News, Recreation, Washington County

Hillsboro to Forest Grove portion of Council Creek Regional Trail moves ahead

Plans to build one segment of the Council Creek Trail are closer than ever to moving forward.

An online open house for the project is open for public comment through May 14 at The open house is for the Hillsboro to Forest Grove segment, and includes information about the trail, potential amenities, and has a survey for participants.

An in-person open house is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Cornelius Public Library.

Pitched as a six mile long trail connecting downtown Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Hillsboro, it’s one of two potential trail segments that area governments want to build. It’s hoped that final design of the east-west segment of the trail will be completed in 2024, with trail construction starting in 2026 and completion anticipated in 2029, according to Washington County Land Use and Transportation.

The trail would allow people on foot, bicycle, roller blades, and other largely nonmotorized vehicles to avoid TV highway and other dangerous roadways.

The Hillsboro to Forest Grove segment is estimated to cost about $28 million, with $19 million already committed to the trail through a hodgepodge of sources, including Metro funds, funds from Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Hillsboro, county dollars, and $12.2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Multiple agencies, stakeholder groups, and elected officials have their hand in planning the trail.

The lengthily-named Council Creek Regional Trail Elected Officials Steering Committee spearheads the development of the trail, and includes such people as Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey, who represents most of Western Washington County in District 4. Also on that committee is Susan McClain, Oregon state representative for District 29, and a number of other elected officials from the cities the east-west segment touches.

There’s also a Council Creek Regional Corridor Working Group, which has the cities of Banks, Cornelius, Forest Grove, and Hillsboro, Washington County, Clean Water Services, the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet, and Metro in the group.

A proposed second segment, linking Forest Grove to Banks, is less certain, and has a loose timeline of 2031 to 2045 according to a list of strategic projects floated by Metro as part of their proposed 2023 Regional Transportation Plan project list.

Called the North-South segment, Metro estimates that portion would cost more than $61 million to complete, linking the Portland Metro region to Banks, then on to Vernonia via the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, and if built, to Tillamook via the Salmonberry Trail.

A handful of potential trail routes were laid out in a 2015 master plan, including routes following Greenville Road, routes going along Highway 47, and routes through Verboort, among others.

No such funding exists for that portion of the Council Creek Trail at the moment, and there seems to be little political will yet to tackle such a project. Projects on the strategic list are considered to be priority projects that could be completed with additional resources.

“These projects are not anticipated to be completed unless new, as of yet identified funding becomes available,” Metro said in a spreadsheet listing 298 such strategic projects.

Metro’s draft 2023 Regional Transportation Plan has a survey for feedback open until May 1.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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