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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

South Waterfront Greenway

Develop and implement a refinement plan for the Central District section of the South Waterfront Greenway

Project Partners
Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland Development Commission

Project Managers
Allison Rouse, PP&R, 503-823-5598
Irene Bowers, PDC, 503-823-2419

Project Background
The South Waterfront Greenway Development Plan, accepted by City Council in 2004, provided a vision and concept plan for the entire South Waterfront Greenway. The Greenway, which stretches from the Marquam Bridge south to the River Forum Building, will strive to balance the needs of the public and the health of the Willamette River.

The City of Portland's South Waterfront Plan envisioned a system of parks working together to enliven the neighborhood, stimulate development activity in the area, and to provide for the recreational needs of area residents. These projects are important because they set the tone for the quality of open space in the district. For many years now, PP&R has been looking at how to implement the design that the City and the community developed for the Central District portion of the Greenway.

Environmental Requirements: At the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Oregon Division of State Lands (DSL) and the  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the design for the riverbank restoration includes habitat in the form of a shallow water bench that will provide shelter for juvenile fish and adjacent riparian plantings. Working jointly with the  Corps of Engineers, Oregon DSL, NMFS, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the City’s Bureau of Environmental Services, a hybrid concept was developed in summer 2010 that met public and agency needs.

Permitting: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued their Joint Permit for the construction in June 2012, after 20 months of review. This permit incorporated the approvals of all of the other State and Federal agencies. Local permits were also received in June 2012, allowing the project move into construction after nearly 10 years of planning and design. 


March 3, 2014

Public Meeting
Thanks to everyone who attended the community meeting held at Umpqua Bank on January 15. At this meeting we shared with close to 100 neighbors the likelihood of continuing construction. Additionally, we were able to share information on the impacts of the continued work and the benefits (financially and logistically) of continuing through without having to demobilize the construction site. 

We are very pleased that we have been able to work out an agreement with J.W. Fowler Company, our contractors on Phase 1, to complete Phase 2. Their experience and knowledge of the site will help ensure a more seamless transition. Site preparation will begin the week of March 10.

Phase 2 of the construction work will include grading the site, building a new retaining wall west of the swale, building the overlooks, paving the dual system paths and small plazas, and installing irrigation and planting. At the end of construction, the park will include pathways, river overlooks, small plazas, seating, lighting, trees, plantings, lawn, and public art.

We expect to complete major construction in November 2014. The lawn grasses will be seeded during the fall and will be left to grow and get established through spring 2015. Construction fences will be removed once the lawns are sturdy enough to withstand public use. We will, however, provide access to the ramp down to the river at SW Whitaker.

The fencing on site will be more extensive than during Phase 1. In late March, fencing will go up around the entire site between the north property line at Zidell Marine and south to the SW Lane Street right-of-way. The thin lawn area, previously accessible at the base of the Atwater, will be part of the construction area to be improved. Additionally, the area riverward of Block 37 will be fenced. We encourage residents to respect the need to keep the public out of the construction area. 

Tree Removal
At the time the swale was installed, it was planted with trees. In order to install the path system in this area, some of those trees nearest to Block 37 will be removed.  All of the trees removed will be replaced within the Central District.

February 5, 2014

On Wednesday, February 5, Portland City Council unanimously passed a measure to fund Phase 2 of Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R)’s South Waterfront Greenway project. The vote steers $4.7 million in System Development Charges (SDCs) revenue from construction development in the city to the South Waterfront Greenway Central District for construction of a park, which will contain river overlooks, bike and pedestrian pathways, lighting and seating, trees, lawns, and plantings.

“The South Waterfront Greenway is a significant investment for the City of Portland,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Not only is it a way to connect to nature in the heart of our city, it is a vital link for commuters, an improvement for our quality of life, and a promise kept to the people of Portland living in what will be the state’s most densely populated neighborhood.”

The South Waterfront Greenway is a 1.2-mile long strip of parks and riverbank restoration that, when completed, will make an important bike and pedestrian connection between Downtown Portland and the Sellwood Bridge. Design and permitting work began 12 years ago, and construction of the Central District segment, which runs between SW Gibbs and SW Lane streets, has been underway since 2012.

“It is no easy feat to fit fish habitat creation, riverbank reconstruction, and an urban park into a 100-foot-wide strip of land,” notes PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. “But this project accomplishes this and more. This commitment by City Council is welcomed by PP&R and neighbors. The South Waterfront Greenway will become another landmark recreation facility for all Portlanders.”

The total cost of the Greenway’s Phase 2 is estimated at $4.7 million. The contractor, JW Fowler Company, expects to begin preliminary tasks immediately, with heavy construction getting underway in early April. Work is expected to be complete by November 2014.

Phase 1 of the project, in partnership with TriMet, restored the riverbank to a more natural vegetation condition and installed a shallow water refuge important for juvenile salmon. TriMet joined the project because the shallow water habitat mitigates for construction impacts to the river associated with their new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge.

Because the entire site is composed of landfill from former industrial activities, the Phase 1 earthwork and construction was conducted under the close observation of and collaboration with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Division of State Lands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Services. The total cost of Phase 1 is estimated at $10,798,100.

The project is funded by a variety of sources: $9.26 million of Parks System Development Charges, $4 million of Tax Increment Funding from the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area, $1.42 million from TriMet, $750,000 in Environmental Remediation funding from the City’s Bureau of Environmental Services, and $68,000 in miscellaneous PPR funding.

November 11, 2013

Phase 1 heavy construction is nearly complete. All that remains is installation of the safety railings at the top of the retaining walls, some planting and site clean-up, and installation of the final site fencing.

Work Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:00 AM-7:00 PM 

Fencing: As we have been emphasizing in our updates for the past year, the fencing will need to stay up until the lawns have grown in enough to withstand typical park foot traffic and maintenance activities. This is expected to be late next spring (approximately June 2014) based on normal growing conditions. In the meantime, we received a request from the Nature and Greenspaces Committee to try to find a way to configure the fencing so that folks could get to the river access ramp. We are glad to say that a route through is available. Click on image below for larger view.

Post-construction fence lines

October 7, 2013

Phase 1 work is going well and the construction is still on schedule. JW Fowler has finished the shallow water habitat and is working on the river access ramp, the last gabion wall, and site clean-up. Crews also continue to work on the irrigation system, after which planting can begin. We still expect to conclude heavy construction in December. Photos: left, the end of the river access ramp in lower water conditions; right, the ramp when the water is higher

SW Greenway   SW Greenway

September 23, 2013

Phase 1 work is going well and the construction is currently on schedule. JW Fowler is nearly finished with the shallow water habitat; they should finish it this week then move to the southern rip rap bank. Crews also continue to work on the irrigation system, after which planting can begin. We still expect to conclude heavy construction in December. Photo: looking north; upper left: Curry St sheetpile wall, center: vault wall with willows, right: shallow water habitat and yellow sediment curtains

Looking north

September 3, 2013

Phase 1 work is going well and the construction is currently on schedule. We still expect to conclude heavy construction in December. During low water, JW Fowler continues to work on the shallow water habitat, which they are sequencing to occur during low tides. At higher elevations, soil and irrigation are being placed to be ready for planting the riparian habitat later this fall. Photo: looking south, Curry St sheetpile wall

Curry St sheetpile wall

Funding to complete Phase 1 was approved by City Council the last week of June 2013. At the end of construction this season, we anticipate the completion of all the bank stabilization work (three types of walls - gabion, sheet pile, and vault), removal of contaminated soils, the construction of a shallow water habitat for fish, a path providing water access, native plantings, and a restored upland area with benches, a pathway, and grass.  

The Greenway Project phasing was introduced to the South Waterfront Community on March 21, 2012 at a Nature and Green Spaces Committee meeting. Phase 1 is the Riverbank Restoration which includes removal of contaminated soil, installation of retaining walls, riparian habitat, and the osprey pole, plus repair of areas of the site that were damaged during construction. Phase 2 includes the Upland Park, with pedestrian and bicycle paths, seating, lighting, lawns, and the public art piece. Portland Parks & Recreation remains committed to completion of this project. No features of the project are expected to be changed or eliminated as a result of the phasing.

Contact Us
We know that construction is inconvenient, messy, and sometimes dangerous. By providing accurate and timely information, we will do our best to let you know what to expect.

Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong


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