Trail extension will improve public safety, make commuting easier and bolster outdoor recreation
Runners, walkers and cyclists needn’t scrutinize trail plans to name the region’s most notorious missing piece: the Sellwood Gap, which forces people off the Springwater Corridor for a mile in its namesake neighborhood in Southeast Portland.
That gap will shrink dramatically, thanks to an agreement reached this week by Metro and the Oregon Pacific Railroad Co. More than half a mile of trail will be built alongside the train tracks the company operates, allowing commuters and outdoor enthusiasts to take the trail between Southeast Umatilla Street and Southeast 13th Avenue.
“By definition, trails connect places,” said Acting Metro Council President Carlotta Collette. “But they also connect many of the issues that Metro tackles, from health and safety to land-use and transportation. Closing more than half the Sellwood Gap is a prime example, improving public safety and inspiring people to get out and exercise.”
Metro will work with the City of Portland to arrange design and construction for this section of the Springwater, which is one of the Portland metropolitan area’s signature trails. If the Sellwood Gap is fully closed, visitors will be able to traverse 20 miles from central Portland through Milwaukie and Gresham to Boring without having to use public streets.
The Springwater Corridor is one of 27 focal points of Metro’s voter-approved 2006 natural areas bond measure, which is designed to protect water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities for future generations – and one of several so-called “target areas” that highlight trails. Metro has also made progress this year on the Fanno Creek Greenway in Tigard, the Marine Drive Trail near the Portland-Gresham border and the Willamette River Greenway in North Portland.
“Closing trail gaps typically involves small pieces of property, but it makes a huge impact on neighborhoods across the region,” said Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, who represents portions of Southeast, Southwest and Northeast Portland in District 6. “The extension of the Springwater Corridor will be felt right away by residents of the Sellwood neighborhood and the thousands of people who use the Springwater Corridor.”
Metro’s agreement with Oregon Pacific, which was finalized Tuesday for about $618,000, also included the sale of a 5,000-square-foot property in the Sellwood area. The land did not further Metro’s natural area goals, and its sale to Oregon Pacific helped secure the rights to extend the Springwater Corridor.