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Metro land purchase, agreement will close part of ‘Sellwood Gap’

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010 at 10:47 am

Map credit: Metro

Metro finalized an agreement yesterday that will allow them to secure the required easement rights to extend the Springwater Corridor Trail. The agreement will close more than half of the existing “Sellwood Gap” south of SE Tacoma Street.

According to a Metro press release, they reached an agreement with Oregon Pacific Railroad Company for $618,000. The agreement also included the sale of a 5,000 square foot property to Oregon Pacific in the Sellwood area.

The Sellwood Gap is a thorn in the side of many people in the Portland area. When the trail reaches Sellwood, the popular multi-use path snakes through residential streets for about a mile until the trail picks up again.

With the agreement this week, Metro will build more than a half-mile of trail alongside the train tracks, extending the trail between SE Umatilla and SE 13th Ave. Metro will work with the City of Portland to design and build the new piece of trail. Once the entire gap is closed, people will be able to ride 20 miles from central Portland to Boring without having to travel on surface streets.

Funding for this easement purchase came from Metro’s Natural Areas Bond Measure which was passed by voters in 2006.

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

  • Stig September 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Awesome news! Thanks Jonathan. Any idea when it will be built?

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  • Tourbiker September 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Now If they can just finish the area around 128th…

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  • cyclist September 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Folks who have ridden the trail recently have probably noticed that the work has already started. The tracks got moved a bit so that the city could do sewer work that I think is connected to the Big Pipe project. Recently the city has prepped the land next to the trail, making it totally flat and putting up the little barriers that prevent a car from turning onto the trail. At this point it looks like all that needs to happen is for them to lay down blacktop and put up the chain link fence.

    I’m not sure I would characterize the gap as a “thorn in the side” of cyclists. You take Umatilla to 19th and then hop on the bridge (or vice versa). Both are quiet streets and easy to ride. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re closing the gap, but the neighborhood streets are kind of nice. They’re certainly not a thorn in my side.

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  • G. Tyler September 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Now the only part of my commute that I don’t ride on the Springwater will be where it crosses 122nd to Holgate! If they could put a buffered bike lane in on that street I will be in bicycle commuting heaven! 97% of my commute can be done on the Springwater, the rest on the Holgate Bike lanes.

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  • rupert_pupkin September 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

    @cyclist Umatilla is quiet but a couple of the streets you have to cross (13th and 17th, I think) are not. I’ve had a couple of close encounters there this summer, so I’m pleased to hear the gap is getting filled.

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  • cyc September 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Great to hear the Gap is getting smaller. It’s been a total thorn since the early days when there was no signage to direct you over the Tacoma overpass. Out of the ‘hood and on to the trail!

    I wonder if the neighborhood businesses will notice a loss of bike traffic related business?

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  • h September 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    @cyclist… I wondered about that section… it is kinda comfortable to ride on unpaved section between Umatilla and Linn/12th. Thank for the info.

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  • q`Tzal September 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm


    Could we swing a MUP overpass for the unpurchased segment from SE 13th to SE 19th and SE Ochoco st?
    The Springwater bike traffic at SE Ochoco St and SE 17th st will be prodigious and probably uncontrolled.
    It will be cheaper in the long run, from the standpoint of injuries, deaths and traffic delays, to pay for a bridge upfront.
    Or put a traffic light here with dedicated signal loops tuned for bicycles and a manual activation button, like the crosswalk signal buttons.

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  • BURR September 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    @3$, you will still have to cross 13th and 17th regardless of whether you are on the road or the trail, and traffic isn’t that heavy on either of these streets that it should even be an issue.

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  • BURR September 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    @3$ = @#4

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  • cyclist September 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    rupert_pupkin #4: I disagree with the assertion that 13th is a busy street. I cross it every day and rarely have to wait more than 10 seconds for cars to pass. The intersection at 17th and Umatilla definitely is busier, but there’s also a pedestrian signal that you can use to get across if traffic gets heavy. As BURR #8 mentioned, you still have to cross those streets even if the gap gets all the way filled in, so other than putting in a light (similar to what already exists at 17th) I don’t see how you expect that problem to get solved by filling in the gap.

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  • BicycleDave September 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    The traffic on 13th is bad during rush hour. It also gets lighter as you move South. Crossing South of Linn St. will be much easier once the gap is filled since much of the car traffic turns on Linn to get to 17th.

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  • Matt September 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    q`Tzal- ditto to what you said. Hopefully a creative solution (a traffic light) for crossing 17th will be installed at the 17th and Ochoco crossing.

    Once the Gap is filled, maybe Portland and Milwaukie can get together to make improvements on 17th to the south of Ochoco going into Milwaukie so that a better connection to the Trolley Trail and Oregon City can be made.

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  • Bob_M September 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    13th at the rail/trail location has almost no traffic. It is at the “gate” of the garthwick neighborhood.

    I will bet a case of mirror pond that 17th gets signalization like the crossing at 82nd.

    Oh, it has never been a thorn in my side.

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  • Mike Quigley September 23, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Okay, now how about a bike/pedestrian bridge at Sellwood? Eugene has no problem building bike bridges and it’s flat broke!

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  • brian mack September 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

    It sure would be nice if the RR company donated the land to save a cash-strapped local government agency some money. I am not an expert on this topic, but didn’t the US government pretty much give a lot of land away to RR companies back in the 1800s and early 1900s? It would be great if they could give back to the community once in a while.

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  • Matt September 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

    How long until the ribbon cutting ceremony?

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  • Colin September 24, 2010 at 9:14 am

    What 5000 sq. ft. piece of property is part of the deal? Is the the property that Mr. Samuels has wanted to build the railroad museum next to Oaks Park?

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  • CaptainKarma September 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Oh, you wondrous Springwater trail-
    Though at times you seem a mess;
    Your path is like a jet’s contrail;
    Do we love you? Yes, yes, yes!

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  • matt picio September 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    brian mack (#16) – The Oregon Pacific Railroad is owned by Dick Samuels, a local businessman. He purchased the track and facilities from Southern Pacific because, at the time, their service sucked, and Samuels decided he could serve the customers on that spur line better than SP could. As a short line railroad, OPRR has very little money, and high maintenance costs. Many of these right-of-way deals are done to pay for repairs to track that would be required to keep the line in service. Saving a cash-strapped agency some money would likely put the railroad out of business and leave its customers scrambling to acquire a new freight carrier.

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