A state multimodal funding program helps a dream come true
What was envisioned as a “path to employment” in a 2015 Connect Oregon grant application has blossomed into much more for the Tigard community. The recently completed Tigard Heritage Trail has opened new access to parks and trails, livable neighborhoods and the city’s vibrant downtown.
“Since its inception, there has been an increasing amount of usage and activity, whether runners, bikers, walkers, boarders or bladers,” said Tigard Chamber of Commerce CEO Debi Mollahan, whose building abuts the trail. “There is a constant hum of activity.”
Community groups worked together for several years to get ready for funding the pedestrian path. The team then submitted a successful Connect Oregon application to the Oregon Department of Transportation, who manages the program. Once a former railroad spur, the Tigard Heritage Trail is reborn today. City leaders are quick to thank Connect Oregon staff and Genesee and Wyoming Railroad, which allowed the city to get a long-term lease for the former Oregon Electric Railway.
An outdoor museum and a gathering place
The concept of an Outdoor Museum was born from the minds of the community, intertwining the region’s rail history with Tigard’s cultural identity. Located along the Tigard Heritage Trail, Tigard’s Outdoor Museum makes the trail not only a place to travel but a place to contemplate, thanks in part to renowned artist Suenn Ho. With Ho’s ideas in place, the trail highlights and celebrates the diverse cultures that have contributed to the region’s history through personal narratives and interpretive artworks.
Long-sought space for community gatherings is now located adjacent to the trail in Rotary Plaza, at the Main Street entrance. A large clock – a gift from Tigard’s Rotary Clubs – anchors the plaza and serves as a reminder of Tigard’s history as a city that grew up around railroads. Now, it’s acity that celebrates having even more options for travel. Supporting a modern, multimodal transportation system is one of the top priorities in ODOT’s Strategic Action Plan, so seeing this project offer such benefits is rewarding for the agency and for Tigard.
“The new trail is a great neighborhood connect point for those accessing TriMet and WES,”Mollahan said. “And with its history panels and 3-dimensional art, it’s also a great lunch walk while on a break from work.”
In fact, supporters agree: the new Tigard Heritage Trail is much more than a transportation option; it is, in many ways, its own destination.
Check out some of the artwork and features along the trail in ODOT’s Tigard Heritage Trail FlickR album .