SW Trails has been successful in getting things done: either by direct volunteer action or by working to get the Portland city government to focus on trails projects.
Our ongoing work includes: conducting volunteer-led, monthly walks around SW Portland, hosting work parties to build and repair trails in the SWTrails network; working with city government to advocate for safer trails, crossings, road shoulders and sidewalks throughout SW Portland.
SW Trails has had an impact on the neighborhood. For example, one family chose a house because of SW Trails.
Bridlemile Walkway (Fall, 2018)
Bridlemile neighbors and SW Trails volunteers finished the walkway –part of SW Trails #1—turning “the fifty-year-old muddy, rutted, weed-choked bumpy, pot-holed path that connects SW Julia Ct to Shattuck Rd into a clean, raised, smooth, hard surface built in compliance with Portland Parks & Recreation Trail Design Guidelines.”(SW News) The project took 22 volunteers, under the guidance of veteran SW Trails builders, four weeks to create the wood ramps and raised turnpike that will make walking for everyone, including those with altered mobility and mobility devices, much easier. This part of Trail #1 connects residential areas with a commercial area, a school and a park. The project was funded by PBOT’s Portland in the Streets Community Grant program and was sponsored by SW Neighborhoods and the Bridlemile Neighborhood Association.
Seymour Court (Fall, 2018)
47 new box steps set in gravel negotiate a 40-foot rise and complete the new Seymour Court trail. This relatively short but very important 130-foot-trail connects the Willamette Greenway trail and the South Portland neighborhood to Barbur and Terwilliger Boulevards, thus the Homestead and Hillsdale neighborhoods, via the Corbett Street bridge over I-5. This new set of steps and trail replaces a steep and muddy informal pathway leading to the southeast end of the Corbett bridge (which has a sidewalk). It’s a spiffy new route between Macadam and Barbur in an area in need of more pedestrian connections across I-5, and was conceived of by the residents of SW Seymour Court, who also helped with design and implementation of the trail—with lots of technical and construction assistance of SW Trails volunteers.
Funding for the project came from a grant from SW Neighborhoods Inc (SWNI), and is a partnership between the South Portland Neighborhood Association and SW Trails.
Re-graveling Capitol Highway (October 2017)
SWTrails volunteers and neighbors distributed nearly 12 cubic yards of gravel, pulled weeds and widened the trail along the east side of Capitol Highway, between Taylors Ferry Road and Garden Home Road, making a wider, safer walkway to replace the muddy and narrow path. The gravel came from the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Fixing Our Streets program; SWTrails and neighbors provided shovels, wheelbarrows and hard work.
Larger projects which often took years of effort to bring about:
Marked trail routes throughout SW Portland
These 90 steps traverse a steep ravine connecting the lighted crossing at Beaverton Hillsdale Highway–SW 25th (the street up to Robert Gray Middle School) and SW Bertha St. After years of lobbying, fundraising, preparation and 325 hours of volunteer work by SW Trails Advocate Don Baack, volunteers for SW Trails, neighbors and trail users, the Bertha Steps were finished in February of 2018 (final cost: $22,000). The Bertha trail (coming down from the SW 25th Trail, a project SW Trails is also sponsoring) has been designated one of Portland’s Safe Routes to School, as it allows children attending Robert Gray to walk safely to and from school from neighborhoods across Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, including the Stephens Creek Crossing housing complex, without having to go significantly out of their way, along dangerously high-traffic road shoulders or on muddy, difficult trails. These beautifully-built new steps also let congregants at the Neveh Shalom synagogue, the Portland Christian Center and the Japanese Fellowship Church walk to these buildings more easily, and offer neighbors walking their dogs to the Hillsdale Park off-leash area or just taking a hike to Hillsdale a quicker and safer route.
Steps Looking North:
Steps Looking South:
A most spectacular journey through SW Portland on the 4 T’s: Trail, Tram, Trolley and Train.
A path, stairs, and boardwalk across the Stephens Creek natural area.
SW trails lobbied the state legislature to change the law: Portland land owners are now immune from liability for injuries to pedestrians on trails adjacent to their property. So are nonprofit volunteer organizations like SW Trails who build the trails.
SW Trails over the years.
The following is a partial list of projects that have been accomplished by SW Trails. We became a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization in 2013.
- Developed the neighborhood walkway map in 1998 with the input of all 17 SW neighborhoods including SWHRL which was not a part of SWNI at the time. This map showed for each neighborhood where people want to walk.
- Successfully prevented the vacation of a number of unbuilt rights of way where they could be used as current or future trails.
- Developed the SW Urban Trails Plan of about 40 miles of linear trails in SW Portland connecting key activity centers like town centers and main streets with schools, parks viewpoints along walkable streets.
- Designed, with PBOT, the sign layout for the SWTrails signs to mark the 7 linear trails in SW Portland.
- Did the field engineering for the location of the signs along 6 of the 7 SWTrail routes. Trail number 2, the Red Electric, is still in the process of being developed.
- Organized and led 30 to 40 major projects to develop key connections along the SWTrails routes and on other important pedestrian connections on unbuilt rights of way and within parks. An estimated 200 to 300 volunteers have been involved in these efforts across SW Portland. Among the larger projects were
- the Raz Baack Crossing of Stephens Creek,
- the 70 plus stairs under the Terwilliger northbound on ramp to I-5,
- trails in Woods, Dickinson and Marquam Parks,
- the Buhler Cutoff from Barbur to Terwilliger and many other key connections.
- Built 600 plus steps and over 2 miles of trails in the course of doing the above projects.
- Led the effort to develop the SW part of the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan which was adopted by City Council in 2009.
- Led the effort to develop the SW Walking map and contracted with PBOT to provide valuable local knowledge of the thousands of connections and cut-throughs that exist in SW Portland. The first walking map was published in 2003, and there have been 5 revisions since the original map was published.
- Organized and led monthly hikes throughout SW Portland beginning in 2000 and continue today. Many hundreds of people have taken advantage of these hikes to see parts of SW Portland they would otherwise never see.
- Lobbied for safe crossing of many streets, most recently to secure the soon to be installed crosswalk improvements at 4900 SW Barbur.
- Supported the effort to develop, sign and improve the 4T trail being led by Don Baack and Bruce Murray.
- Brought focus on the poor infrastructure on Barbur, most recently focusing attention on the need to improve several Barbur Bridges, especially the Newbury and Vermont structures which are very narrow and do not have bicycle paths on them.
- Led the effort to obtain funding for the Red Electric Planning effort and for the funding for the bridge in Hillsdale soon to be designed.
- Developed the SWNI Policy for Safe Routes to school, lobbied for standard and non standard street and trail improvements to make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to school. In some cases constructing trail connections to make it safer for children to walk to school.
- Worked with The City of Portland and Metro to raise awareness of the transportation needs of SW Portland where 46 percent of our arterials do not have sidewalks and only 15% of our streets have sidewalks.
- Worked with several city bureaus to address vegetation management issues along our streets, sidewalks and trails.
- Worked with the City of Portland and the Oregon State Legislature to pass the trails liability in the 2011 legislature to expand the liability exemption to include all uses of the trails, and to provide liability protection for volunteers working to improve the trails on city rights of way.
- Worked with city government to put extended shoulders on Maplewood Road and Capitol Hill Road.