Someday, the Tonquin Trail will wind its way through urban and rural landscapes in the southwestern part of the Portland metropolitan area, providing new ways for people to travel to work, shopping, schools, nature and more.
The trail took an important step toward becoming a reality in September, when the Tonquin Trail Project Steering Committee recommended an alignment that was embraced enthusiastically by elected officials from the jurisdictions along the trail’s route.
The committee’s decision advances a vision that unified Metro staff, partner jurisdictions and citizen representatives in 2009, when the planning process kicked off. Partners envision a 22-mile multi-use path that will connect the Willamette and Tualatin rivers and the cities of Wilsonville, Sherwood and Tualatin with safe pedestrian and bicycle connections.
“The master planning process illustrates how teamwork and public input can help achieve consensus,” said committee member Michelle Miller. As a representative from Sherwood, Miller said, she’s thrilled that the trail will include a special section called the Cedar Creek Greenway, which will trace its namesake creek between Stella Olsen Memorial Park and the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.
The committee’s recommendation was informed by a thorough technical analysis of alignment options and extensive public outreach and involvement. Approximately 35,000 people were notified about opportunities to weigh in on the project, and more than 1,000 shared their ideas and suggestions for the trail route.
As part of the regional trail network, the Tonquin Trail will connect to the Westside Trail and the Fanno Creek Trail. There may also be a connection to Champoeg State Heritage Area, if the proposed French Prairie Bridge is built over the Willamette River in Wilsonville.
Regional trails promote exercise and recreation and keep dollars in the local economy by giving people safe ways to make short trips between residential and commercial areas within their community. Studies have also shown that businesses are investing in locations accessible by trails to entice employees to work for them.
The Tonquin Trail Master Plan is expected to be complete in spring 2012. When the plan is finished, partner jurisdictions will be asked to formally adopt it. A final round of public involvement will be conducted this winter to share the preferred alignment and trail design ideas with citizens.