Portion of Willamette Greenway Trail closes; erosion suspected

Willamette Greenway Trail closure-5
Gates around damaged trail prevent
through bike traffic.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A portion of the Willamette Greenway Trail north of the Steel Bridge is closed to biking and walking due to an erosion problem that is causing the paved trail to crack and sink into the river. A handwritten, “Sidewalk closed – Use Naito” sign has been posted on a locked gate just north of the railroad tracks at the southern end of the closure.

According to Portland Parks spokesperson Beth Sorensen, that segment of trail is maintained by the McCormick Pier Condominium homeowners association, which took over maintenance responsibilities from the City of Portland in 2002.

The homeowners association is managed by Portland-based Community Management Incorporated. Lisa Campbell with CMI said via telephone yesterday that the problem “Is a major issue, not just a regular repair.” Campbell says engineers are currently looking into the situation and are assessing what needs to be done. She believes the cracking was caused by a combination of things. “We had a lot of rain this year and a high river. There also could have been a lot of drainage that moved the earth.”

Gate locked on Willamette Greenway Trail. Sign says, “Sidewalk closed, use Naito.”
View of trail north of locked gate and south of construction.

Campbell says at this point she has no idea how long the trail will be closed. She plans to meet with the board of the McCormick Pier homeowners association on Monday and will be able to provide an update at that time.

I wondered whether our heavy rainfall might mean we’ll be seeing more of these types of problems with paved riverside trails. Back in February, Portland Parks and Recreation closed a portion of the Eastbank Esplanade when it began cracking and sinking.

Parks’ Sorensen says they don’t feel a trend is afoot, but that if movement of soils under paved trails does occur, the responsibility to repair it falls on the adjacent property owner. “It is a big river and most of the ‘soils’ along the banks are fill material, so it should be expected that managing movement and erosion of the banks to protect adjacent structures is part of the adjacent property owner’s responsibility.”

Thanks to the readers who informed me of this closure. I’ll update everyone once I hear more from CMI.

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