Washington County hit it big in the latest round of nearly $1 billion in funding announced today by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program. The Council Creek Regional Trail project has been awarded $12.2 million to build a six-mile multi-use path between Hillsboro and Forest Grove. That leaves the county just $4.3 million short of the total estimated project cost.
As we reported back in March this project would open up a safe travel option for people who want to avoid nearby TV-Highway (Tualatin-Valley Highway/Hwy 8), which is one of the deadliest corridors in the state.
“This grant will provide a climate-friendly, healthy way to get to work or school, run errands, connect to MAX or get some exercise,” said Washington County District 4 Commissioner Jerry Willey in a statement today. “These funds will help make the communities’ vision for this trail a reality. Thanks to our congressional delegation for their ongoing advocacy to provide these resources into the future.”
Project officials have estimated the project could be built in the next five years; and that was before hearing about this $12.2 million cash infusion. There’s still no official timeline yet however, because the remaining $4.3 million in funding has not been identified.
The path project has been 10 years in the making and already has a Master Plan that was completed in 2015. It would capitalize on railroad right-of-way* and connect to existing MAX light rail service that ends in Hillsboro. Once completed, you could hop on MAX in downtown Portland with your bike, get off in Hillsboro, and pedal six miles for a pint and a meal at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. And the ultimate plan to connect this to the existing Banks-Vernonia, which opens up tons of exciting possibilities.
The fact that USDOT awarded this project bodes very well for the upcoming discretionary funding programs that are soon to come from Sec. Buttigieg via the Biden infrastructure package.
This was one of two Oregon projects to make the cut of this round of 90 RAISE grants given out nationwide. The other was a $19 million award to rebuild Franklin Street — a major arterial that connects Eugene to Springfield — into a “complete street”.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) applied for three RAISE grants: a $5 million project to add bike lanes, sidewalks and transit stops to a section of Highway 99 in Medford; a $20 million project to expand EV charging infrastructure into rural, low-income areas; and a $9.8 million project that would have built a new carfree bridge adjacent to Highway 101 over the Coquille River near Bandon.
CORRECTION, 11/24 at 11:49 am: This story originally said the railroad right of way has been abandoned. That was incorrect. Portland & Western Railroad advertised intent to do so in late 2019 and early 2020, but have not followed through with the necessary document filing with the federal Surface Transportation Board. So the line is still considered “active” and part of the national rail system. Stay tuned for more on this issue.