Dominoes keep falling for a continuous river path in South Waterfront

Posted by on July 21st, 2016 at 8:41 am

South Waterfront Greenway path-6

An existing path segment somewhat north of the Prometheus project. White for walking, black for biking.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Last month we were overjoyed to report that automaker Tesla had voluntarily agreed to build a segment of riverfront bike path behind its future showroom on Southwest Macadam.

If a new housing and retail project that entered the city’s development pipeline Monday moves forward, it’d be the final piece of a continuous west-bank greenway from the Sellwood Bridge almost to the Ross Island Bridge — and in the coming years to Tilikum Crossing.

The vacant lot between Southwest Lowell, Lane, Bond and the Willamette River would get four new seven-story buildings with ground-floor retail and 200 to 300 apartments above, under a very early concept plan filed for a pre-application hearing by the local firm GBD Architects, which is representing San Mateo-based Prometheus Real Estate Group. Here’s the site plan for the Prometheus project marking future “recreational trails” with a string of stars:

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And here’s a more detailed draft of a possible plan for the site, showing the curves of the “possible greenway trails” (which city plans will require the developer to install as a condition of development) along the river.

Zoom out a bit, and here’s the full stretch of path along the waterfront, with each remaining gap marked:

Here’s what the (currently disconnected) greenway segment between the Zidell barge drydock and the Prometheus land looks like. It’s one of the only paths in Portland to separate biking and walking:

South Waterfront Greenway path-12

The Zidell land might not fully develop into a planned extension of downtown’s office-tower district for another 10 years. But the Portland Development Commission has agreed to build the path segment through Zidell’s land itself using property taxes collected from new buildings in the area, so it could go in sooner.

Willamette Park is a bit below the southern end of the map above. As we reported last month, Multnomah County just completed the new path segment between the new Sellwood Bridge and Willamette Park.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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54 Comments
  • Avatar
    David July 21, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Biketown, better greenway diversion, Better Naito all summer (and closing the Naito gap), Central City bikeways soon underway, what else? Are we looking at the Bike Tipping Point in Portland…finally?!?

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      Alex Reedin July 21, 2016 at 9:27 am

      I’d say there are many tipping points. We’re finally making substantial progress towards some. A few years ago, we were making veery slow progress which was in my opinion partially being taken back by increased driver meanness and shortcutting.
      1) Some inner-Portland infrastructure, enough for sort of a network + drivers on average nicer compared to the rest of the U.S. –> enthused, confident, fit, prime-age people with origins and destinations in inner Portland bike, much more so in the summer than the winter. PASSED! (~6-8% mode share)
      2) Truly comfortable inner-Portland infrastructure –> interested but concerned people of all ages with origins and destinations in inner Portland bike if they feel like it, much more so in the summer than the winter. MAKING PROGRESS (~5% additional mode share)
      3) Some outer-Portland infrastructure, enough for sort of a network –> enthused, confident, fit, prime-age people with origins and destinations fairly close to each other in outer Portland bike, much more so in the summer than the winter. MAKING PROGRESS (~4% additional mode share)
      4) Truly comfortable outer-Portland infrastructure –> interested but concerned people of all ages with origins and destinations fairly nearby, much more so in the summer than the winter. NOT EVEN CLOSE (~3% additional mode share)
      5) Biking is more convenient than driving for most trips in inner Portland (greenways paved well and made convenient, major street protected bike lanes, car parking expensive/annoying, cars stuck in traffic)–> interested but concerned people of all ages with origins and destinations in inner Portland bike, all the time, unless it’s pouring. People traveling from outer Portland to inner Portland may start to e-bike in sizeable numbers, though still far from a majority (~7.5% additional mode share)

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 21, 2016 at 9:48 am

        Wait wait, I want your forecast on item (5)!

        Also I think it’s funny that you stopped at precisely 26.5%.

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          stephanlindner July 21, 2016 at 10:52 am

          My take on number (5) would be not even close — to reach the interested but concerned here, we would need a transformation of downtown, as David said, and because downtown is already quite congested, that would require the city to move away from the approach that bike infrastructure can be put in place without affecting vehicular traffic. Downtown feels very much 1960s to me — there are too many cars and too many road space dedicated to traffic and parking.

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            Alex Reedin July 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

            IMO, we’re further than not even close on #5 – the political establishment doesn’t even accept these as goals worth incurring significant costs for. Changes that improve convenience for cycling currently have to be snuck in with “safety” projects (e.g. turning the stop sign at 17th & Clinton) and changes that decrease the convenience or increase the cost of driving are currently fought one-by-one with a requirement that the cost/convenience impacts on driving be “small” (e.g. 10-cent gas tax, 2-minute excess auto delay in 2030? 2035? for Foster streetscape, 100 racks displacing car parking for BIKETOWN out of 1000 racks).

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              soren July 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm

              Alex, other than a few short stretches of MUP, a few sections of Greenway, and SW Moody, I personally don’t see much evidence of progress when it comes to “truly comfortable inner-Portland infrastructure”. Can you expand on this?

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        David July 21, 2016 at 10:15 am

        I definitely agree with all that, and I’m curious to hear what you think of this terribly produced graphic I just edited (very poorly–link below). I’m looking at bike adoption through the lens of diffusion theory. This only accounts for everybody up to and including “interested but concerned” cyclists (not the “no-way, no-how” crowd, or those unable due to age, physical ability, etc).

        My guess is that we’re getting close to the chasm, but aren’t quite there yet. I think bike share and a some more improvements will lead to some modest increases followed by a bit more stagnation until huge, New-York-esque downtown transformation takes place (making it easy to take transit in, then bike to the final destination). That piece is critical, along with either much better rapid transit from east Portland and the suburbs to job centers, or fully protected bikeways into downtown.

        Anyway, here’s my picture: http://i.imgur.com/93bDSF5.jpg

        Thoughts?

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 21, 2016 at 10:29 am

          I love the observation that rapid transit between east Portland and the central grid will be essential to increasing biking! Making car ownership feel optional for most people in east Portland (which is going to be the trick to increasing biking there IMO) will require the comfortable bike infrastructure Alex describes … but the most important connections will be to MAX and to dedicated bus lanes on Division/Powell, 122nd, maybe 82nd, maybe Sandy/Columbia.

          In outer Southwest, the most important bike connections will probably be to transit on Barbur.

          Just my opinions.

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            q July 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm

            Yes. I couldn’t believe a few years ago how the Lake Oswego streetcar somehow vaulted to the top of the heap for attention. There are so many east/west routes on the east side needing better transit, that would serve far more people at far less cost. I’d love to see attention focused on those over the next few years.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. July 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

            Too bad the rebooted “Division Corridor” bus project is slated to run entirely in mixed traffic.

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              Alex Reedin July 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

              Ugh… has any consideration been made of a “Division/Hawthorne Corridor”? Make the right lane on Hawthorne right-turn-only except bus; enforce by retractable bollard every few blocks. SE 50th would still be mixed-traffic, and Division between 82nd and 50th, but – mostly dedicated is better than mostly not dedicated, right?

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      TJ July 21, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Sure, if Portland were only that small.

      I’m a sub 25 min bike ride to work in the Pearl from St. Johns — that’s close in. Yet, it is a seriously sketch ride only made safer if detouring a couple of miles out of the way to Vancouver/Williams. This detour is more absurd the further south one lives.

      Interstate and Greeley and even Willamette Blvd. are massively under standard options with largely no alternative.

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        Blake July 22, 2016 at 10:51 pm

        I have heard that an important fix on Interstate / Larrabee should be put in around the 1st week of November.

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      maccoinnich July 21, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      Flanders Greenway funded, construction starting on Twenties Bikeway, Bike/Ped only NE Couch Place about to open, Second Avenue being restriped with protected bike lanes in next few weeks, Ankeny Plaza has just opened, construction starting on SW Bond with protected bike lanes, extension of NW 20th under highway 30 with protected bike lanes…

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    bikeninja July 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Great Job, kudos to all involved. This time we have momentum on our side as the worlds petroleum situation becomes becomes increasingly untenable as the cost and EROI ( energy return on energy invested) of most new sources of oil are below the threshold level to keep the auto-complex going. Happy motoring will become more and more difficult or unaffordable for all those involved and the reality of the situation will push us towards cycling and other things.

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    JNE July 21, 2016 at 9:07 am

    So great to see additional camping facilities added to the city!

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      David July 21, 2016 at 9:10 am

      How constructive

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        B. Carfree July 21, 2016 at 9:34 am

        Ignoring reality won’t change it.

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        m July 21, 2016 at 10:29 am

        It’s legal now. Haven’t you heard?

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      dan July 21, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Sadly, the same thought crossed my mind

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      maccoinnich July 21, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Fewer than there are on that site now.

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    Cory P July 21, 2016 at 9:49 am

    This is great news! Now how about the springwater gap?

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Only 7 stories seems small for CX zoning. Great that the path is being extended though.

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    Gary B July 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Awesome news! Of course within 2 months after I leave the neighborhood–after 8 years there–we finally have progress on these gaps.

    On the “Real Estate Beat” side of things, why only 7 stories?? Some of the neighboring buildings are what, like 30 stories? I thought South Waterfront is striving to be high density, what’s with the shorter buildings lately? Not much space left.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

      I just checked, and the land is zoned CX (central commercial) which only allows for a 75′ maximum height (generally 6-7 stories). But then again, the rest of South Waterfront is zoned CX as well, and some of the buildings extend to 30 stories. Probably because the North Macadam URA allows for additional height?

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      rick July 21, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Didn’t the Zidell family not want tall towers?

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    rick July 21, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Yes !

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    ethan July 21, 2016 at 11:06 am

    I wonder if there’s ever been a highway built in Oregon the same way? I’m pretty sure 205 wasn’t built piece by piece as neighboring properties became developed.

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      Social Engineer July 21, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Actually, it was. I-205 was largely completed through Clackamas County in 1974. Because of prolonged litigation, the Multnomah County portion didn’t open for almost another decade.

      https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION1/pages/i205/generalinfo.aspx

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        ethan July 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

        Building half of a highway at one time and building the other half later is a lot different than relying on new development to create a sidewalk or bike path.

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    Adam July 21, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I like the separated bike and walk paths. Just like they do in Vancouver BC!

    But I don’t see any markings telling users which is which? Is that just the particular stretch shown in the photo that is devoid? Without markings telling me which is which, I myself would likely bike on the wrong path.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 21, 2016 at 11:46 am

      They have fancy metal markings embedded within the pavement. Though I do agree that some vertical signage would be helpful.

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        rachel b July 21, 2016 at 12:24 pm

        Yes–they’re pretty! Little metal pedestrians and bicyclists. My former company worked on this project.

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        Mike Sanders July 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

        In Holland, signage showing bike / ped lanes is fairly common in the big cities (Amsterdam, The Hague) and on bridges designed to carry ped / bike traffic separately from highways and rail lines. Similar signage certainly would be in order along the west bank of the Willamette.

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    Matti July 21, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Unfortunately for the Willamette greenway trail system there is also some redevelopment that is currently under construction south of the locations in the story that has a very uncomfortable (way too close!) relationship to the river bank and greenway trail. I suspect it is because the property had a former restaurant development that grandfathered-in the setback off the river bank. This particular location is just south of the Aquariva restaurant. Too bad for the greenway.

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      q July 21, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Just walked there at night on a weekday. Glad I wasn’t there midday on a weekend on a bike. It’s under construction, so what’s there maybe what’s there isn’t permanent, but if it’s not, it doesn’t look like there’s room to make it much better–just sharp blind turns.

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        Gary B July 22, 2016 at 8:35 am

        I’m pretty sure the trail will run between the buildings when they’re complete. Those hard/tight turns around the construction to the easy I think are just a detour route.

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          q July 22, 2016 at 9:42 am

          I bet you’re right. I remember there being two new buildings, so it could run behind the waterfront one, just as the old trail did.

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      rick July 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Yes. That part of the trail is now awful !

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    q July 21, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Riding along the river and with a great view of the water–this looks nice.

    Willamette Park was mentioned–too bad that there, the new bike path will force bikes away from the river, with no water views at all. But then, there are almost no water views left there for pedestrians, either. It’s ironic, with new trails such as in the article getting built, we’ll soon have a situation where the only place you can’t ride along the river or see the water will be at the park named after the river.

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      rick July 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      The river needs shade to keep the water cooler.

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        q July 21, 2016 at 5:50 pm

        Shade is good, nature is good. Not being able to see the river when biking or walking along riverfront trails is bad. A small bit of trimming around eye level to open up some views, without even removing a single tree, would be enough.

        I’m guessing the new trails outside Willamette Park will maintain river views after planting mature, which I’m glad for.

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          Chris I July 22, 2016 at 8:16 am

          It’s all subjective. Some of us prefer more direct paths over meandering river paths. The best way to see the river is from a boat.

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            q July 22, 2016 at 10:02 am

            You can have both direct paths and views, so this isn’t a case of having to choose between having views or having a direct route. The new trails prove that. So do thousands of miles of waterfront trails all over world. So did Willamette Park until a couple years ago.

            When the difference between seeing the river and not is some minor trimming–with no changes to the actual trail needed–I don’t know anyone walking or biking who’d prefer to NOT see the river.

            Your “the best way to see the river is from a boat” is dismissive. Of course you get a great view from a boat. Few people can spend much time on boats, but lots of people can bike and walk along the river, and many do specifically for river views.

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    Buzz July 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    just grow some cojones and make the property owners build, pay for, or grant ROW for continuous paths on BOTH sides of the river. It’s in both city and state law. How long do we have to wait?

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      q July 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      It’s in City and State law?

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        Buzz July 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        State Legislation:
        The Willamette River Greenway Program, established by the 1967 Oregon legislature, is a cooperative state and local government effort to maintain and enhance the scenic, recreational, historic, natural and agricultural qualities of the Willamette River and its adjacent lands.[1] A number of trails exist along the greenway, but significant gaps still exist.[2]

        Oregon State Treasurer Robert Straub first proposed public ownership of lands along the Willamette in 1966, during his run for Governor of Oregon.[3] U.S. Senator Maurine Neuberger sought federal funds to support the program.[4] Straub was defeated in that race by Tom McCall, who supported the proposal.[3]

        The 1973 Oregon legislature passed the Willamette River Greenway Act, which established ties to a comprehensive state land use law (Oregon Senate Bill 100) passed that same year.[3]

        In 1975, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development included the Willamette River Greenway as one of nineteen standards for statewide planning, requiring that public access, native vegetation, and scenic views be considered when planning new developments.[3]
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Greenway

        City code:
        https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/53351

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    q July 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, and I’ve worked a lot with the zoning code’s Greenway regulations, but you mentioned “make the property owners build, pay for, or grant ROW for continuous paths on BOTH sides of the river”. Those regulations don’t require that.

    It just came up with the Tesla property. The City agreed that Tesla wasn’t doing anything that would trigger requirements to build or pay for the trail. If there’s new development, that’s a different matter.

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      q July 22, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      This was meant as a reply to buzz’s info about City and State regulations.

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      Buzz July 22, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Well then, the laws probably aren’t strong enough, wouldn’t you agree?

      Anyway, my point is simply that there are relevant laws, but the Willamette Greenway must not really be that high of a priority to either the city or the state, since they’ve been working on it for almost 50 years, and it’s still nowhere near done yet…

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        q July 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        I don’t agree at all that the laws aren’t strong enough. Just because the trail is a desireable thing to have for the city doesn’t mean the property owners should have to pay for it, or give up land for it. It’s their property, not ours.

        And the laws are related to the Greenway trail, but they’re unrelated to any notion of requiring property owners to give up property or pay for the trail in the absence of doing development. Personally, I don’t even like trail requirements being made a condition of granting development approvals.

        However, I agree it’s not a high enough priority. I’d rather see the city pay property owners for the land, or pay for easements, and then pay to finish the trail. That would solve my objections to forcing the trail on property owners when they redevelop, and it would also mean completing the trail wouldn’t have to wait for properties to redevelop.

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