The 26-year-old Riverfront Trail is in need of significant repairs, especially on the west end of the trail, and as much as two-thirds of the funds needed for the work have been identified, said Julie Kruger, city manager of The Dalles. The city, which approved up to $100,000 for repairs in July, has received commitments of $50,000 each from the People’s Utility District (PUD) and the Port of The Dalles, Kruger told the Chronicle Aug. 9.
The Wasco County Commission is currently investigating whether or not county funds can be made available, and Kruger said other potential partners have also been approached.
Additional partners currently include the Riverfront Trail Committee, which is fundraising for the project, and the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation District, which performs regular maintenance on the trail.
Dan Durow, who has worked on the project since its inception in the 1980s and currently chairs the Riverfront Trail Committee, said the committee has been fundraising for maintenance and repair since 2010. The committee has provided roughly two out of every three dollars spent on repair and maintenance projects, he said, and has completed 10 of 12 repair projects first identified in 2010.
Durow told the city council in July that reconstructing trail edges from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center to the crossing unde the railroad was a high-priority project for 2019, but fundraising efforts by the trail committee over the past two years are expected to fall as much as $86,000 short of the estimated $110,000 needed for that repair. The project consists of sub-base, fill, retaining wall, asphalting and seal coat work for a distance of 2,600 feet.
Also needed is a seal coat of the entire 8.5-mile trail, at an estimated cost of $100,000, to stop the trail from deteriorating further.
Another section in need of repair is in the area of the newest Google construction, where the trail is located on top of mill spoils from a former wood processing facility and appears to be sinking, and two sites near Chenowith Creek, one of which is severely damaged by tree roots.
Durow estimated the outstanding repairs would total over $300,000, but that the work would stabilize the trail for many years to come. He also said they had worked with engineers to break the work into sections that could be fixed and paid for over several years.
Scott Baker, executive director of the Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation district, said the district does regular maintenance on the trail, and will continue do so, “but these repairs are really a capital maintenance project, and are beyond the scope of what the trail committee or the park district can do on their own.”
“There have been a lot of volunteer efforts that have gone into maintaining the trail,” Durow told the council. “Our super volunteer and donor, Dave Neitling, has done crack sealing, weed pulling, brush cutting. Whatever needs to be done, he’s out there doing it,” Durow said. “He just never runs out of energy. It’s an amazing amount of work he has done. He is 82 now. Volunteers have been pulling weeds and sealing cracks in the asphalt and clearing brush, and local companies have been giving deep discounts on engineering and work.”
Baker agreed, noting the crack sealing he’s done has been invaluable. “It has probably saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
“It’s not just his time, it’s his own dollars that are going into that,” agreed Councilor Linda Miller. Durow estimated at around $10,000 for dnated materials alone. Miller said she uses the trail frequently. “I have yet to be on that trail by myself, the trail is well used, it is something that the community uses a lot.”
Baker said he was consistently impressed with the funds that come in each year for trail maintenance. “There are some large donation, but I’m impressed with the hundreds of $5 and $10 donations that come in,” Baker said. “It really speaks to the wide popularity and use of this trail, and the love people have for this trail. Even though they can’t contributed a lot, they contribute year after year.”
He said repairs could be done in phases, based on the funding available.
The council voted unanimously to authorize the city manager to work with community partners to finance preservation, with the city’s contribution not to exceed $100,000, and to pursue additional funding with partner agencies, a process that is ongoing.
About the trail
The Riverfront Trail is a shared-use, paved trail that parallels the south bank of the Columbia River. When complete, the trail will span 10 miles between the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center to the west and The Dalles Dam Visitor Center to the east. Currently, there are missing segments just west of the Lone Pine Development, and east of US 197 to The Dalles Dam. The asphalt-paved trail is 8 to 12 feet wide, and the majority of the trail is ADA accessible.