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Ask BikePortland: What’s up with Zidell and the future of South Waterfront greenway path?

City of Portland graphic showing future path location in front of Zidell property.

Today’s question (actually it’s more of a statement in need of clarification) comes from reader Douglas K.:

Zidell says they’ll be building just one more barge. That could clear one of the last major obstacles to completing the Willamette Greenway trail sooner than expected.

Could it? Many of you have contacted about this in the past few days. Here’s the lowdown and background on the issue:

One of the most common signs of Portland’s ever-changing urban landscape is movement of industrial manufacturing away from the the central city. It happened in northwest Portland before the Pearl District became a thing and it’s happening right before our eyes in the central eastside.

The South Waterfront area was never as developed as those two areas but the presence of manufacturing still looms over all the new condos, OHSU medical buildings and food carts. With the announcement last week that Zidell Marine Corporation will stop building shipping barges, many of you instantly thought of the South Waterfront Greenway path.

The path currently ends abruptly at the start of Zidell’s shipyard near the Ross Island Bridge.

One vision for future path design via Pinterest. Notice the nod to shipbuilding.


(Graphic: City of Portland)

So back to the question: Does Zidell’s announcement mean we’ll be riding on the path sooner than expected? Not exactly.

We asked Portland Parks & Recreation for the official word:

Zidell’s endeavor does not change the timeline for design of the Greenway. That process is already underway. Zidell’s plans could potentially change the timeline for construction, but as we understand it, barge operations in the form of repairs and modifications to existing barges are expected to continue at the site. The announcement mentions that only the building of new barges is being stopped with the one currently being built on the site.

The timeline for the Greenway construction is set forth in the Development Agreement (PDF) between the City and Zidell (ZRZ Realty). This part of the Greenway (from Tilikum Bridge south to Gibbs Street) is identified as “Phase 3” of 3 phases, so the last phase. That phase in the Development Agreement is shown as years 2025-2035.

It has always been anticipated that the Greenway build-out would occur in conjunction with immediately adjacent development. Zidell is undertaking a Master Plan, which will set the timing and location for their development.

The City refers to this section of the path project as the North Reach. You can learn more about it on the Parks bureau website.

Get more burning questions answered in the Ask BikePortland archives.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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