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Parks Bureau watching, waiting to re-open Esplanade – Updated

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

The Esplanade has been closed for
14 days due to high water.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland Parks & Recreation officials say they continue to monitor the water levels on the Willamette River and that a re-opening of the Eastbank Esplanade could come by the end of this week.

The floating portion of the Esplanade path (south of the Steel Bridge) has been closed since May 31st when PP&R decided to close it due to the highest water level the structure has seen in its 10 year history. Last week, Parks estimated that the river would reach 16 feet — which would allow them to re-open the path — by tomorrow.

Parks spokesman Mark Ross now says a re-opening tomorrow is “doubtful” and that the earliest it will re-open is most likely Thursday.

Graph from NOAA as of 2:45 today (6/14).

Data kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association shows that Willamette River levels are trending downward, but aren’t expected to be well under 16 feet until the end of this week.

“The engineers also say they want to give a few inches of pad around that 16-foot target level,” Ross told me via email, “so that any more rain doesn’t cause the walkway to be re-closed after it re-opens.”

We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Since someone mentioned detour signage in a comment below, I thought I’d share a response from Mark Ross when I asked him about it:

“As you know, signs indicating the temporary closure are of course in place. Walkers, runners and cyclists may cross over to the west side of the river via the Morrison Bridge, the Steel Bridge, AND the Burnside Bridge, providing cyclists can carry their bikes up a long set of stairs to the top of the Burnside Bridge (and there’s a trough on the side of the stairs for bike tires to be guided up the Burnside Bridge.) They may also head east into the city; but I think what you’re asking is if there are or will be signs along city streets showing bicyclists alternate routes during this time.

The Esplanade closure was made on short notice, in response to emergency conditions, rather than a pre-planned construction project. There are not plans for bike signage detours for areas off of Parks & Recreation territory at this time. The reason is that PP&R does not have jurisdiction over the streets, or signage on them, so it would be up to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to address whether or not the higher than usual bike traffic on surrounding roads would merit temporary signage. We have in fact asked an engineer with PBOT about this issue; and they were open to considering a few signs ON the trail (not on the roads leading up to them) at 3 key spots, to give folks advance warning of the temporary trail closure ahead. However, depending on what our teams determine this week; the Esplanade may reopen by the time the signs are prepared; so more info on the river forecast will determine if there is a course of action in that regard.”