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Fanno Creek re-alignment set for 2017

Fanno Creek is about to get a facelift, and afterward, it will look decades younger. TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Fanno Creek will have its course changed through downtown Tigard in 2017, a change that planners say will restore the creek to its original path through town.

Designers are currently planning to change the course of Fanno Creek through a portion of downtown Tigard, which planners say will restore the creek to its original path through town.

“We’re getting some erosion issues,” said Andy Newbury, a project manager in the city’s Public Works department as he toured the property.

Bright orange plastic fencing warns walkers along a path to steer clear of an area where the paved path has started to crumble away.

“Before, this used to meander and slide around and then connect to where the stream is now,” he said.

The section to be “re-meandered” runs through downtown, between Southwest Main Street and Tigard City Hall.

The creek will be diverted away from a local walking path, which has eroded in spots over the years, before coming back together near Ash Avenue Bridge.

Straightening creeks was common practice 50 years ago, Newbury said.

Sewer lines were often run in local creeks, but when creeks meandered, it was often more convenient — and cheaper — to straighten the creek in order to install the line.

That’s what happened to Fanno Creek on its path through downtown Tigard, Newbury said.

Straightening the creek made it shorter and faster, Newbury said, which has contributed to erosion problems.

“Before, it was a lot longer,” Newbury said. “When it’s shorter like this, we get more velocity. The longer it is, the slower (it is) because we have a longer distance to make the elevation changes, which changes the velocity of your water.”

Crews also plan to bring in more native plants along the creek to keep the water cool. The plants’ roots will also help fight erosion.

The roughly $2 million project will be paid for by the city and Clean Water Services, the city’s sewer agency.

Work is expected to begin next year and likely won’t finish until 2018.