Ever been on a ride into the Columbia River Gorge and pulled over at the Portland Women’s Forum Scenic Viewpoint and wished there was a restroom, only to end up scampering around that locked gate and finding a tree down that unpaved road to care of your business?
Thanks to a $50 million infusion of funds approved by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission, a new restroom is on the way (along with a lot more car parking spaces and other changes, see below). And that’s not all, the project list includes more camping spots and other upgrades at locations that are popular with bike riders.
The Commission voted to approve a list of 11 projects to be funded in two rounds of $25 million each. The funds come from a bill passed by the 2021 Oregon Legislature that approved the issuance of $50 million in General Obligation bonds to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) for state park facility improvements.
Here are the projects that have an upside for bicycle users (descriptions from OPRD):
Champoeg State Heritage Area Camping Expansion: Add a new camping loop, riverside cabins, and restroom/shower building, as well as possible upgrades to the current drain field or develop an additional drain field and possible electrical and water systems upgrades.
Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint Restroom and Parking Expansion: Construct a restroom building and expand parking at the Portland Women’s Forum. Initial design work is complete for both a restroom and 100-space parking lot that meets National Scenic Area requirements.
Silver Falls State Park Camping Expansion & North Falls Complex: Begin the north gateway development that includes a campground with restroom/shower facilities, a North Gateway Visitor Center, and a new North Canyon trailhead and parking lot. Infrastructure improvements such as water, electrical, and sewer systems included, as well as relocation of the current RV dump station.
Smith Rock State Park Visitor Center & Congestion: Build a new visitor center and restroom, as well as complete electrical upgrades, and make parking/traffic improvements to meet current and future visitor needs. Work to include some trail improvements.
Cape Lookout State Park: Relocate A & B loops to higher ground, which includes new roads, new infrastructure and restroom/shower facilities. Remove facilities that are being lost to ocean erosion.
Milo McIver State Park: Add a second loop with restroom/shower facilities to the campground. Upgrade the park sewer and water systems. The current water system provides water to both the park and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish hatchery within the park. Current general obligation bond estimate $3-5 million.
As you can see in the Women’s Forum concept drawing, the changes will make this popular cycling destination much safer for bicycle riders. Unlike the current design which requires riders to bike through a parking lot to reach the viewpoint, the new design would move the parking lot to a separate area.
OPRD will receive two disbursements of $25 million each, with the first occurring May 2022 and the second in March 2023. These funds must be spent within three years of payout. Construction for the May 2022 projects (Champoeg, Women’s Forum, Silver Falls, Smith Rock) are expected to begin in fall 2022.