expect the city to be more diverse than just pavement.

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  • kitten March 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    seems pretty simple to me, construct a parallel paved bypass and divert users to that trail when equipment needs the other. path could be different in nature, more meandering, and would continue to serve users after project completion as a nice alternative when bike traffic and joggers fill the main path. walkers and slow folk might prefer not being run over and i might prefer not running over them.

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  • BURR March 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    They could also bring equipment in from the river side on a barge and bore the culvert under the trail from the west without closing the trail.

    Really, there are multiple solutions that don’t require closing the trail, the city is either being lazy or cheap or both here.

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  • RyNO Dan March 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Also “Next summer” I think means Summer 2011. So “this summer” will still be open (it is currently 2010).

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  • cyclist March 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Kitten: Do you use this section of the trial at all? If so, where would you put the parallel trail? On one side of the trail there’s a steep drop and a wooded section, on the other side is the railroad tracks.

    Suggestion for an alternate route:

    From Sellwood take SE 17th to SE Mall, SE Mall to SE 9th, SE 9th to Division, SE Division under 99e and hook up with the waterfront trail.

    Traffic on SE 17th can be a little heavy south of Tacoma, but otherwise it’s just fine. Better than Milwaukie IMO.

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  • kitten March 30, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    No, i have never used the trail, I live in North Carolina. Never even been to Oregon.

    Here is a suggestion.

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  • KWW March 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Really no consideration to the hundreds of bicycle travelers and the increased risk of riding on the street as a detour.

    AFAIK, there plan is ‘closed’, tough luck…

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  • cyclist March 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Kitten: I can tell you’re not from around here. There’s no way anybody’s going to allow you to pave over existing parkland for a temporary detour. It’s a wildlife refuge, sending a ten foot wide, mile-long section of blacktop through the middle of it is a total non-starter.

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  • Paul Johnson March 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Why not temporary lane closures and employing some flaggers, as would happen if motorists were affected?

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  • Paul Johnson March 30, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    @kitten: It’s not a MUP when it’s primary purpose is bicycle travel. Look at the marked lanes!

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  • jim March 30, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Sorry Paul- It is MUP

    The Springwater Corridor is a multi-use trail. The paved surface is 10-12 feet wide with soft shoulders. The hard surface trail is designed to accommodate walkers, joggers, hikers, bicycles, wheelchairs, and strollers. Equestrian use is more common east of I-205 where a separate soft surface path meanders away from the main trail where topography allows.

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  • Barney March 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    @#15 There is essentially no room for a parallel trail without heavily compromising the wildlife refuge. If there was, the best place to put the equipment to build such a trail would be on the existing trail, causing the exact closures that everyone is trying to avoid.

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  • Paul Johnson March 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    sorry, jim: Just because it’s open to other uses doesn’t mean that it’s not primarily built and set up for cyclists. Especially when we’re talking about Springwater on the Willamette, not out in Gresham where asshole equestrians fail to pooper-scoop. I hope I spot one of ’em one of these days so I can file a citizen citation: That’s just plain rude and unsanitary to dump that much shit in the middle of the road and not pick it up.

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  • Ethan March 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I use that path mainly for recreation, but many commute on it. If it was a road they’s go to great lengths to keep it open for cars/trucks. 4 months!?

    It would have been much easier to build the new bridges by OMSI had they just closed the roads. The disparity in basic accommodation is alive and well. I bet the equipment could come in at night, and be situated off trail, some kind of over/underpass could be installed too . . . it always costs more to do projects while traffic still must flow . . . but it is usually done anyways . . . for cars.

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  • q`Tzal March 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I really hate to be anti-green and anti wildlife but in this situation the wetland can wait until they find a safe and equitable way to accommodate bicycle traffic.
    They can’t shut down a highway without providing suitable detours for auto traffic; it would look like critical mass every day if all that bike traffic dumps on to the shortest routes without some sort of lane closure on those roads.
    Besides, short of Superfund cleanup sites natural areas seem to fair better when humans leave them alone entirely.

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  • Anonymous March 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    So does anybody have a constructive suggestion?

    It’s not my hood, so I don’t have one… but if my primary route was cut off tomorrow I have 2-3 other routes I could take to get to work.

    Y’all are whining.

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  • Aaronf March 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Anybody know a good detour route?

    I don’t know that area, but I can tell you 4 different ways to get from my house to my work. It shouldn’t be that hard.

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  • anonymous March 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Up to 4 months? Unbelievable… The BTA should be all over this.

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  • Paul Johnson March 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Aaronf: No detour=go through anyway?

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  • cyclist March 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Anonymous #29, Aaronf #30: I posted a suggested route from Sellwood earlier in the comments.

    Suggestion for an alternate route:

    From Sellwood take SE 17th to SE Mall, SE Mall to SE 9th, SE 9th to Division, SE Division under 99e and hook up with the waterfront trail.

    Traffic on SE 17th can be a little heavy south of Tacoma, but otherwise it’s just fine. Better than Milwaukie IMO.

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  • BURR March 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    and I posted two potential alternatives for construction access

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  • q`Tzal March 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Suggested route, from north to south:
    >SE Division to SE 9th and SE 9th to SE Powell: light industrial and light commercial. Plagued by large trucks with poor sight lines and business that use the road as part of their work space.
    >Crossing SE Powell on SE 9th: NOT ALLOWED. Neither north nor south; right turn only. You could cross on the pedestrian bridge.
    >SE 9th from SE Powell to SE Mall – SE Mall to SE Milwaukie and further to SE 17th: residential and looks for a quite relaxing ride. Will there be a crossing problem at SE Milwaukie without traffic lights?
    >SE 17th to SE McLoughlin: more light industrial and light commercial; traffic on Google street view is rather heavy in this stretch.
    > SE 17th from SE McLoughlin to SE Nehalem and SE Milwaukie: more residential.

    None of these has a bike lane or any obvious treatments for the safety, or encouraging automotive caution in the presence of, cyclists.

    This will occur during the height of the cycling season and, most importantly, during the time when inexperienced people are most likely to start commuting by bike. MUPs like the Springwater help new cyclists learn the skills and perseverance needed for a long term commitment to cycling without the added fear of having to learn how to avoid a squishy automotive death.

    My wacky suggestion: install a temporary non-paved detour, on the west/river side of the trail, from the northern terminus of SE Oaks Park Way to just short of the culvert crossing. Nothing on the BES page outright states that the trail we be removed at the crossing but it seems like that would be the most expedient method of construction. If it is not – a small packed gravel trail on the triangular section through the wooded area that already seems to be in use as a storage area for derelict boat trailers would work and there already seem to be some paths carved in the wooded area. This would also require that BES instruct the construction crews not to block the connecting area over the culvert; they might need access but they don’t need to use that section as a parking lot. It also would require that BES get some permission from the Oregon Yacht Club to temporarily use that plot for bike traffic. These two compromises are likely to cause less public strife than hundreds of cyclists dumping on to neighborhood streets or the crazy vehicular cyclists, like myself, who will likely take to SE Milwaukie and SE McLoughlin simply because it is the shortest route from point A to B.

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  • Eric March 30, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Insane! As other posters have pointed out, this portion of the trail is as much a “bike highway” as you will find anywhere. The idea that closing this part of the trail for even four DAYS seems to bring home the point that cyclists and other multi-use trail users are not worthy of a little foresight and planning.

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  • Seth Alford March 31, 2010 at 12:13 am

    I live on the west side and I only ride on the Springwater maybe twice a year. But, I see this sort of thinking over here, too, with the Fanno Creek trail. This is one more reason why grade separated bicycle paths are a bad deal for bicycles, and why the BTA’s advocacy for these facilities is mistaken. Also, that the BES would even go public with this plan is an indicator that the BTA is not effective.

    There will never be sufficient funds to create a grade separated bicycle trail system, complete with overpasses. The concerned-but-scared demographic that the BTA is so worried about will therefore have to do some of its riding on streets with cars. That demographic will therefore never feel completely safe.

    Even if there was sufficient money to create that grade separated system, that system would still be viewed as a recreational facility and be subject to these sort of closures. It’s obvious that’s what the BES is thinking in this case. That is, I imagine the BES thinking is along the lines of: “The Springwater is just a recreational trail. So closing the Springwater for up to four months while we work in the adjacent park is therefore no big deal. People can just recreate elsewhere.” I don’t think that the BES views the Springwater as an important link in a bicycle transportation network.

    Again, I’ve seen similar thinking on the west side, with the Fanno Creek trail. There, they (no, I don’t know which government agency it was) closed the trail so that they could install a sewer line from the Fanno Creek Pump station. After all, rather than the trail being an important link in a bicycle transportation network, and not subject to a complete closure, the trail was instead viewed as a place where people walk their dogs or go for a jog. People can recreate elsewhere while the trail is closed.

    How much the BTA can reduce or eliminate BES’s planned closure of up to four months is an indicator of how well the BTA can advocate for its vision of grade separated bicycle facilities. Can the BTA get the Springwater closure reduced from four months to, say, something like many multiple four minute closures, or maybe forty minute closures, or even four hour or four day closures?

    I’m not holding my breath while I wait for the BTA to do something effective about this. Since the BTA already gets a lot of their income from government contracts, I don’t expect the BTA to rock the boat and challenge the BES’s plans. If one government agency is providing the BTA’s budget and the staff’s salary, the BTA probably won’t think about challenging that government agency, or any other government agency. The operating principle here is “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” The BES knows this, too. Otherwise the BES would not announce an up to 4 month closure.

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  • Mike March 31, 2010 at 6:49 am

    It’s too bad it’ll be closed during prime cycling season, but that does make sense since it’s also prime construction season. Hopefully the upgrades will be worth it. Oaks Bottom is a beautiful area and I’m all for improving it.

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  • matt picio March 31, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    KWW (#1) – Probably Milwaukie Ave, plus some neighborhood streets, or SE 17th Avenue, which is pretty low-traffic south of McLoughlin, despite being a Tri-Met route for the #70.

    RyNO Dan (#6) – Given that it’ll be the summer months, we’re talking tens of thousands of trips interrupted, thousands of lost trips, and a lot of inconvenience to pedestrians, especially runners/joggers who will lose their favorite route.

    BURR (#4) – amplifying on what Sigma (#10) said, that railroad is owned by Dick Samuels, who runs maybe a 1-6 trains a week on it depending on business. Samuels has a low number of customers, and a 3 month interruption in business for the railroad would likely put it out of business. Samuels has been very cooperative in working with the city to allow this trail to be installed in the first place, so accommodating the railroad is being neighborly, among other things. If the trackage was owned by Union Pacific instead of a local company, I’d agree with you.

    kitten (#13) – lazy how? There’s nowhere else down there that’s a suitable alternate, while there are a couple of decent alternatives on surface streets. Sure, it sucks, but this isn’t like I-5, which has plenty of alternatives in parallel – it’s like Hwy 26 out to the coast, where the road is constrained by topography, and anything which affects the road is going to close it completely.

    and (#15) – not so simple, you’d need an Environmental Impact Statement, because you’re proposing building another paved path in a wildlife reserve.

    BURR (#16) – Look at the map, most of the work is east of the path. You’d still need to close it to move equipment. I think the best alternative is incentives for the contractor to finish the work early, and penalties for finishing late.

    Paul Johnson (#26) – Sorry, Paul – it *is* a multi-use path, designated as such when it was designed, and when it opened, and signed that bikes must yield to pedestrians. The “Lanes” are only painted in the constrained areas to help prevent collisions.

    anonymous (#31) – call the BTA. They have a new advocacy guy, and they need to hear from the membership and the public to know where to apply their influence. (503) 226-0676

    q’Tzal (#35) – Sorry to burst your bubble, but hundreds of routes in the city are perfectly safe with no treatments whatsoever. I do agree that this is somewhat less than ideal for new/inexperienced riders, but there are no other options that adequately limit liability for the city and the contractor during the course of the project.

    Eric (#36) – Five years ago, this route didn’t even exist, and everyone got along just fine. This will not be the end of the world. And for those worried about how long it’ll take – they’re constrained by the “Fish window”, so federal regs say they have a hard deadline to get all the equipment out, with big fines to back it up.

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  • BURR March 31, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    not quite sure why are you defending BES here Matt? There certainly are plenty of options that might increase the cost of this project somewhat, but would continue to allow bike traffic on the MUP.

    This is now a key bike route in Portland, and, like many have pointed out, this type of inconvenience would never be acceptable if it was a motorway.

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  • Paul Johnson March 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    @Matt: I think it’s a perfectly reasonable use of taxpayer (I am one) money to lease the SamTrak Right Of Way for an amount equivalent to what SamTrak would usually expect to take in over that period in order to keep the Springwater on the Willamette Cycleway open. City of Portland, are you listening? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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  • q'Ztal April 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    How about proper detour signage for each turn of the preferred detour listed above?
    Make them like PBOT’s bike signs but color them construction orange.
    Wouldn’t hurt for the communities that this rerout heads through to get a heads up from their local community organization.

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  • Paul Johnson April 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Better yet, someone could consult the MUTCD and use actual bicycle detour signs.

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  • Hal White March 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Last year in traveling west from the Gresham area:I encountered numerous detours anclosure and confusing reroutes along the west end portion around 50th ave and points west on the trail .Now another closure.

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