Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Lacking funds, City pauses on new South Waterfront path

Posted by on March 26th, 2012 at 11:50 am

A new path with separated space for biking and walking
was set to begin construction here this summer. But
a lack of funds has changed that plan.

The City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau announced this morning that a $2 million funding gap has put their plans for the South Waterfront Greenway project on hold. While the City has obtained all necessary permits and the final design of the trail was officially approved earlier this month, Parks has been unable to come up with the money.

The $8 million project — which will include significant environmental restoration and riverfront access improvements along with the paved biking and walkings paths — is funded by a variety of sources including TriMet, the Portland Development Commission, and private developers. The project is noteworthy because the path would be the City’s first that physically separated bikers from walkers — something that is seen as increasingly important as our local paths burst at the seams with users.

Can’t wait to see this built. Oh well… someday.
(Graphic: Portland Parks & Recreation)

“Unfortunately,” read a statement released today, “after several years of earnestly working to fill the almost $2.0 million funding gap, we have not been successful.”

Here’s more from the City’s website:

“All permits for the construction have been filed. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) intends to build the entire project. We are, however, at the point where we need to be realistic about the money we have in hand and what we can build during the current fiscal year. As you know, the cash on hand has always been less than the total cost of the project. For the past year, we have been working with potential funders to bridge that gap. In this economy, we were unfortunately not successful.”

With the pathway on hold, Parks will begin the environmental restoration work in July. No date has been given for the construction of the path. “We are hopeful to continue on to phase 2 next year if funds are available.”

— See the City’s official website for this project here.

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  • Allan March 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

    At some point, the city will have enough plans on the books to fill 10 years of future budget. Will we then pause the planning and just advocate for the order of construction?

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  • Dillon March 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    This was a waste of money anyways.

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  • SilkySlim March 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    1. There is already is a path down there
    2. It isn’t even close to “bursting the seams”
    3. The path is a pretty awkward detour for anyone coming from town on the awesome new mixed path along Moody, trying to connect to the bike path due south.
    4. There already is a path down there!

    I love improvements to our public waterfront areas, but this is one I don’t mind moving to the back burner.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      thanks for the comment SilkySlim,

      Please note: My “bursting at the seams” comment was aimed at our other paths, not this one.

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  • Zach March 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve never ridden down there, and I’d love to see an update to this post with more information about the current facilities.

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  • Patty March 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This project is phase one in an effort to build a continuous waterfront path through the South Waterfront District from the Ross Island Bridge to the Old Sphaghetti Factory. SilkySlim is right, there is a path in this location at this time. The Portland Parks project is really an effort to a) build a beautiful riverfront park and b) build the first paths with separated modes. For now it will make little difference to cyclists whether this park is built or not, as this is a disconnected fragment of a larger effort.

    What’s sad is the river bank restoration project. Due to the idiocy of a certain regulator the bank will be a sorry example of bank restoration, with an outcome that theoretically benefits salmonids at the expense of the rest of the community.

    In the meantime, the riverfront park will have a very slow buildout, as Zidell Marine is still building barges north of this segment and has no intention of stopping any time soon. Have you ever seen a barge launch? Very exciting! Just south of the current PPR project another phase of the District is underway including plans for a riverfront park. I am no longer involved and do not know the timeframe.

    Hope this is helpful.

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    • maxadders March 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      I was really looking forward to that spaghetti.

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    • Chris I March 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Zidell and Benz Spring to the south.

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  • Patty March 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    PS Certainly when the whole system is connected this, too, will burst at the seams. The separated paths will be a huge benefit.

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  • Indy March 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    “The project is noteworthy because the path would be the City’s first that physically separated bikers from walkers — something that is seen as increasingly important as our local paths burst at the seams with users.”

    This is an odd statement. There are many dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks all over the city. Even in that picture there will be many instances of peds just walking over that grass “boundary” to get to the park beyond the bike lane, or walkers that are “lazy” just using the dedicated bike lane instead.

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    • Kristen March 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

      I think Maus is saying that it’s the first MULTI-USER PATH that would have separated facilities for bikes and peds.

      Sidewalks are sidewalks, not paths. Similarly, bike lanes are lanes of travel, not paths.

      But yeah, I see your point about people not staying on the pathway designated for their mode of travel– kind of like how runners like to run in the bike lane even though there’s a perfectly good sidewalk right next to them.

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      • ED March 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        I know this has come up before on this blog, but sidewalks aren’t “perfectly good” for running. Runners like streets for the same reason that bikers like streets: they’re smoother, not as bumpy, no curbs to deal with, and no pedestrians to negotiate. Plus there’s a belief that asphalt is softer on your joints over the course of many miles than concrete.

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  • Ben Guernsey March 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    This seems nice, but for getting somewhere looks like a band-aid for one section, granted it could be a nice park to just hang out at. That whole stretch from the end of the water front park to the Sellwood needs a better cohesive vision. Especially once the new Sellwood with a bike lane starts adding bike and pedestrian traffic.

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  • dwainedibbly March 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    It looks like a worthy project, someday. Right now there are probably a lot of other projects that will benefit more people, sooner. What percentage were the developers going to contribute? This will be something that will benefit the developers (and the people they sell to) more than anyone else, so why not ask them to contribute a greater amount?

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  • jeff March 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    shouldn’t paths actually, you know, go somewhere?
    If south waterfront was continually growing (it isn’t) and the south waterfront development was willing to incorporate a trail from the Marina to the Ross Island (it isn’t), I could see the point. This is a trail without a point.

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    • Justin March 27, 2012 at 9:45 am

      Hi, Jeff. I know you’re just venting, but you’re misinformed. The South Waterfront is continually growing. In fact, it’s continuously growing. Construction has never stopped. The plans call for the trail segments to connect, but that can’t happen instantly. If you don’t build out the individual segments when the opportunity arises, then you can’t ever connect them.

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson March 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    as a owners of a bicycle repair shop down in South Waterfront I am pretty disappointed that the city is pausing this project. South Waterfront is generally the butt of a lot of jokes from people that have never spent much time there but it is actually a pretty interesting place with a lot of people living there.

    As someone who advocates for more planning in the way cities grow South Waterfront is the place in Portland where that has most been put into practice. Instead of rooting for South Waterfront to be a failure I think those who support urban planning anywhere should be doing all they can to prove that planning works.

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  • Unit March 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    According to the project website, the cost is $9.5 million. This is for one-quarter mile of path. I’m all for quality facilities, but $38 million per mile of trail is an awful lot (8-10x what they usually cost). Anyone know why?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      There is major environmental restoration work being done as part of this project. It’s much more than just a strip of pavement.

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  • Patty March 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    dwainedibbly – this project only marginally helps developers, as the nearby condos are already occupied and the residents don’t want the public on “their”waterfront. It will actually benefit the public enormously.
    Unit – the biggest cost is the riverbank work, not the trail. That work is proceeding, so it is not in question. It involves rebuilding the riverbank, so it is a substantial investment.

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  • kittens March 27, 2012 at 2:51 am

    What? The goose which laid the golden egg stopped laying? This south waterfront area is a total joke, makes the city look frivolous and foolhardy. They have enough treats down there already: Tram, Streetcar, park, fancy street lighting, parks, new streets, what more do these developers possibly need? Surely a 8 mill MUP is not going to suddenly make this area vibrant. Screw em.

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  • Paul Johnson March 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

    So, let me see if I got this right:

    Novelty aerial tramway thought up in a matter of hours serving OHSU by itself: Important connector that we can’t live without, no matter how half-baked.

    Bicycle arterial 40 years in the making, and Portland’s first with a proper sidewalk: Meh.

    Special interests ahead of the greater good: This is why Portland can’t have nice things.

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    • davemess March 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      I don’t know if I classify the largest employer in the city of Portland, the only medical school in all of Oregon, and the only major research facility in Oregon as a “special interest”

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      • Paul Johnson March 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

        They could have much more economically (not to mention, not on PBOT’s dime) run a shuttle bus. Intel runs an entire transit system on their own dime. Heck, Providence runs their own transit connections, too. Top it off with the fact the manufacturer doesn’t intend that design to be used in more than tourist trams running infrequently and not something that runs more or less constantly anytime someone steps onto it, and it’s already running into maintenance issues that shouldn’t have been coming up until years down the road.

        Portland got the shaft on that deal, big time on the tram. Don’t even get me started about the costs associated with maintaining such a large campus on such steep, unstable hillside on top of a fault line, or the wisdom in the south waterfront development on top of a different fault line…

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  • Joe March 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    This post is a bit misleading.. This is more of a habitat restoration project than ANYTHING else, let alone a little bike path and sidewalk. The City has an obligation to construct the habitat restoration as some of the funding partners need it to comply with environmental regulations for their own projects. Obviously, the City acknowledged that the path improvements are the least important part of the project, as previous comments on this page have noted. There’s already a path there and given it’s lack of connectivity, it’s very low on the totem pole.

    This seems to be a non-issue.

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  • Steve B March 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I’m anxiously awaiting the “CRC Delayed Indefinitely Due to Lack of Funds” headline.

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  • jim April 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    With water rates going up, 12,9% in 2011 and projecting 85% in the next few years I think they would have bucket loads of money to spend on all sorts of projects not related to water

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    • Paul Johnson April 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Amazing how people keep repeating this lie over and over…bioswales take the load off street drainage, your water money wasn’t spent on bicycle facilities.

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