It’s not all bad: Northern sections of North Portland Greenway worth excitement

It’s not all bad: Northern sections of North Portland Greenway worth excitement

The northern segments of the North Portland Greenway alignment being proposed by Portland Parks (green line) follows nearly the same route dreamed up by advocates (orange line).


Recent coverage and reader comments on the North Portland Greenway here on BikePortland have not been kind to the project. While I think we have good reason to be disappointed in the southern two segments of the “near term buildable” alignment being proposed by Portland Parks & Recreation, we shouldn’t overlook the exciting plans for the northern segments.

Parks planners have split the greenway alignment up into five segments. The segments take the path from way up north in Kelley Point Park (just feet from the Columbia River) all the way south to the Steel Bridge. The reason folks are upset at Parks is because, starting with Segment 4 (Swan Island), they’ve chosen to deviate from both the vision laid out by the npGreenway non-profit group and from the City’s already adopted North Reach River Plan. But for now, let’s focus on the three northernmost segments.

In Segment 1, Parks will improve the existing paved path in Kelley Point Park and then head south, across N. Marine Drive to connect to the existing portion of the 40-mile Loop trail. The route would then continue south along the Columbia Slough. After going behind a few industrial buildings, the path would slice between the slough and the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area. This will be a very picturesque place to ride! Continuing south, the path will go along the perimeter of the Metro-owned St. Johns Landfill (an old dump now converted to natural area) before crossing over N. Columbia Blvd. (And yes, Parks is considering a significant crossing improvement over Columbia.)

Segment 2 takes us from Columbia Blvd to just south of the St. Johns Bridge. South of Columbia Blvd, the route weaves through Chimney Park and Pier Park (over a soon to be built bridge) before heading through residential neighborhoods in St. Johns. Sharrows will be added to N. Central and Reno avenues and the route will head west use the existing signalized crossing of N. Lombard. The route then turns south at Baltimore Woods to make the connection to the bridge.

Onward to Segment 3 and we finally get the path along the Willamette River. The path winds south through several old industrial sites and adjacent to railroad tracks before coming to University of Portland-owned land and the base of Waud Bluff. The path will be 14-feet in most parts of this segment (18-feet if you count the two-foot curbs). The base of bluff (the point on which U of P sits) is narrow so the current plan calls for an elevated, 12-foot wide path with railings built directly into the river. From the bluff, the route would connect onto Basin Avenue on Swan Island.

After Segment 3 we’re onto Swan Island and that’s where the problems start. We’ve covered those section of the route in the past, so I won’t repeat it here today. For more on this project and to see PDFs of all the graphics used in this post, see the City’s North Portland Greenway Trail project page. The official comment period for the alignment feasibility project ended yesterday, but you can still contact project manager Emily Roth with questions and feedback via emily.roth@portlandoregon.gov.

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