Though it’s possible to get between central Gresham and the Springwater Corridor by bike lane, there’s never been a truly comfortable link between the two, or first-rate bike connection between Gresham’s central business district and the dense Rockwood area. That’s about to change.
Gresham is building a wide new paved path alongside the MAX tracks between the Cleveland Avenue station, at the eastern end of the Blue Line, and the Ruby Junction station where many TriMet trains stop their runs to go out of service.
When it opens sometime this year, it’ll be a million-dollar upgrade to the made path that’s run in the grass alongside the tracks for years.
Here’s a Metro map of the route, with the Springwater Corridor and Gresham-Fairview Trail marked in green:
David Daly, Gresham’s engineer on the project, said Tuesday that the route will be fully ready to ride by Oct. 17 at the latest. That’s the contracting firm’s deadline to finish everything, including new plantings.
Daly said the path might open sooner than that.
“The track belongs to our contractor until they’ve reached substantial completion,” he said. “We’ve had good weather this spring, so we’ve been able to keep out ahead of schedule so far.”
On Sunday, with construction halted for the moment, a friend and I headed west on the future path out of downtown Gresham. Though I wouldn’t recommend it as a transportation route with or without anyone at work, it was easy to see what a nice amenity this will be once it’s complete.
It runs adjacent to TriMet land, interacting gracefully with stops along the way like the Civic Drive station here:
As it approaches Ruby Junction, the route cuts beneath the rail line:
And almost to the Ruby Junction station, it meets the existing Gresham-Fairview Trail, which runs south to the Springwater.
Another option for folks headed toward Portland is to follow this sidewalk just south of the Ruby Junction station…
…and onto Yamhill Street, which is moderately comfortable at best due to wide lanes and regular traffic. Fortunately, this section is due for some modest improvement — sharrow markings in the lane — thanks to a Regional Travel Options grant from Metro announced last week.
…until you reach a calmer part of the street.
Yamhill, in turn, connects to Main Street and the planned 4M Neighborhood Greenway, which snakes all the way west through the neighborhoods to Interstate 205.
After navigating our way east using the narrow, busy Springwater on a sunny weekend morning, seeing the wide right-of-way set aside for this path was its own sort of fresh air.
You can read Gresham’s account of the trail plans here.
If I have any major concerns about the route, it’d be nighttime safety in a setting that’s quite separate from the street grid — “ultimately, the best way to deter crime and vandalism on the trail is to have a large volume of users,” the city writes — and that other bane of the outer Springwater: the street crossings. It won’t be until we see the design elements there that it’ll be clear whether this nice new facility is going to make itself truly obvious to people whenever they drive across it.