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If approved, pathway would connect Foothills Park to the Tryon Creek State Natural Area

PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO - The area outlined in red on the map is the proposed trail project's study area within Tryon Cove Park.An upcoming Open House will give Lake Oswego residents a chance to weigh in on a proposal that would link the Tryon Creek State Natural Area to Foothills Park along the Willamette River.

The plan centers on closing a short but critical gap between the two areas by building a trail through Tryon Cove Park. The trail would connect with the existing riverside pathway through Foothills Park, linking it to a trail that starts at the intersection of Highway 43 and Terwilliger Boulevard and continues into the Tryon Creek Natural Area.

The project is in its very early stages; a Project Advisory Committee convened its first meeting in May, and the Open House on July 19 will only be the first round of community outreach.

"It was strictly a first-time meeting (in May), looking at the feasibility of it," said Lake Oswego City Councilor Jeff Gudman, who is one of the PAC members. "It was strictly looking at options."

The PAC includes a mix of residents, staff and elected officials representing Lake Oswego, Portland, Metro and Native American tribes. The group plans to reconvene July 31 to discuss the findings from the Open House.

Tryon Cove Park is located in an isolated area immediately north of the Foothills district. It's separated from Foothills by Tryon Creek, and boxed in on all sides by the creek, the river and a railroad track that parallels Highway 43 out of Lake Oswego and then curves out toward a bridge over the river.

The project has been in the City of Lake Oswego's Trails and Pathways Master Plan since 2003, and it was added to Metro's Regional Trails System Plan and Regional Transportation Plan in 2014. The two agencies are collaborating on the project.

The northern portion of the Cove is private property with housing, but the southern half is mostly undeveloped and divided into a series of parcels that are owned by either Metro, Portland or Lake Oswego, which means the path can be built entirely on existing public land.

But that doesn't mean the project is easy or simple. The pathway doesn't have a proposed alignment through Tryon Cove Park yet. And no matter where it's eventually located, the connection to Foothills Park will require a new pedestrian bridge over Tryon Creek.

At the other end of the new trail, the connection to the Tryon Creek Natural Area will have to cross two railroad tracks and four lanes of high-speed traffic on Highway 43. The two connections are the primary focus of the PAC and the Open House.

"This project scope is limited to just determining the feasibility and setting up a recommendation for how to cross Tryon Creek (and) how to connect to the Tryon Creek State Natural Area," said Rod Wojtanik, Metro's parks and nature planning manager.

According to Gudman, the first PAC meeting looked at three options for the location of a bridge across Tryon Creek: one at the mouth of the creek near the Willamette River; one near the current site of the Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant; and one at the western end of Foothills, near an existing Public Storage facility.

The geography of the area limits the location of the Highway 43 crossing to somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection with Terwilliger, so Gudman said the options for that connection focused on different types of crossing methods that the project could employ.

One option would be to have the pathway go through a large culvert under the railroad tracks and Highway 43, Gudman said. That option might involve coordinating with an upcoming U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that will replace the existing concrete box culvert that carries Tryon Creek under the highway.

The Army Corps project is being undertaken in order to restore access to Tryon Creek for salmon populations, which are unable to pass through the box culvert. The proposed replacement would be a much larger arch culvert that would have no "floor," enabling the creek to flow through on a natural bed. The new culvert could potentially be built large enough to accomodate a pedestrian path next to the creek, Gudman said.

The other two options for the Cove connection are to either build a pedestrian bridge over the tracks and highway, or to add an at-grade crossing with a stoplight on Highway 43, possibly at the intersection with Terwilliger.

In addition to creating a recommendation for the best crossing options, Gudman said the PAC's goal is to evaluate the trail's overall feasibility and create a project master plan, which would hopefully be completed in the Spring of 2019 and submitted to the Lake Oswego, Portland and Metro councils for approval.

But finishing the plan wouldn't guarantee that the project happens. According to Wojtanik, the master plan would only get the project to an approximate 10 percent design level, and there's no funding in place to take it any further.

"There unfortunately is no design, engineering or construction money identified at this time, so this effort would just look at that feasibility study," he said. "Obviously at this point, we don't have any timeline for when that trail would start."

Potential funding sources would be identified in the master plan, Wojtanik said, but the funding would still have to be secured at a later date. For the moment, the upcoming Open House will simply focus on the trail connection possibilities.

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Public Open House for the Tryon Creek Cove Trail project

WHEN: Thursday, July 19, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, 505 G Ave.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/tryon-creek-cove-trail-connection

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