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City moves forward with planning for Sullivan’s Gulch Trail

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Parks Bureau map of proposed alignment for the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail.

Imagine a non-motorized transportation facility similar to the Springwater Corridor Trail that would extend the Eastbank Esplanade via a rail-trail along I-84 all the way east to the I-205 path and the Gateway Regional Center. That’s the vision for the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail and yesterday the project took an important step toward becoming a reality.

Looking west into the gulch. The yellow
lines are proposed trail alignments
from a 2004 study.
(Photo: Portland State University)

The City of Portland has issued an official notice looking for people to sit on a new Sullivan’s Gulch Trail Project Advisory Committee (PAC). According to a statement from the Parks Bureau, the new PAC will, “assist in the development of a concept plan for the future Sullivan’s Gulch Trail.” The PAC will work with a team of consultants to figure out the trail alignment, basic design features, a cost estimate, and more.

The Sullivan’s Gulch Trail has floated around local bike planning circles since it was listed in the 1996 Bicycle Master Plan as a “Priority 3” project to be completed in “10-20” years. Momentum for the trail has simmered since then due its complexity (lots of private landowners along the rail right-of-way) and cost (which the Bike Plan for 2030 lists as just over $27 million for the entire project).

In 2008, Portland Parks & Recreation won a $250,000 grant from Metro to conduct a feasibility study. This PAC is part of that study process.

Paul Manson, a member of the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail Committee, an ad-hoc group of volunteers pushing for the trail, sees the new PAC as “an essential step in developing the trail,” and adds that, “We are excited to see this moving ahead.”

Parks spokesperson Beth Sorensen says the PAC will spend the next year with City staff and consultants and the goal is to present a concept plan to City Council in January 2012. There will also be three community meetings where the public can learn more and offer input.

Manson hopes his group’s goals for the trail stay intact as the plan develops. They envision a world-class trail that “sets the standard” and where people can travel “without worrying about auto traffic.”

If you’re interested in serving on the advisory committee, download the application form on the Parks Bureau website.

— For further reading on the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail, download the 2004 study completed by Portland State University planning students.