Grant Inspires Park to Park Walkway
Recent grant awards have set the stage for a new Sellwood Park to Westmoreland Park Walkway. The walkway represents a pedestrian friendly route to travel east to west from one park to the other. The $131,000 awarded by 1% Green Streets and The Community Benefit Opportunity will allow pedestrians to cross two of the three most dangerous intersections facing pedestrians walking from one park to the other. Now more that ever the community has come together too support the completion of the remaining intersection improvement needed to complete the walkway. Their proposal would not only complete the walkway but improve Westmoreland Park, help restore Crystal Springs Creek and calm traffic on a notoriously dangerous intersection.
The past decade has seen a dramatic rise in the number of young families in the Sellwood/Westmoreland neighborhood. Six Sellwood Playgroups now exist and Llewellyn Elementary School’s Kindergarten enrollment has more than doubled. Parents are pushing strollers, walking with toddlers and walking alongside preschoolers riding bikes to access Westmoreland Park and Sellwood Park. In crossing Sellwood/Westmoreland, neighbors take advantage of the crossings already in place and brave the busy roads that lack safe crossings.
When it comes to crossing from Westmoreland Park to Sellwood Park, pedestrians commonly travel on Lambert Street and Bidwell Streets to make the most direct and safe path. This route begins at the south end of the Westmoreland Park path heading west along Lambert Street and jogs south a half a block at Milwaukie Ave and continues west on Bidwell Street. Bidwell Street allows pedestrians to take advantage of two marked crossings. The first is at 13th Avenue at the library and the second is at 7th Avenue at Sellwood Park. This Lambert/Bidwell street combination has become the default pedestrian corridor for folks walking from park to park, yet it has been far from ideal and safe, especially for kids and families.
There are glaring problems facing pedestrians trying to navigate a safe path along the Lambert/ Bidwell route as is. However, the recent grant award is about to improve pedestrian crossings of Milwaukie and 17th Avenues at Lambert Street.
The proposed improvements under the grant application include marked crossings and bio-swale curb extensions on 17th and Milwaukie Avenues as well as pedestrian refuge islands on 17th Avenue. The improvements to 17th Ave compliment a traffic calming project on 17th completed a decade ago which placed a series of pedestrian island and curb extensions along 17th but stopped far short of Lambert Street . Improvements are likely to go into place in the spring of 2010.
So now the community has turned its focus to the intersection at Lambert Street and 22nd Avenue at Westmoreland Park.
This intersection is unique because the benefits of improvement extend beyond completion of the Park to Park Walkway. Improvement to 22nd and Lambert Street stand to benefit Westmoreland Park by providing a long needed pedestrian path from Lambert Street into the park. The intersection is also located at Crystal Springs Creek, the site of the “Crystal Springs Creek Habitat Restoration Project” which is a top priority for the community in restoring the natural environment. The Intersection project proposes to compliment the restoration effort by providing bio-swales and native plants to enhance the natural environment. Lastly the intersection improvement projects will improve a crossing that has been dangerous in and of itself for decades.
As it stands the intersection at 22nd and Lambert is dangerous to cross. The Westmoreland Park pedestrian path doesn’t connect walkers to Lambert Street. Currently pedestrian walk on the muddy shoulder to the intersection of 22nd Ave. and Lambert St. The intersection is the site of high speed cut-through traffic that creates a dangerous challenge for pedestrians who try to cross without a sidewalk or a marked crosswalk. It is an odd intersection for a pedestrian to negotiate as traffic come from a blind corner from behind the intersection. Traffic travels quickly north on 23rd Avenue, which in itself is quite strange, looking more like two oversized parking lots than a road, before turning hard left onto Lambert Street for 100 feet then hard right by the waiting pedestrian before shooting north on 22nd Avenue.
The benefits of a walkway extend far beyond Sellwood and Westmoreland Parks. This same route is used by pedestrians who continue west of Sellwood Park to The Spring Water Trail, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Sellwood Riverfront Park and The Oaks Amusement Park. Likewise pedestrians walking east pass through Westmoreland Park on their way to the bus station on McLaughlin Blvd. Soon pedestrian traffic will likely increase through Westmoreland Park when the Max Station is completed and pedestrians walk to the new station at Tenino Street and McLaughlin Blvd
The project has appealed to a wide range of organizations who have offered ideas and support including: The Sellwood Moreland Improvement League, The Sellwood Transportation Committee, The Bureau of Environmental Services, 1% Green Streets, The Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Friends of Crystal Springs and Westmoreland Park. We look forward to working with our partners to complete the Sellwood to Westmoreland Park to Park Walkway.