Paved trail is part of planned 10-mile 'backbone' to span district

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Westside Regional Trail has added 1.5 miles of paved trail to its planned 10-mile-long route.A year-long, $4.1 million project to expand a 1.5-mile paved section of the Westside Regional Trail over Mount Williams is open for pedestrians, bicylists and joggers to enjoy.

Funded by the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District’s $100 million bond measure district voters approved in 2008, the new segment extends north from Tigard city limits at Barrows Road to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park and the MAX light-rail station at Merlo Road in Beaverton. Pedestrians, bicyclists and runners now have 6 mostly continuous miles of regional trail in the southern half of the district.

“It opens up a lot of recreational opportunities,” said Gery Keck, the district’s project manager. “It connects Progress Lake and the Tualatin Hills Nature Park — two of our jewels — and provides a nice continuous stretch of trail for people who want to exercise, walk the dog, or enjoy a non-motorized commute.”

The project encompasses three newly completed trail segments that took longer than expected to finish because of construction challenges, including the need to protect sensitive wetlands, Keck noted. The new segment over Mount Williams was particularly imposing because of steep inclines, trees and a gas line that required what he called “some ingenuity” to work around. The result is a 40-foot bridge that briefly pulls the trail off the TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Residents are using the recently completed Westside Regional Trail in Beaverton that winds its way over Mount Williams.

“You see this bridge with grass underneath it, and it’s barely off the ground,” he said. “It looks like a bridge over nothing, but it makes more sense if you know why it’s there.”

Completion of the Westside Trail project represents another milestone in the district’s efforts to create a mostly continuous 10-mile north-south “backbone” running through the district from Barrows Road to the Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus. Scheduled for completion in January 2016, the backbone trail will link a segment of the Waterhouse Trail and a segment connecting the Waterhouse Trail to the Westside Trail.

“People have been wanting on the trail since we started digging,” Keck said of the recently completed project. “I’ve been out there every week for more than a year, and every time I’m out, people ask when it will open or stop to say, ‘Thank you.’”

Last fall, several residents in the Burntwood neighborhood around Southwest 160th Avenue, whose yards back up to the Westside Trail corridor, were displeased when park district officials informed them their various fences, gardens, storage sheds, woodpiles and debris encroaching on the district’s corridor — some of it for decades — had to be removed. Several residents were unaware that the district — rather than Bonneville Power Co., whose officials they said granted them unofficial use of the right of way — has owned 125 feet on the corridor’s west side and 20 feet on its east flank since 1989.

“Some residents seem to think that just because they’ve been using the property for a long time makes it theirs, but it doesn’t,” said district spokesman Bob Wayt in October 2012. “The land belongs to the public.”

For more information about the trails and other bond-funded projects, visit or call TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Improvements to the Westside Regional Trail include a pavement surface and a bridge.

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