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New bikepath along the Willamette

A new bike and pedestrian path will open soon in Springfield. Here is the press release sent out today (Oct. 16) from Willamalane's public affairs department:

The last leg of a new, 4-mile paved path along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River will be formally opened by Willamalane Park and Recreation District at noon on Friday, Oct. 25.

The 10-foot-wide path will transport walkers, runners, cyclists, birders and nature seekers along a previously inaccessible stretch of river from Dorris Ranch to Clearwater Park near Jasper Road in southeast Springfield. The fully accessible path offers close-up views of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, wildlife and wildflowers, along with a new perspective on Mount Pisgah in the distance to the south.

"We are excited to open up this breathtaking part of the river and complete the path," said Willamalane Superintendent Bob Keefer.

Keefer noted the path will connect to the riverfront bike path system and Lane Transit District's Springfield Station via the South Second Street bike lane.

 “It will become not only an amazing recreational path but also a great nonmotorized transportation corridor," Keefer said.

Willamalane opened the first section of the asphalt path, from Clearwater Park to Quarry Creek, in 2011. The new section extends from Quarry Creek around the butte to Dorris Ranch. A new trailhead, parking lot and restroom complete the project.

Dorris Ranch was closed weekdays during the construction of the second phase of the path; the park will resume regular hours when the path is opened to the public.

Willamalane has begun planning efforts to connect the Middle Fork Path with a path along the Springfield Mill Race, creating an 8-mile loop, with brief sections of on-street bicycle lanes. The path will also connect to an extensive existing riverfront path system linking Springfield and Eugene through Island Park and West D Street.

To further enhance the path's regional appeal, a bridge across the river is also in long-range plans. Such a bridge would provide access to Lane County's 2,300-acre Howard Buford Recreation Area and Mount Pisgah, including 16 miles of trails within the recreation area and access to the preferred route of the Eugene to Pacific Crest Trail.

More than 100 invited guests are expected to attend the grand opening ceremony. People are encouraged to bring bicycles to tour the new path. In addition, Willamalane will provide pedicabs for people to use.

 This newest section of the path was funded with approximately $3 million in federal transportation grant funds, plus Willamalane’s local match of approximately $900,000. The Oregon Department of Transportation provided support for the project from four different programs that fund off-street bike paths and encourage multimodal connectivity.

The Middle Fork Path was constructed with the cooperation of Springfield Utility Board, city of Springfield, Knife River Corporation, and the Allen and Reinagel families, who with Willamalane, own the land along the path.

Visit willamalane.org for celebration details and more information about the new path.