More criticism leveled at proposed Greenway Trail route

“N. Greeley as an alternative to the Cement Road is unacceptable. The trail is to be a Willamette River Greenway Trail, not a tour of a truck route.”
— NPGreenway statement

The alignment for the North Portland Greenway Trail project being proposed by the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau is continuing to draw sharp criticism from activists and advocacy groups.

PP&R is hosting an online comment form to get feedback, and — as the comments to our story yesterday make clear — many people are not impressed that several segments of the proposed alignment use heavily trafficked streets and conventional bike lanes. The idea of a “trail” — or what I prefer to call a path — is that people can expect a dedicated, non-motorized facility away form the dangers and stresses of automobiles.

The North Portland Greenway Trail has been envisioned since the beginning as an extension of the Eastbank Esplanade — which is a dedicated, carfree path its entire length. But the alignment being proposed would put users on several streets — N. Basin, Going, Greeley, Interstate, and so on. There are options available (and even a much more carfree, riverfront route already adopted in the City’s North Reach River Plan); but PP&R currently lists “right of way acquisition” as a barrier to taking it.

This compromise has raised serious concerns from NPGreenway, the non-profit group that has championed this project for years. Yesterday, that group’s director, Jason Starman, sent an email to members, saying, “… we have concerns that south of Waud Bluff [just south of University of Portland] PP&R loses the vision of a trail along the Willamette River.” Starman is urging members to make the following comments:

– The Cement Road south of Swan Island is the preferred route. This route was selected following the North Reach of the River Plan’s years of public involvement.

– N. Greeley as an alternative to the Cement Road is unacceptable. The trail is to be a Willamette River Greenway Trail, not a tour of a truck route on N Greeley.

– A trail east of the Rose Quarter as shown on the PP&R maps is totally unacceptable. Both the Near Term Alignment and the Preferred Alignment must be closer to the Willamette River. The maps miss the opportunity of the former Thunderbird Motel site and a connection to the Steel Bridge and the Eastbank Esplanade.

Also yesterday, veteran activist and head of the Swan Island Business Association Lenny Anderson left a comment here on BikePortland saying, “A document that represents the will of the people of this city should ask for (demand? well Portland doesn’t do that!) an alignment that makes for a world class riverside greenway trail. It may take a long time to get it, but if you do not ask for it, you will never get it.”

The online comment form is open until September 26th. The next meeting of the PP&R project advisory committee is October 3rd at 6:30pm in the Chiles Center at the University of Portland.

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