Sneak peek at new carfree path entrance to Mt. Tabor Park

Looking south toward Division. (Photos: Jonathan Maus – BikePortland)
Mische’s plan.

On Monday, April 1st, the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau will realize a 113-year-old vision when they open a new southern entrance to Mt. Tabor Park. 

The year was 1911 when a plan for Mt. Tabor was drawn up by Emmanuel Mische, who worked for the Olmsted landscape architecture firm and went on to become superintendent of Portland Parks. Mische’s plan shows a “Maple Entrance” between what is now Southeast Division Street and SE Lincoln.

Fast forward to the Mt. Tabor Park Master Plan, which was updated in 2008, and we see a fully fleshed-out concept drawing for the path that will open next week. All that was missing was funding. When voters approved a $68 million Parks bond measure in 2014, planning for the new path began in earnest.

Mt. Tabor Park has always lacked good access from the south. For folks who live in the South Tabor neighborhood, there’s about a half-mile distance between access points from Division (at SE 60th and 68th). Not only was another entry point needed, but SE 64th — smack dab in the middle of two existing entrances — is the route of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s 60s Neighborhood Greenway, which will connect Mt. Tabor to the Springwater Corridor path and is due for construction later this summer.

On Monday I got a tour of the new path from Portland Parks Capital Project Manager Evan Callahan. We started at the corner of SE Lincoln and 64th, the northern terminus of the Mt. Tabor Maintenance Yard Project that the new path is a part of. As part of a major upgrade to this maintenance and nursey facility, Parks seized the opportunity to build the path and update SE 64th Avenue. Callahan said the path and road elements of the project cost about $1.9 million.

The path closes about a one-block gap in SE 64th Ave that used to be blocked by the maintenance facility. It’s only about 450-feet, but the impact for park users will be vast. Landscaping and construction crews were busy putting finishing touches on it yesterday and fences were up on both sides, but folks were already finding their way onto the path. It’s just such a natural and intuitive entrance. Mische was clearly onto something.

The path itself makes a slight bend between SE Division and SE Sherman. There are ample plantings on both sides and a new bridge that takes users over a large stormwater infiltration swale. There are three “art nodes” by a collective of artists that includes Adam Kuby, Stephanie Adams-Santos, Samiya Bashir, Trevino Brings Plenty, Anis Mojgani, Sam Roxas-Chua, and Dao Strom. The nodes are at both entrances and just north of the swale bridge. Each one includes a seating area, Kuby’s stones etched with poems set around a tree, and a change in paving texture (diagonal scoring that gives it the feel of a plaza). The path is also lined with lampposts that reflect the same aesthetic to existing ones in the park.

Callahan mentioned one of the challenges of the site will be keeping drivers from taking cars on the path. At the northern entrance, they initially installed just one steel bollard, but have since installed another. There will be three bollards at the southern entrance.

With the incline from Division into the park, bicycle riders and other types of rollers will need to ride with courtesy and caution in what will likely be a busy environment shared with walkers and runners. The textured pavement adjacent to the art nodes and the bollards at each entry should help with that.

The biggest concern I have with this project is how it connects to SE Division and 64th Avenue south of the park. PBOT has recently installed a marked crosswalk and temporary median (with plastic posts and curbs) that Callahan said has made an immediate difference: “This crosswalk just went in and we’re seeing people use it and our staff uses it coming into the [maintenance] yard. Even in its temporary state, we’ve seen a huge increase in people using it.”

Unfortunately for bicycle riders, the transition to the curb cut and crossing is not direct. As you come south on the new path, you’ll need to slow way down and turn left to use the crosswalk, and then move back to the right as you continue south on the greenway on 64th. That initial left turn is very tight if you stay on the paved path and sidewalk. If you cut the corner, you’ll be in decomposed granite (fine gravel).

“It’s a tight spot with this curb-tight sidewalk as well, but that conversation is ongoing in earnest with TriMet,” Callahan shared.

The good news is Parks is working with TriMet (via their Division Transit Project) and PBOT to improve the connection at Division. Callahan said PBOT plans to install bike parking staples on the curb where the path comes out (effectively stopping bike riders from just rolling into Division) and will install a “Bikes Use Crosswalk” sign. Reached for comment today, PBOT said they’re providing feedback on designs for an updated crossing at 64th and Division that’s currently planned as part of the TriMet project.

In addition to the new path, Parks has repaved and built a new sidewalk on SE 64th between SE Sherman and the main park entrance on SE Lincoln. I haven’t confirmed with PBOT yet (will update this when I hear back), but I assume they’ll add sharrow markings on that one-tenth of a mile section.

Stay tuned for a short video that will give you a better understanding of some of these issues. And remember, this isn’t officially open until this coming Monday, April 1st. Once you try it, let us know how it works for you.


View video below posted to Instagram:

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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dw
dw
20 days ago

For me personally, this will cut out one of the more stressful parts of my commute – going down 60th to get from Lincoln to Division. I’m very grateful to have this connection opening soon.

I am also glad to read that the crossing will be improved. Kept riding by there wondering why the crossing is so funky and offset.

Long term, I’d love to see that stretch of Division get fresh pavement and better bike lanes.

Jeff S
Jeff S
20 days ago
Reply to  dw

What dw said. The 60’s Greenway should be a very good route, I’ve used it for years without the planned improvements and it works fairly well. Hope that when TriMet builds the median at Division next year it’s better designed for bicyclists, the current temporary one is not so great.

Fred
Fred
20 days ago

With the incline from Division into the park, bicycle riders and other types of rollers will need to ride with courtesy and caution in what will likely be a busy environment shared with walkers and runners.

I have to say I don’t love these “sidewalk” designs. They feel very much like facilities for peds, dogs, children, hacky-sack players, etc, and cyclists are welcome to use them as long as they don’t hurt anybody.

I always wonder: Is this the best we can do? Since cycling is viewed by decision-makers as “not truly a serious way of getting around,” I guess it’s the best we’re gonna get.

I’m waiting for ODOT to develop at four-lane urban highway that parents with strollers are invited to use.

Steve C
Steve C
20 days ago

All that work to control runoff but no curb or sidewalk for the west side of the 64th. Did the property owners refuse to have a LID? Seems like the gravel will spill into the street eventually.

Sherman at 64th might need a stop if the 60th greenway is a success. I rode it the other day and it felt a bit sketchy. If a car came around the corner at the wrong time there would be very little time to react. Obviously I went slow and checked, but why create such a blind, uncontrolled situation? A stop for left turning traffic off of Sherman to 64th would be an easy fix.

maxD
maxD
20 days ago

This strikes me as complete failure by PBOT to not consider a connection for cyclists ON a greenway. Continuing to misuse bike racks to close access for pedestrians/cand cyclists is so disappointing- I am thinking of all of the crosswalks PBOT has been closing, this time it blocking access to cyclists. The obvious answer is provide a single wide curb ramp so cyclists heading north or south can proceed directly across Division. A center bollard would required to keep cars from abusing the MUP. this is the disturbing part of the story:

Callahan said PBOT plans to install bike parking staples on the curb where the path comes out (effectively stopping bike riders from just rolling into Division) and will install a “Bikes Use Crosswalk” sign.

PBOT should install a ramp to provide access not invest in infrastructure that prevents access by cyclists using a Greenway. PBOT’s priorities are 100% backwards.

GF
GF
20 days ago
Reply to  maxD

I agree..why not have the crosswalk to the sidewalk you can actually see looking south from the new path..There is a telephone pole already there to mount beg button signals from and it will act as bollard..to keep cars off..
In the Insta video, he is walking north toward the path cutting a little west of the ramp to the new path…which everyone will do.
I wonder when the first lawsuit will arrive from a person falling into the storm water ditches from the passenger side car door.
why not just have some catch basins been piped to the storm water ditch that the path bridge goes over?

Charley
Charley
20 days ago

I’m optimistic that they’ll work out a better design for that junction with Division. Putting barriers up would prevent riders from dropping off the curb onto the street (which might cause some crashes depending on the rider and their expectations). So I can see why that short term solution seems like a priority.

Chrystal
Chrystal
20 days ago

This is near my neighborhood I can foreseen a lot of use coming from this connection. I look forward to improvements, I can’t wait to check it out on the 1st!

Phil
Phil
20 days ago

Looking at some of those pictures, it’s striking how much of the new asphalt is being used for private vehicle storage.

X
X
19 days ago
Reply to  Phil

Is this a case of induced demand, or is the storage space there to make up for some other parking facility that is now closed?

Watts
Watts
17 days ago
Reply to  X

Induced demand doesn’t work over the scale of weeks.

Daivd Schaatz
Daivd Schaatz
19 days ago

Unfortunately it’s hard not to see this path becoming impassible due to illegal encampments. I’ll cite the current condition of the 205 path, the Springwater, the Esplanade and countless other MUPs around Portland that have been surrendered.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
19 days ago
Reply to  Daivd Schaatz

The homeless camps near Tabor are all near easy access to the drug pipeline that is 82nd. This spot is less appealing for that reason. And as a local resident I can say that Portland Parks and Rec does a pretty good job keeping camping out of Tabor park and connecting streets.

Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
13 days ago
Reply to  Daivd Schaatz

Springwater and the Esplanade have not been obstructed by campers any time I’ve ridden either since I moved here in 2021. I don’t ride 205 enough to know how often it gets blocked (although you’re right about 205 being unsafe), but none of the newer paths I’ve had the opportunity to ride have become obstructed either.

I ride 4-5 days per week (including my commute).

Hunnybee
Hunnybee
19 days ago

Nice path. Looking forward to checking it out. That newly repaved stretch of 64th seems quite narrow for parking to be allowed, unless it’s one-way northbound. Is it one-way?

Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
13 days ago
Reply to  Hunnybee

It’s enormous. It almost feels uncomfortable to go far enough to the left to get on the bike path (South bound) because the street is so big.

Dubs
17 days ago

This is yet another overbuilt and under-planned project. I would prefer to see the dollars spread around more; rather than these golden shovel islands of recognition, art, railings, and plantings. Many of these types of prior projects are left to degrade unattended and not used in the idealized and insulated visions of the architects and planners. Just give me safe passage in more places please without fanfare.

Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
13 days ago

I actually rode this on Monday (didn’t know that was the first day it was open!), and the biggest problem isn’t the offset crosswalk at Division, it’s the lack of traffic controls. Division has continuous traffic in both directions, and it’s simply not safe to cross Division on a bike anywhere without a traffic light. The drivers there are simply too inattentive and too selfish (as they are most places).

The Greenway on 77th has the same problem: no traffic light. For me that makes it a no-cross, because I’m never going to be in the mood to wait 10 minutes for a gap in traffic, and way too many drivers have demonstrated they are not safe to cross in front of, even (or especially) if they wave me on.

If PBOT wants feedback, here’s mine: every bike crossing on Division requires a traffic light or it’s unusable.