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Metro planner provides first look at Westside Trail section around King City

Robert Spurlock comes armed with all the details that include a new bridge across Tualatin River


The Westside Trail is an ambitious project that when completed will be 25 miles long and pass through King City, Tigard, Beaverton and Portland as well as the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District plus unincorporated portions of Washington and Multnomah counties.

Primarily following a power-transmission corridor owned or controlled by the Bonneville Power Administration and Portland General Electric, the trail will pass through highly urbanized areas with few land-acquisition costs.

On April 2, the King City City Council had an opportunity to learn more about the trail from Robert Spurlock, Metro regional trails planner, and voted 4 to 0 in favor of a resolution approving the trail master plan.

"We have a pretty significant portion of the trail - from Beef Bend Road to the Tualatin River," said King City City Manager Dave Wells before introducing Spurlock, who pointed out that to gather public input, there have been two rounds of two open houses each over the past two years, and two of them took place at Deer Creek Elementary in King City.

"The community has been very supportive," he said. "Segment one is King City, and it is entirely under the power lines and includes a bridge across the Tualatin River, which is most of the cost. Every summer we count trail users, and of all the trail segments in the region - except for the Willamette River - it is the most used.

"Tonight we are asking for your commitment - no money - but your support for the continuing partnership between King City, Metro and Tualatin."

According to the master plan, the Westside Trail segment from King City to South Beaverton will include “a new bridge over the Tualatin River near King City. Users crossing south on this bridge will connect with the future Ice Age Tonquin Trail and the Tualatin River Greenway Trail, as well as to the eastern boundary of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

"Users heading north will pass through King City and Tigard neighborhoods as well as urban unincorporated neighborhoods in Washington County. The trail over Bull Mountain will reveal spectacular views of rural Washington County to the west, and then enter Beaverton with connections to homes, schools and employment centers."

When asked about acquiring funding for the new bridge, Spurlock said Metro is going to look into federal and state grants. "In other cities, they have built trails completely with foundation grants," he added.

The trail master plan also has a component that promotes it as a wildlife corridor, according to Spurlock, noting that it is adjacent to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge "but doesn't enter it."

Councilor Malka Sekey said that while she loves animals, she wondered how the public will be made aware that off-leash dogs will not be allowed in natural areas. "How do we shout the message quietly to keep dogs out?" she asked. "Maybe with bigger signs and fines?"

Wells pointed out that there is a significant difference between natural areas and other recreation areas, and for example, there are natural areas just beyond King City Community Park with signs listing what people can and can't do there.

"Phase three will be a trail-specific plan and include signage," Wells added.

Horseback riding will be allowed on the Westside Trail, and Spurlock explained that there would be a parallel trail for horses next to the pedestrian and bike trail.

He added, "We never recommend putting trails through wetlands - we go around - and if it must go through, we put in a boardwalk."

Another issue is floodplains, with Wells pointing out, "The trail must be 150 feet up from a river floodplain."

According to the master plan, the Westside Trail will be developed in phases, and the trail's jurisdictional partners will adopt the master plan into their respective plans and policy documents.

The various entities will share construction and/or maintenance responsibility as funding becomes available, according to the master plan. Although this will be a complex process, "the two-year planning effort has demonstrated that commitment is high to see the trail fully constructed," it states.