Concepts come into focus for ‘North Reach’ of South Waterfront Greenway path

Artist’s rendition of how biking and walking paths could intersect with a public plaza on the Willamette riverfront as part of the South Waterfront Greenway’s North Reach.
(Graphics: Sasaki via Portland Parks & Recreation)

The City of Portland is in the latter stages of a master plan update process that will decide the fate of the northernmost section of the South Waterfront Greenway path. Last week Portland Parks & Recreation released three of the design concepts in a presentation given by project consultants and now they want to hear your feedback.

Red line shows where new path would go.

You might recall that a major portion of the new path was completed in March 2015. The “North Reach” of the greenway consists of about four-tenths of a mile between the end of that existing path (at around SW Gibbs Street and the Zidell barge-building warehouse) to the Marquam Bridge.

With all the development in this district and the big plans for the waterfront recently unveiled by Zidell Yards, this is an exciting opportunity to create world-class public space that will double as an important cycling route along the Willamette River. (For more on how Zidell’s plans will impact path construction see our story from September.)

Portland Parks & Rec shared a presentation via YouTube from the project consultants on December 27th. Here are the main highlights of the three concepts:


This concept would distribute public plazas evenly across the new path and orient people toward specific views (Mt. Hood, downtown, bridges, and so on). Like the new section of path to the south, the cycling and walking paths would be separated with people on foot being closest to the river.


“The Braided River”

Taking its name from the natural flow of our region’s rivers, this concept would put most of the public spaces toward the south near Ross Island. The biking and walking paths would still be separated but they would undulate more organically than in the “Bursts” concept.

“The River Terraces”

In this concept the biking and walking paths would be on raised boardwalks which would allow for a more connected natural landscape. In between plazas the paths would be on the same level and separated by some type of physical barrier. When going by a plaza space, the bike path (which would be closest to the river in this concept) would drop about 18 inches below the walking path.

In each of the concepts the designers say they will go to great lengths to connect the riverfront path to adjacent streets. Getting people from the path up to the Tilikum Bridge is another important consideration yet to be ironed out. After hearing public feedback on these concepts, planners will refine the alternatives and make a final recommendation. Construction isn’t expected to be completed for several more years.

In related news, a South Waterfront neighborhood group won a $13,640 Metro grant to install 20 bicycle wayfinding signs in the district.

All this news combined with other progress with the path in recent months is adding up to an important time for transportation planning in South Waterfront. If you’d like to get involved, check out the City of Portland’s North Reach planning website.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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