closure — shows how high water has impacted
the floating portion of the Esplanade.
(Photo © J. Maus)
The floating portion of the Eastbank Esplanade closed due to high water on the Willamette River eight days ago (May 31st). According to an update from Portland Parks & Recreation, since river levels look to remain high “for the foreseeable future” it will, “likely be close to a week” before they will reopen the Esplanade.
PP&R spokesman Mark Ross told us this morning that floating portion of the Esplanade between the Steel and Burnside bridges will remain closed until the river reaches the 16 foot mark. According to data from the National Weather Service, the Willamette River hasn’t been at 16 feet since May 28th. At 8:30 am today, the level was measured at 16.62 feet:e
And here’s the actual chart PP&R is using to make their decision:
[You can track the daily level of the Willamette on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.]
According to NOAA, the Willamette will remain between 16.5 and 17 feet “for about the next three days. After that, the river is expected to “slowly decline.” NOAA expects the river to be between 16 and 16.5 feet “into mid-June.”
Beyond the heavy rainfall we got this year and lots of melting snow, NOAA says the main reason the Willamette is so high is because of high water on the Columbia, which is expected to remain high for 2-3 weeks. Here’s more from NOAA:
“The high levels on the Columbia are what is backing up into the lower Willamette, keeping the Willamette high from below the Oregon City Falls downstream to the confluence with the Columbia.”
If you’re wondering why PP&R decided to close the floating section, Ross described the situation like this:
“If you have been over the walkway, you know its a fixed, permanent sidewalk that connects to a floating bridge over the water. When the water rises, the floating portion is the only part to rise, obviously, creating a phenomenon similar to if you had your arm stuck in an elevator shaft when the elevator started going up. Your arm will quickly increase its angle. That is the nature of what has happened to the connecting hardware between the bridge and sidewalk.”
Hopefully the detours around the Esplanade aren’t that painful. (PP&R says the detour is to cross over to the west side of the river via the Morrison Bridge, the Steel Bridge, and the Burnside Bridge.)
This is the first time in the Esplanade’s 10 year history that it has been closed due to high water and the highest the river has been since 1996.
How has the closure impacted you?
We’ll have updates as they become available. Follow us on Twitter for the latest.
UPDATE, 10:09 am: Mark Ross just got an update on the river levels from NOAA. He says the predicted opening date is June 15th. See graphic below: