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The long-anticipated project had a groundbreaking ceremony last week underneath Highway 99W.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - From left, state Rep. Margaret Doherty, Tigard City Councilor Tom Anderson, Tigard Mayor Jason Snider, Tigard City Councilor John Goodhouse, and Tigard City Councilor Heidi Lueb break ground on the new Tigard Street Heritage Trail.Tigard officials and members of the business community celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Tigard Street Heritage Trail and Outdoor Museum at the corner of Southwest Main and Tigard streets Thursday evening, Aug. 29.

The trail will extend from Main Street to Tiedeman Avenue. There is already a "temporary trail" in place, but the blacktop will be replaced by a 12-foot-wide, more permanent pathway.

"We have trails, and we're proud of them. We have lots of them. But we've never made a trail like this one," said Kenny Asher, Tigard's community development director.

The trail links residential neighborhoods north of Southwest Pacific Highway, also signed as Highway 99W, with downtown Tigard to the south. It passes beneath the highway.

But beyond providing a walking and biking path, Tigard Mayor Jason Snider predicted, the trail will be a local landmark in its own right.

"In many ways, it's going to be its own destination," Snider said. "This is going to be a place where you want to bring your family, where you want to experience time to reflect. It's going to be amazing."

The trail is situated along an old railroad spur. It runs parallel to train tracks used by both freight and passenger trains, including TriMet's WES commuter rail service.

"Today, in many ways, it's being reborn," said Snider of the rail spur. "It's being reborn as another link to Tigard's growing trail system, providing a long-sought space for community gatherings (and) advancing our vision to become the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest."COURTESY MAP: CITY OF TIGARD - A concept map shows how the 3/4-mile Tigard Street Heritage Trail will stretch from Southwest Main Street to Southwest Tiedeman Avenue.

As it approaches Main Street at its southern end, the trail will widen into a paved open space called Rotary Plaza. The area is named to honor Tigard's two Rotary International clubs and will feature a clock donated by local Rotarians.

"It's custom-made," said Tom Anderson, a city councilor who is active in the Rotary Club of Tigard, of the decorative clock. "It's got the Rotary colors and a nice Rotary emblem, and (it) signifies the great things that we like in the community."

"This clock will remind us not only of the many contributions of our Rotary clubs, but also the history of this place as the rail station around which Tigard grew," Snider said.

Another partner in the work is the Washington County Museum, which has come up with interpretive signage for the trail. The city refers to the exhibits that will be set up along a portion of the trail as Tigard's Outdoor Museum.

"The museum project is going to provide a social connection and a connection to our history, and to the diverse histories of our region's residents," Asher said.

The Outdoor Museum will also feature public art displays.

"We have made a call to artists for three major public artworks, and so far, we have received 62 entries," said longtime state Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, who was invited to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony. She sits on the art selection panel for the project. "Artwork, we know, is very, very important to Tigard. The Outdoor Museum and the trail will exemplify this."

The $1.25 million project is one of the crown jewels of the municipal government's vision for downtown Tigard, which city and business leaders want to promote as a pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly mixed-use district.

Part of the project cost is covered by Connect Oregon, a state-run multimodal transportation grant program.

"I think this project really exemplifies what the Connect Oregon program is trying to do," said Amanda Pietz, representing the Oregon Department of Transportation at Thursday's event. "That's about economic development. So accessing businesses here, really drawing people in and making it that destination, is really key to what the Connect Oregon program is trying to achieve, and this is a really great way to spend those resources toward something that benefits the community."

The trail and plaza have been in the works for more than a decade in Tigard, Snider noted. But the time it takes to actually build them will be a blink of an eye by comparison. With construction getting underway this month, estimates call for the work to be largely complete by the end of the year.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Amanda Pietz of the Oregon Department of Transportation makes a few remarks during the groundbreaking of the Heritage Trail in Tigard, as trail users ride along the temporary asphalt pathway in the background.

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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