$50 million for Oregon State Parks will be boost for bicycling

Riders taking a break at Women’s Forum.

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.

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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.

(Concept for Women’s Forum project. Source: OPRD)

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.

Learn more by viewing the full project list (PDF) and check out the Parks Commission website.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago

Looks like a good list of projects. Camping has exploded in popularity these past two years, and trying to book a spot at most of the State Parks during the summer is impossible. Great to see them upgrading facilities and adding more camping spots.

soren
soren
2 years ago

The democratic supermajority chose to spend $50,000,000 on “campgrounds”, “camp ground parking lots”, and “visitor centers” while human beings die of exposure due to lack of shelter. It’s often hard to distinguish the moral politics of Oregon’s two right wing parties.

Xavier R.
Xavier R.
2 years ago
Reply to  soren

Oh brother. I’m glad to see some cycling infrastructure being built.

Asher Atkinson
Asher Atkinson
2 years ago
Reply to  soren

I avoid off topic comments, but I’m convinced the ‘moral’ impulse to throw money at homelessness is the problem, not the solution, and it’s imperative to call it out. It’s not about money, it’s about how it is spent. Likely more objective thinking went into the prioritization and design of these capital improvements for our parks than has gone into the literal billons spent by Oregon and our west coast neighbors to address homelessness. I recommend Michael Shellenberger’s new book San Fransicko for those willing to keep their moral compass calibrated and get serious about how to mitigate the constellation of problems exposed by human beings living and dying on our streets.

Sio
Sio
2 years ago

A painful irony that “Women’s Forum” doesn’t have a safe place for women to use the bathroom. Rode out there so many times before I realized that if I just went a little further to Vista House, there is a bathroom there.

KRSintheGorge
KRSintheGorge
2 years ago
Reply to  Sio

The problem is, the septic system at the Vista House is failing. The restrooms are badly needed on the HCRH as the volume of visitors is ever increasing.

Xavier R.
Xavier R.
2 years ago

Looks cool. New bathroom is far enough from Portland that it won’t be used exclusively for shooting up meth. That is good. I try to pee outdoors when riding in Portland….seems safer and cleaner. 🙂 Plus it’s now socially acceptable in the Rose City.

Granpa
Granpa
2 years ago
Reply to  Xavier R.

Um , no. Although unfortunately common, peeing and pooping on the street in Portland is not socially acceptable. I know the city has become a joke, but not one that is funny

Amit Zinman
2 years ago

It would be nice if they used some of that money to provide some bike parking posts in public parks. My experience is that typically there are very few of those, sometimes none.

J_R
J_R
2 years ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

They would likely not place them in good spots so don’t spend the money on that.

Asher Atkinson
Asher Atkinson
2 years ago

The Women’s Forum overhaul looks great. All I ever I wanted was a taller drinking foundation spout to fill a large water bottle. I was concerned about tree removal for the new parking lot, but from a satellite view I can see it’s already an open field I never noticed.