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Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

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Portland City Council Approves Funding for South Waterfront Greenway – Central District

 Construction to Proceed with Pathways, Overlooks, Lighting, Greenspaces

(Portland, OR) –

On Wednesday, February 05, 2014, Portland City Council unanimously passed a measure to fund Phase 2 of Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R)’s South Waterfront Greenway – Central District project. The vote steers $4.7 million in System Development Charges (SDC’s) – 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 Systems 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.

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.