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High water levels block the Esplanade trail, raising bridge elevators

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An Esplanade user rides a bike on floating ramps during a high water magic in 2011. (Photo: Jonathan Maus / BikePortland)

Anyone traveling near the Willamette or Columbia Rivers should keep an eye on the forecast.

On Saturday afternoon, the Portland City Park and Recreation Bureau announced a temporary partial closure of the Eastbank Esplanade between the Steel and Morrison bridges due to high water levels. Multnomah County says the same issue will also lead to more frequent bridge construction on the Willamette River bridges they operate (Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne, Morrison). And the Oregon Department of Transportation says the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River will also be erected more frequently due to rising waters.

It’s all because of a combination of snowmelt and record rainfall. And not just your average record. According to The Oregonian, Portland has had its wettest April, May, and June in at least 81 years.

The last major high water event in Willamette I remember was in 2011 when the river came just a few feet from the Steel Bridge bike path.

Portland Parks says the current Esplanade closure applies only to the floating part of the trail. Since the ramps move up and down with the river level, when they reach a certain height they are on the adjacent sidewalk and the created bump is considered very dangerous to be used by the public. Water is expected to drop by Wednesday, but Parks has not set a timetable for reopening.

If you are riding between Portland and Vancouver, ODOT says interstate bridge lifts can take up to 20 minutes.

Follow @BikePortland on Twitter for street counseling when they occur. We are also restoring our Newswire feature where we post press releases, alerts and advice from local government agencies.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher)

Jonathan Maus is the editor, publisher and founder of BikePortland. Contact him at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, by email at [email protected], or by phone / text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and rate this site, please become a supporter.

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