It’s higher now — but note that 7-foot clearance! (Photo: Clean Water Services)

You won’t have to worry about getting wet while riding a section of the Fanno Creek Trail in Beaverton any longer. But you might have to worry about hitting your head.

Persistent flooding of the path where it goes under SW Scholls Ferry Road had become such a problem that Clean Water Services, a utility, recently completed a project that raised the path about 10 inches.

The causes of the flooding are threefold: the path is adjacent to natural wetlands where seasonal floods are normal; record rainfall has made the problem worse lately; and successful conservation efforts have led to a booming nearby beaver population.

As we reported in 2020, there are five beaver dams in a one-mile stretch of the trail between SW Hall and Scholls Ferry Rd. In a statement about the project released this week, CWS said they, “attempted to help reduce impacts in the short term by lowering the beaver dam downstream from Scholls Ferry Road twice in July, but the beavers quickly rebuilt the dam.”

The resulting floods on the path (which can also include thick mud) are more than a minor inconvenience because the alternate route is inconvenient and requires crossing of a very busy road

The newly raised path means the trail will remain rideable through the winter (for now at least). Unfortunately, because Clean Water Services (who collaborated with City of Tigard and Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation Department on the project) didn’t raise the level of the road, the new overhead clearance is a scant 7 feet! This is well below the 10-feet vertical clearance recommended by the national nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidebook. AASHTO says if an area is “constrained,” the minimum can go down to 8 feet.

We hope the top of the underpass is well-marked with something reflective and lit so that no one is hurt riding under it.

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