UPDATED 9/22/2011

Portland’s Parks and Recreation Bureau is expected to submit the final design for the Waud Bluff Path to the Oregon Department of Transportation on March 31, marking a pivotal point in the six-year-long effort to develop the Waud Bluff Path.

The Waud Bluff Path is an undeveloped quarter-mile path connecting N. Willamette Boulevard by the University of Portland to North Basin Avenue on Swan Island. It is currently an unpaved, abandoned road. At one point, the path crosses a railroad. There are no stop signs or other safety measures near the rail crossing. The trail also encounters a steep grade in places, and the path gets washed out in places during the winter. Neighbors and advocates say these problems make the path unsafe for the people who use it.

Lenny Anderson, the director of the Swan Island Transportation Management Association, has been heavily involved in the project since it was first discussed six years ago. He says the path is frequently used by people who work at Swan Island, University of Portland students, and people living in the St. Johns, Overlook, Arbor Lodge, and University Park neighborhoods.

“It’s a key access point,” Anderson says. “The project is going to make it an all-weather, year-round, safe facility.”

Wad Bluff connects N Willamette Boulevard and N Basin Avenue.
Waud Bluff connects N Willamette Boulevard and N Basin Avenue.
 

George Lozovoy, who manages the Waud Bluff project at the Parks Bureau, says the bureau is currently negotiating with the Port of Portland to buy a small parcel of land near the section of railroad that the path crosses. Until that sale is complete, construction cannot begin. He says the sale is expected to be final in April.

An open bid process for a contractor will begin in early May, and construction will begin in June at the earliest.

The path will be built in three phases. The 10-foot-wide path will be paved, a 100-foot-long bridge will be built across the railroad tracks, along with stairs to access the bridge, and native trees, shrubs, and other plants will be planted to restore the area.

Jonathan Maus, the editor of Bikeportland.org, describes the Waud Bluff Path as “essential.” He says there are few bike routes connecting north and northeast Portland to the rest of the city that are safe. “The network just isn’t as mature up there,” he says. “Any connection down to Swan Island is super, super important.”

At the same time, Maus says, the rates of bike use in that area “is really increasing.”

The Waud Bluff Path is also considered a crucial step in further developing bike paths and trails in north and northeast Portland as part of the North Portland Greenway. The Greenway will be an intensive system of trails connecting the Eastbank Esplanade and the Rose Quarter to areas in north and northeast Portland, including the Swan Island Industrial Park, University of Portland, Cathedral Park, Bybee Lake, Smith lake, and eventually to Kelley Point Park (the meeting point of the Willamette River and Columbia River).

UPDATE 9/22/2011: "Waud Bluff Trail Construction Begins in North Portland"
By Cassandra Koslen, NeighborhoodNotes.com