State releases Salmonberry Corridor Draft Concept Plan, opens comment period

salmon-rail-to-trail-after

Coming (hopefully) sooner rather than later!

The Salmonberry Corridor project is moving ahead with as much steam as the Southern Pacific railroad cars that used to rumble through it in the early 1900s.

The project aims to re-open the derelict, 86-mile rail corridor to recreational use. When complete, it will connect the existing Banks-Vernonia rail-trail with the city of Tillamook on the Oregon Coast via a combination of paved and natural surface paths. Amazing huh?

You might recall our story back in June that teased a few of the potential design concepts being drawn up by project consultants. Now, as of last week, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has released the Salmonberry Corridor Draft Concept Plan (PDF, 44MB).

In that plan (which was funded by Cycle Oregon) are detailed before/after renderings that give us our best view yet of what it will be like to use the new paths once they’re built. We’ve pulled them out of the 125-page document for your convenience. Check them out:

salmon-rail-to-trail-b4

Rail-to-trail before (paved).
salmon-rail-to-trail-after

Rail-to-trail after (paved).
salmon-rail-to-trail-natural-b4

Rail-to-trail before (natural surface).
salmon-rail-to-trail-natural-after

Rail-to-trail after (natural surface).
salmon-reail-wit-trail-b4

Rail-with-trail before.
salmon-rail-with-trail-after

Rail-with-trail after.
salmon-rail-with-trail-coast-b4

Rail-with-trail before (on Highway 101).
salmon-rail-with-trail-coast-after

Rail-with-trail after (on Highway 101).

Looks pretty great huh?

If you’d like to tell OPRD what you think of this plan, please consider making a comment. You can either leave a comment on the official blog, or email State Trails Coordinator Rocky Houston at rocky.houston@oregon.gov. Another way to weigh in and learn more is to attend the Metro hearing when the plan will be presented on September 25th.

For more info, browse our past coverage or head over to the Salmonberry Corridor project blog.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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V$
V$
9 years ago

Pleasepleasepleasrpleaseplease…

Michael M.
9 years ago

Big Yellow Taxi 2014 edition: “They paved paradise, put in a bicycle lane.”

Mossby Pomegranate
Mossby Pomegranate
9 years ago
Reply to  Michael M.

Hopefully it won’t become a meth tweaker camp refuge.

dan
dan
9 years ago

Hah, I just thought exactly the same thing. 🙁

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago

get off my lawn!

Brian
Brian
9 years ago

Have you had issues with those suffering from addiction on the Banks/Vernonia trail?

Chris I
Chris I
9 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Only those with addictions to large pickup trucks.

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
9 years ago
Reply to  Michael M.

I wouldn’t call an overgrown clearcut with miles of steel rails left to rust on top of creosote soaked wood “paradise.”

Given how much higher rainfall in the coast range is compared to Portland a surface treatment seems like a good idea, and it will probably be easier to pave it once rather than keep gravel from washing away.

Jim Labbe
Jim Labbe
9 years ago
Reply to  Michael M.

The stormwater and human use impacts of trail development are an important issue. The Salmonberry is home to a relatively healthy population of Wild Steelhead and provides vital habitat for North Coast salmon populations. It would be tragic if this leads the Samonberry watershed to be loved to death.

But this may be a case where trail development and even some hardscaping actually can be a net environmental improvement if smart design can heal the open wounds of the existing degraded and eroding rail line. I hear and hope they are going to realign the trail away from the creek and do some active restoration where there have been repeated (or potential) washouts of the rail line.

And I think trail development along the Salmonberry can be a more environmentally friendly economic boom to Columbia and Tillamook Counties, more than most of the alternatives.

Still I hope that trail development sticks to a single alignment without side trails, meets the highest standards for environmental mitigation, and invests in restoration in order to ensure a net environmental improvement for the Salmonberry Watershed over the longterm.

Jim

Brian
Brian
9 years ago
Reply to  Jim Labbe

Side trails are a great idea that I hope they follow through on. That way people can use the pathway to get to a variety of different destinations along the way (camping, mountain bike trails, etc). Side trails can be done just as sustainably as the main pathway, and it would be a great way to bring in different organizations to the plan.

Jim Labbe
Jim Labbe
9 years ago
Reply to  Brian

That makes sense to an extent, for major connecting trails. But I think building extensive local recreation side trails that don’t actually connect to major through-corridors would dramatically raise the environmental footprint overtime and increase the human management impacts and costs, especially in the Salmonberry River segment.

Brian
Brian
9 years ago
Reply to  Jim Labbe

Agreed, Jim. The # of trails would need to be limited to important “destinations” along the way.

Juliet
Juliet
9 years ago

Oh can’t wait. Build it and they will come

Buzz
Buzz
9 years ago

Yes!

Buzz
Buzz
9 years ago

OMG!?!?!?!?!?!?

Buzz
Buzz
9 years ago

LOL!

Ben Fleskes
Ben Fleskes
9 years ago

How much of this trail is currently ‘accessible’? And by ‘accessible’ I mean able to explore by some combination of bushwacking, mountain biking, bike walking, scrambling, etc.

This is a great project and has the potential to be a signature rail-trail conversion for Oregon. I’d love to explore it early before it is improved and have a sense of before and after. It seems to me that significant portions could be made ‘ridable’ without too much effort. . .

Jon
Jon
9 years ago
Reply to  Ben Fleskes

I have been mountain biking in this area for almost 20 years. In many places the tracks are very overgrown. It would be slow going. There are also places close to the Salmonberry river west of Cochran where the tracks are completely washed out and impassible. In the slower flow times of year it would be pretty easy to cross the river but the rest of the year I would be wary. Roads cross the tracks in many places and there are some cool tunnels that I have been into on the bike.
Generally the area is very rugged with a lot of vertical getting to and from the tracks. Roads that show up on maps sometimes have been decommissioned or are completely overgrown so I would not trust anything I did not see personally. There are also old railroad beds in the area where all the ties and tracks have been removed. I have ridden sections where you can feel bumps where all the ties have been removed. They are typically short sections that had been used before there were roads.
It is a great place to explore gravel roads and the trails in the area are some of the best for mountain biking that the state has to offer (Wilson River trail, Gales Creek trail, Step Creek trail, Triple C, Story Burn, etc.).
My only worry about creating this trail along the old railway is that the railway was washed away twice in a decade. I can’t image that a bike/pedestrian route would do any better in a flood.
-Jon

Ron
Ron
9 years ago

Yes! Hurry it up!

LM
LM
9 years ago

This could be a substantial economic engine for not only the communities along the trail(s) but for the entire state of Oregon. We recently spent three weeks in New Zealand which were the direct result of my S.O. wanting to ride the Otago Rail Trail. The communities, tour companies, businesses, small lodging facilities and cafes in the Otago region do a wonderful job of group marketing so it is easy to do the trail in a variety of ways: economically or top shelf, one-way or roundtrip. I can easily see the Salmonberry being a huge tourism draw for Oregon.

notrail
notrail
9 years ago
Reply to  LM

B.S. people keep talking about the economic benefit to the surrounding area.As far as the west half of the trail I don’t see anypositive economic benefit. Actually I see the opposite. You can see many cara parked at the banks, Buxton, manning trailheads, but you don’t see to many bicycles in local business parking lots. It is many of our beliefs that you will get your gas, water, and food in Portland or Beaverton or wherever you come from. And then use the services that we pay for. Roads and emergency services. Putting more stress on our local economy. Also you will not only be disrupting the peace of the people who live there but the wildlife. You are talking about sending 200,000 people a year thru wildlife habitat and disrupting it all. It is ironic that so many people who ride bikes claim to be so environmentally friendly want to be so disruptive.

maccoinnich
9 years ago
Reply to  notrail

So, notrail, are you for or against this project?

Zimmerman
Zimmerman
9 years ago
Reply to  notrail

You might want to rethink your position on the economic impacts of bicycle tourism, notrail:

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/economic-impacts-of-mountain-biking-tourism-2014.html

NIMBY-villes can expect zero economic gain from trails that don’t exist but have a chance of at least some prosperity if they do.

Aaron
Aaron
9 years ago

I like bikes a lot, but I’m not into this. I wish it would revert back to a less developed space.

Terry D-M
Terry D-M
9 years ago

This will more than pay for itself in tourism dollars when built….and the pay off will come fast. It does need a hard surface though to be a year round facility.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
9 years ago

This will be fantastic. First, as a safe route to the coast; second, as a wonderful way to visit a wild part of the Coast Range without the noise and pollution of car traffic; and third, as a part of our movement towards becoming a serious bike touring destination.

If you’re not into it, don’t ride it.

Hagen Hammons
Hagen Hammons
9 years ago

What is the train frequency, and are they mostly excursion (visitor/passenger) trains along the rail-“with”-trail?

maccoinnich
9 years ago
Reply to  Hagen Hammons

The rail-with-trail segments all seems to be along (or near) the coast. This line is in active use by the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (http://www.oregoncoastscenic.org/). Looking at their timetable they seem to be operating a few excursion trains a day at the weekends. They might operate more frequently in the peak of the summer, but I don’t know. As the railroad no longer connected to the rest of the North American rail network, I don’t think there are any freight or scheduled passenger trains.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
9 years ago

How about leaving the rails…and just make it a rail bike facility…along with walking trail?

maccoinnich
9 years ago

My favorite part of the report is this section, which is exactly the kind of thing I would accidentally leave in a report. “Insert a concluding statement here. One suggestion is to have a letter from a Coalition member, or a series of quotes from the Coalition, members of the public, and elected officials.”

Suburban
Suburban
9 years ago

: skip the cyclo-cross race you were screwing up the courage to join for the first time and go ride part of it now before these changes happen. there are no showers, no (non riding ) family, no hand-ups, no photographs of you with mud on your face for your facebook.com page, no cell coverage and no ride home. You would be all alone with your bike, your companions, your rain gear, and your own thoughts. Afterwards, nobody back in town will understand this ride, care, or give you any respect for your bushwhacking… Then you can credibly be an advocate for it’s development.

Greg
Greg
9 years ago
Reply to  Suburban

Why do I need to meet the arbitrary standard to be credible?

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
9 years ago

I’m in Suburban, when do we leave?

tony
tony
8 years ago

So people that want to a trail to walk on and modify what nature has taken back and destroy one of the last remaining native fish runs in the state of oregon by having people bring up and leave there trash all over and destroy the wildlife habitat in this beautiful place. Doesn’t sound smart to me leave this river alone

Dan A
Dan A
8 years ago
Reply to  tony

How exactly does a bike path destroy a fish run?