Throughout April, our weekly blogs will explore the four interrelated core values that guide the vision and master plan. This week, we take an in-depth look at Public Access. Willamette Falls has been essentially closed to the public for 150 years, with access limited to approaching by boat or viewing from a highway overlook. Public access goals for the project include:
- Providing a front-row seat to experience the majestic Willamette Falls
- Expanding opportunities for public spaces along the river
- Creating connections for people to the river, downtown, and natural environment in Oregon City
The vision and master plan propose a number of exciting opportunities to achieve these goals.
Circulation. The historic street grid is restored to facilitate walking and biking and enhance vehicular access. Main Street connects to the north provide public access to the Falls and a seamless extension of downtown Oregon City. Along the riverbank, Water Street once again extends into the site, using the Riverwalk esplanade as a generous sidewalk.
Riverwalk. The Riverwalk creates continuous public access to view the river. It links a series of overlooks and docks along the river’s edge and connects to the street grid and future open spaces. Trees, benches and river overlooks create a memorable gateway to Willamette Falls and beyond.
Viewing Platform. The PGE dam presents a unique opportunity to create a public walkway over the river. Visitors gain access on the dam’s surface allowing them to walk out to an existing platform providing an intimate view of the Falls.
Connections. An existing rail spur is transformed into a continuous path south along the riverfront and a new pedestrian bridge allows for safe access to the Canemah Bluffs Natural Area and the regional bicycle network. Bank restoration on the river’s edge provides beautiful views and a shaded edge to the trail.
Public access along the waterfront and to Willamette Falls is the first and most important step to restoring public access. The Riverwalk will be a catalyst for economic development in Oregon City and enhance the value of development on the site. It also will bring visitors to the site and generate energy and momentum for continued implementation of the master plan. The project partners (Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon) recently agreed to seek sources of funding to design the Riverwalk.
Show your support for restoring public access to Willamette Falls – sign up to become a Community Champion today!