Planned Sullivan's Gulch bike path has a glitch: No money

Planned Sullivan's Gulch bike path has a glitch: No money

PORTLAND, Ore. – For 25 years supporters of building a bike and pedestrian trail next to the railroad tracks off Interstate 84 have talked about the idea, and Wednesday the City Council agreed to the plan.

There's just one catch: There’s no money set aside to pay for it.

The vision for a 5.5 mile Sullivan's Gulch trail may never materialize, but supporters of the plan to connect 14 neighborhoods from the Gateway area to the Eastbank Esplanade are moving forward with folks like bicyclist Joy Hansford in mind.

"A lot of people are very nervous about riding around the traffic and most of us that ride very much know somebody who has been hit by a car," she said. "I think it's a great idea. You could go quite a distance without having to deal with all the cars."

While pedaling home from the Hollywood District, Hansford said she tries to avoid busy streets and stick to paths, like the proposed trail.

If built as proposed it would sit about 20 to 25 feet away from the railroad tracks off I-84.

But enthusiasm for the project isn't enough to build it. The project's estimated cost of $36 million doesn't include the millions more to buy up property around the tracks.

The plan is far from a done deal. Aside from questions about costs, there are concerns about noise, air pollution and whether riders really want to spend their time right next to the freeway.

"It wouldn't bother me a bit," said Paul Thomas, who rides his bike every day. "Riding on the streets doesn't really bother me. I'd probably still opt to do that, but for people who get a little nervous around traffic I think it would be great for them."

Hansford said, "It's not great being right next to the freeway, but if you don't have traffic that's a biggie."

The city does not have a timetable for completing the trail. But it is part of Portland's 2030 bike plan, and the city has applied for a little less than $2 million in state funding to get started.

Below is the proposed path of the bike trail.