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The City of Portland has undeveloped rights-of-way (ROWs) in many parts of the city that some residents are interested in turning into urban trails. Historically, many of these ROWs have been located in Southwest Portland and are identified in the Southwest Urban Trails Plan (2000). The Plan supports the City’s pedestrian transportation policy which calls for the City to complete a pedestrian network that serves short trips and transit, improves the quality of the pedestrian environment, increases pedestrian safety and convenience, encourages walking, and explores a range of funding options for pedestrian improvements.
While the Southwest Urban Trails Plan identified potential trails, it did not detail a clear process for how new trails should be proposed, permitted, built, or maintained. PBOT has put together an easy-to-follow process for community groups to propose, permit, build, and maintain trails - the Urban Trails Program!
Why are Trails Important?
PBOT has many miles of ROW throughout the City that remain undeveloped. While some of these ROWs are merely undeveloped because adjacent properties have yet to be developed, some ROWs may not be ‘fit’ for development.
Even though these ROW’s might be unreasonable for development into built-out roads, they may offer opportunities for valuable, and currently unmet, connections. Trails are a way to improve the connectivity while keeping the costs lower than what would be needed for full sidewalk or road improvements. Trails are also valuable as a way to provide a connection without altering the aesthetics or ‘place’ that a ROW may go through, whether that be through the woods or in a neighborhood that has a rural feel.
The importance of trails as a piece of Portland’s transportation system is an important part of the Comprehensive Plan, Pedestrian Master Plan, and the Regional Active Transportation Plan.
The City strives to work hand-in-hand with community members and groups to ensure that our efforts meet the needs of those we aim to serve. While many of these efforts are led by the City, there are also some that are led by community groups with the City in a support role. These sorts of efforts take advantage of community interest, knowledge, resources, and passion, while potentially keeping costs low(er) for the City and the public.
In the case of trails, SW Trails, a local non-profit organization made up of community leaders and volunteers, has been instrumental in identifying and building trails throughout Southwest Portland, many for a fraction of the cost and time than it would have been if the construction were completed by the City.
PBOT’s easy-to-follow Urban Trails Program would evaluate proposals based on;
Are you near an unimproved ROW?
Here you can find a list of Portland trail building partners who can assist your group!
Trails proces documents and notes.
Trail Building Tools and Resources
Make sure that your proposed trail meets one of these standards developed by Parks and Recreation
Information on the Urban Trails Grant Program
Step by step instructions for getting started