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Oaks Bottom project will close Springwater path for four months this summer

Posted by on January 9th, 2018 at 3:24 pm

(Map graphic: Portland BES)

A major project to improve wildlife habitat at the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge will come with a full closure of one the busiest biking corridors in Portland.

Starting this July, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), Portland Parks and Recreation and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, plans to close the Springwater Corridor path between Oaks Amusement Park and the Oaks Bottom Trail for up to 120 days. Contractors will use the path to stage construction vehicles and move material.

When this same project was first proposed back in 2010 (it was ultimately delayed), it raised major concerns with the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Members of that committee urged BES to use the adjacent railroad right-of-way in order to keep the path open. This time around, the City and the Corps of Engineers incorporated feedback from the community and designed a plan that incorporates barge access and/or rail as a primary haul route. However, the Springwater closure is still necessary to safely complete the culvert and channel grading work in the refuge.

The latest City bike counts show that about 2,800 people ride this section of the path on an average weekday and that number more than doubles on the weekends. The closure is on the same section of path we recently highlighted as one of the top ten most popular Strava segments in the country.

The other point of concern from the advisory committee was the detour plan. The closure will require path users to ride on surface streets, or head to the other side of the Willamette River. In 2010, the north-south options on the east side of the river were not great at all. In fact, they were so bad that PBOT created a bike detour map that listed eight bikeway upgrades they planned to finish before the closure started.

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Bikes at Earth DayThis photo shows part of the section that will be closed.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

According to BES Project Manager Ronda Fast, they are working with the Bureau of Transportation to develop a detailed map so path users can plan out the best route around the closure. While none of the detours will be as safe, direct, or convenient, the options are better now than they were eight years ago.

The main detour options will be:
➤ The SE 19th Avenue Neighborhood Greenway route (which should be completed by this spring) through Sellwood which connects to the SE 17th Avenue to “Clinton to River” route (via SE Insley/Milwaukie or via SE Harold to pathway along the northeast side of McLoughlin Blvd.)
➤ SE 19th Neighborhood Greenway to the Oaks Bottom “bluff” trail at SE Milwaukie which brings you back to the Springwater path.
➤ The Sellwood Bridge to the Willamette Greenway path on the west side of the river.

In addition to a detailed map, Fast assured me that there will be plenty of signage in the area to warn people about the closure so they can choose a different route without wasting too much effort.

If you’re wondering why the closure has to happen in the busiest riding months it’s because that’s all the “in-water work window” that has the least harmful impacts on federally protected fish.

The project also comes with a new wildlife viewing platform and a turnout that will be accessible from the Springwater path. The turnout will be built over a new fish passage culvert just north of the floating home community. It will be about 50-feet long and add about eight feet of width to the path. The viewing platform will further south just at the northern end of Oaks Amusement Park. It will be about 95-feet long with a landing to park bikes and a ramp up to an overlook. This is good to hear not only because viewing wildlife is cool, but the path is so busy and so narrow in these sections that having a place to pull over and rest or just allow faster trail users to pass will be a nice upgrade.

Check out the official project page for more details.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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SilkySlim
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SilkySlim

Darn you invasive purple loosestrife!!

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Ok…moving forward to making some lemonade out of this planned longterm closure detour…how about PBoT/ BES make a world class bikeway detour fitting for ~3000 bicyclists a day: intersection upgrades (new signal priority/ stop sign changes), on-street separated facilities, speed limit reduction/ traffic calming, parking removal where needed, etc. There are many examples of best practices out there…versus just throwing up some way finding signage.

David
Guest
David

I would be VERY wary of this timeline. Speaking from the experience of BES replacing a culvert in my neck of the woods last summer/fall (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/573861). They closed the street for six weeks, then 9, then 10, then 13 and barely opened it up after that much time. This involved a waiver to extend the in-water work window for the project due to fabrication issues with the culvert and flooding from some rain that passed through the area as summer faded into fall.

The final product is nice (although being in SW it just means sidewalks to and from nowhere) but the bad detours, lack of communication, and repeated delays made it a bad experience. Hopefully with this being higher profile the processes will be better defined but I have serious doubts that the closure will be anything less than 120 days.

jeff
Guest
jeff

meh.. cross the sellwood, ride a few miles on the west side, come back over the Tilikum, not the end of the world.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Without affordable housing there will be no cyclists…. https://www.southeastexaminer.com/2018/01/petition-calls-for-public-vote-on-rip/

SD
Guest
SD

The large magnitude of suckage from this disruption is inversely proportional to the amount of low-stress, uninterrupted, accessible bike paths.

Drew
Guest
Drew

Portland is working hard to make itself into a city where bicycle transport is an afterthought; only possible where it doesn’t interfere with the increasing level of private motor vehicle transport. Move to Portland and bring all your cars.. you WILL get priority!

Mike Szwaya
Guest
Mike Szwaya
Pete S.
Guest
Pete S.

I’m having a hard timer reading the map.

Will people on foot (or scofflaws on bikes) be able to take the trails through Oaks Bottom to skirt the closure and end up back on the Springwater where it intersects with the paved path through Oaks Bottom?

Kelley Goodwin
Guest
Kelley Goodwin

This will be a bummer for the kids attending bike camp at OMSI and our Sellwood Cycle Repair location as it’s their main route to to and from Sellwood. We’ll likely detour to the west side and take advantage of the Sellwood Bridge and Tilikum Crossing.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I would suggest as an email- letter writing pressure point the new head of Portland’s BES, Michael Jordan ( not the basketball one). He was brought in to improve BES’s public image after the Columbia Treatment Plant Building Scandle and is reputed to be very politically savy and connected. Perhaps he has the juice to “encourage” PBOT to do the right thing and install a high quality detour route. If anyone has his official contact info to share that would be good I think.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Is being purposely obtuse the cool thing now?

2 wheel commuter
Guest
2 wheel commuter

Seems like the city could offer up their adjacent rail line tracks that never get used as temporary replacement bike path for this period. Simple and done.

joan
Subscriber

This is terrible.

2 wheel commuter
Guest
2 wheel commuter

Perfect opportunity to expand and widen the entire stretch of this MUP from sellwood to OMSI through here. Dedicated bike path (bikes only), anyone? Platinum?

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Just ride it anyway.

Tony Jordan (Contributor)
Subscriber

I guess I won’t be visiting Oaks Park this summer with my kids.

Joe Fortino
Guest
Joe Fortino

dang sounds like its going all modern 🙁 hope the rare frogs stay alive.

Joe Fortino
Guest
Joe Fortino

homeless camps where dude? not near the water, was just there for bike ride last Thursday no issues

Brent
Guest
Brent

I wonder if Hood to Coast knows about this yet. This stretch is a major part of their route.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

10 mph limit on the west side path is sure going to put a kink in Fred Timetrial’s training intervals… Sad!

Matthew in Portsmouth
Guest
Matthew in Portsmouth

This is the cycling/running/walking equivalent of closing I-5 in the Rose Quarter for “four months” [Translation from builderese: 7 – 8 months]. If that were to happen there would be predictions of carmageddon from everyone, and telling people to cross the river an use I-405 wouldn’t cut it, ditto for I-205.

If the city were really concerned they would have already established a significant, well planned, safe and speedy detour.

An example: I was visiting Winterthur, Switzerland around ten years ago, there was a building project that had closed some bicycle racks, so the city closed a street and turned it into a bicycle parking lot – that is a city that cares about cycling. In fact, in Winterthur there seemed to be more parking for bikes than cars (the bikes were on these great double decker racks).

ps
Guest
ps

LOL, I read the comments on the article from 7 years ago, folks have gotten soft around here. It isn’t perfect, as no detours are (ya know, like, by definition), but SE 19th to the bluff trail is a perfectly adequate alternative. It may be 0.25 miles longer, and the main troublesome crossing is Bybee, which ought to be improved prior to this going in to place, but really is not going to be a big deal. I am pretty sure, short of individual, uni-directional lexan tunnels separated from vehicles, pedestrians, and lycra clad speed demons, the default response would be outrage.

Riversiderider
Guest
Riversiderider

It is only for a few months!
Seven years ago the Oregon City Bridge closed for almost two years. This bridge carries over 12,000 vehicles per day. There was valid concern that the closure would disrupt traffic, causes back ups and gridlock. There were issues but we all survived and I doubt many remember it.

Edward
Guest
Edward

They’ve been working on this for years. The improvement for a signal crossing of 19th at Bybee is underway, as is the big triangle crossing at the too of the bluff.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Using the west side path is ok, except for the northern part where there are unmarked obstacles, blind corners, large root bumps and an abrupt, unsigned ending in a parking lot. I’d like to think there would be signs to help with this, but I know better.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

The springwater needs to widen when it’s done.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

This project has been in the works since 2010. The city has had 7 years to prepare and improve alternative routes. That is the standard we should hold it to.

Tad
Guest

Especially also because about 50% of that Westside greenway path also has a 10mph speed limit, which is absolutely not going to be adhered to by the disgruntled commuters trying to make up lost time for work. And that itself is a hazard, because that speed limit is there for good reason, given the number of zero-visibility corners often containing dog-walkers, strollers and senior citizens.

Joe Fortino
Guest
Joe Fortino

gotta make room for gas filled wheels taking up the paths.

catherine feta cheese
Guest
catherine feta cheese

If the closing continues into the Fall, not enthusiastic about biking home through the wildlife refuge woods on the connecting under-the-tracks Oaks Bottom “bluff” trail to SE Milwaukie in the dark. Comfortable year round on the regular Springwater section with bike light and winter light from the river. But down inside the refuge alone at night, maybe not so much. Looks like it will probably be 17th for the whole route.

q
Guest
q

I hope there will be some effort made to inform people who use and especially manage the Westside trail that there may be some more traffic.

The Westside trail regularly gets blocked, used as storage area, used by vehicles, etc. and in the few cases where detour signs are put up, the signage and detours are usually horrible. Sometimes agencies don’t even know where the trail is, and all forget it’s an actual transportation route, not just a play area.

Jim Johnson
Guest
Jim Johnson

Would be nice if someone would give an update. Are we ahead or behind schedule? What are they currently doing now.