Advocates say it’s a perfect time to invest in ‘Safe Routes to the Slough’

Posted by on March 8th, 2019 at 1:57 pm

There are great places to ride on and beyond the Columbia Slough. Getting to them should be much easier.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

With Metro laying groundwork on two major funding initiatives, advocates with the 40-Mile Loop say the time is now to make a substantial investment in the paths, roads, and trails that get people to the Columbia Slough Watershed.

Retired Portland Parks & Recreation manager Jim Sjulin is shopping around a concept known as Safe Routes to the Slough. According to his five-page case statement (PDF) there are 27 parks, open spaces, and natural area properties in the 5,200 acres that make up the Columbia River Flood Plain — between Kelley Point Park at the tip of St. Johns to the Sandy River Delta near Troutdale.

The problem is, 95 percent of the 180,000 people who live in adjacent neighborhoods are effectively cut off from biking and walking to these areas due to a lack of infrastructure and/or the presence of dangerous roads and highways.

(Source: 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, Case Statement for Safe Routes to the Slough)

Think of trying to ride a bicycle to Kelley Point Park, Whitaker Ponds, or the Sandy River Delta. Now think of whether or not you’d do that with an eight-year-old or an eighty-year-old. Probably not, due to bikeway gaps and having to deal with major crossings like Columbia Blvd, Sandy Blvd, Airport Way, and so on.

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“Over the 20-mile length of the watershed,” reads the case statement, “now only two non-motorized access routes connecting upland residential areas to natural areas and parks in the floodplain: The Peninsula Crossing Trail and the I-205 Bike Path.”

(Source: 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, Case Statement for Safe Routes to the Slough)

The timing is good for 40-Mile Loop to present this concept because Metro is about to put a renewal of their parks and nature bond on the ballot this year. And next year, Metro will present the region with a major transportation infrastructure investment bond.

Sjulin says while most people think of trails, paths, bike lanes and roads as one integrated system for getting them from A-to-B, agencies are siloed into “recreation” and “transportation” projects. He sees Safe Routes to the Slough as an opportunity to combine these needs into one package.

For their part, Metro — who convinced voters to pass natural area bond measures in 1995 and 2006 and local-option levies in 2013 and 2016 — says they plan to spend less on acquiring properties this time around, and more on getting people to existing properties. That’s a perfect fit for the 40-Mile Loop’s idea. Another way this project fits with Metro’s goals is that the area surrounding the Columbia Slough watershed is home to some of the lowest-income and most racially diverse census tracts in the region.

Borrowing from language used in previous Metro bond measures, the 40-Mile Loop recommends making the Columbia Slough Watershed an official “target area” for investment.

If you think this is an effort worth supporting, consider emailing your thoughts to Metro via metrocouncil@oregonmetro.gov.

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

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20 Comments
  • Avatar
    Josh G March 9, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Any movement on the trail through Port property at NE 33rd and Marine Drive?

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    oliver March 9, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Peninsula Levee please.

    Yesterday.

    I’m rarely afraid (I’m conscious of the risks) when cycling on the road, but riding into the sun at the end of the day on Marine Drive for the short stretch between 33rd and 13th (in addition to the tunnel of doom on Vancouver Way/Schmeer) keeps me from riding anywhere on Marine Drive after work.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson March 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    There is a funded Metro project to construct the Greenway Trail from Chimney Park over Columbia Blvd on a new bridge and to a “St Johns Prairie” viewpoint; the old landfill is currently being restored by Metro, with Western Meadow Larks as a key measure. The hope is that the trail project can include the preliminary design for extending the Trail to N. Lombard, including the key North Slough bridge. Learn more at http://www.npGreenway.org

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      Jeff S(egundo) March 11, 2019 at 10:55 am

      Funded for when? This seems like a future project that keeps getting pushed out.

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    Roberta March 9, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Right now 205 path is scary and I won’t do it again. On Sunday March 3 I joined the 205 bike path at Prescott, heading north to go shopping at Target by the airport. Near the Sandy underpass there was a large encampment with guys stripping bike frames. The scary part was the encampment under Sandy. Homesteaders had their belongings spread over nearly all the entire bikeway, leaving a path just barely wide enough for my bike tire and pedals. Bike frames hung overhead and I had to duck to avoid being hit by the “inventory”. People were inside the tents. Propane tanks and then pure garbage abounds. I chose not to bike home that way – too creepy. So I chose to bike home via Alderwood > Cornfoot > 47th by Whitaker Ponds. Crossing Columbia at 47th/42nd was fine but that hill heading south on 42nd is too steep and too narrow. I walked my bike on the sidewalk on the opposite side (facing traffic) and that sidewalk ends as well. Way too narrow for uphill biking and fast cars.

    I’m a woman in my mid-50’s, and I’ve been bike commuting in Portland since the 90s. Not the timid 80 y/o used as an example, but also not strong enough to keep up with traffic when the hill is steep and the road narrow.

    I sure would like to see that encampment under Sandy cleaned up. It’s been there a long time, but never taken up so much traffic space as this week. I would have taken a picture, but no way with those people working on all those bike parts. I might have gotten beaten up or my own bike taken from me.

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      Toby Keith March 9, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Roberta, I’ve seen exactly what you’ve seen there on the 205 path and it’s a nightmare.

      Please use this form to report:
      https://www.portlandoregon.gov/69333

      We have to keep the pressure on the city or we’ve lost these paths forever ***portion of comment deleted***.

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        Toby Keith March 9, 2019 at 10:24 pm

        I may have bungled that link so this e-mail is also supposed to be a way to report campsites:
        reportpdx@portlandoregon.gov

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        Middle of the Road Guy March 11, 2019 at 9:06 am

        I have zero confidence in the city to do anything about the issue. They seem more intent on avoiding “Compassion shaming” from the Progressive crowd rather than maintaining order.

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          Toby Keith March 11, 2019 at 6:08 pm

          Middle, I wish you were wrong but at the rate I’ve seen the camping and trash building out here on the east side you are probably spot on. : (

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        Roberta March 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm

        Thank you. I filled out the form.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 10, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Thanks for sharing this Roberta. Flagging it for Comment of the Week.

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      hotrodder March 10, 2019 at 10:56 am

      If you like using Prescott as your E/W route and you want to avoid the underpass at Sandy, (and who doesn’t these days) I might recommend taking the 205 path S from Cascade station, cross Killingsworth (by the Pony Soldier Inn), cross Sandy then immediately go South to Prescott on Sandy. No doubt there is a lot of traffic, but it’s a very wide avenue, and sightlines are good and the bikelane is pretty wide. Like a lot of people, I wonder why parts of the I205 BIKE PATH are no longer an option for a comfortable route North and South.

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        Roberta March 11, 2019 at 8:04 pm

        Thanks… I will try that route.

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      David Hampsten March 10, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      The 205 path is an ODOT facility. At least ODOT recognizes that they have a problem (pdf): https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Documents/Camping-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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      curly March 11, 2019 at 5:03 am

      It is a tragedy that the city, and east Portland residents in particular, have effectively lost this premier active transportation facility because it is considered unsafe to ride. I would also add that it is the only lighted Multi Use Path so it’s usable 24/7 were it not for the described unsafe conditions.
      While gaining access to the Columbia River Slough recreation areas is important, you could effectively argue that active transportation access to the industrial areas along the Columbia River Corridor would create a huge economic benefit to an area that incorporates almost as many jobs as downtown Portland and do so in an environmentally friendly manner. Isn’t this as important?

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        Lester Burnham March 11, 2019 at 7:43 am

        In that particular area on the path under Sandy I had one tweaker pull his fist back like he was going to take a swing at me as I rode by then yell something derogatory as I rode away. I would love nothing more than to see that area completely swept. And then get some police patrols on ATV’s. Till something happens to clean it up, I gave up riding it. Thanks Wheeler.

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          curly March 11, 2019 at 6:09 pm

          It would be effective to lobby Danielle Outlaw to push for a police bike patrol to save this effective transportation facility. It is my understanding that there are a group of police officers from East Precinct who think it would be a worthwhile investment. I spoke some officers at a Gateway Green event and they’re all for it!

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      Middle of the Road Guy March 11, 2019 at 9:05 am

      They are just scrappy urban adventurers recycling metal.

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      drs March 11, 2019 at 9:52 am

      I205 trail is a mess. The Peninsula Crossing trail is awful, as well. Large encampments usually line much of the pathway. I noticed that one cluster of tents that had been encroaching on the pathway for months has recently been moved. But it will inevitably return if there is no regular enforcement of rules prohibiting camping in parks.

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      Lindsay Nadrich March 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Hi, Roberta! My name is Lindsay Nadrich. I’m a reporter for KGW News. Any chance you’d be up for chatting with me about the experience you posted about? I am looking into the issue today. Can you give the newsroom a call and ask for Lindsay? The newsroom number is 503-226-5111 or you can send me an email: Lnadrich@kgw.com Please let me know as soon as you can! Thank you!

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