Greenway trail group agrees to alignment compromise through Albina rail yards

Greenway trail group agrees to alignment compromise through Albina rail yards

“It was not easy to give up our vision of a near-river side alignment… The UPRR’s willingness to surrender more than one-half mile of active rail line within the city for a multi-purpose trail is unprecedented and offers a Greenway Trail alignment, we believe, that better serves all of north Portland.”
— Friends of the North Portland Greenway Trail

The Friends of the North Portland Greenway Trail (a.k.a. npGreenway) has decided to give up their vision for a route along the Willamette River and instead will work on a compromise alignment through the Albina Yards with the City of Portland and Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).

Back in October, a major breakthrough was forged when the City of Portland announced they had brokered a deal with UPRR to allow a path to be built along the eastern portion of the railyard. At that time however, leaders from the Friends group were skeptical and continued to push for the Cement Road.

Today, the Friends announced that they’ve agreed to give up the Cement Road and will work with UPRR and the City of Portland on the route proposed last fall which now known as the “Albina Yards alignment.”

In a letter sent to the City of Portland and UPRR, the Friends group wrote,

“It was not easy to give up our vision of a near-river side alignment on the existing private (UPRR) AshGrove Cement Road/North River St. alignment. But we are convinced that the prospects for the latter are slim to nil, while the former [the Albina Yards alignment] we expect to be expedited by our partners, City of Portland and UPRR.

The UPRR’s willingness to surrender more than one-half mile of active rail line within the city for a multi-purpose trail is unprecedented and offers a Greenway Trail alignment, we believe, that better serves all of north Portland.”

The new alignment. (Large PDF file here.)

At issue is how best to route the future bicycling and walking path through UPRR’s property between the Fremont Bridge and Swan Island. The Friends group has pushed for a riverfront route for many years; but given the heavy industrial use and private ownership of the land, it was considered a very heavy political lift. In September 2012, the City of Portland avoided the area entirely and proposed an alignment for the future path on Greeley and Interstate avenues. That proposal would have put the path adjacent to heavy motor vehicle traffic and would have used narrow bike lanes. Not surprisingly it was met with very sharp criticism.

The Friends group was also hoping for an alignment near the riverfront along the “Cement Road” — a paved path already used by many people who bike to and from Swan Island. However, according to a statement released by the Friends today, UPRR representatives made it clear that they are not willing to allow any public access on that road.

(In other North Portland Greenway Trail news, the bridge between Chimney and Pier parks in St. Johns is now open. Read more stories about this project, in the BikePortland archives.)

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly reported that PBOT would apply for a federal TIGER grant to pay for this portion of the trail. They do not plan to apply for a TIGER grant for this project in the current cycle.

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