The eagerly awaited Council Creek Regional Trail to connect downtown Hillsboro, Cornelius, and Forest Grove just advanced mightily in its journey from drawing board to reality. This is due to a $12.2 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant the project has received from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The idea for the regional trail originated with the City of Cornelius over two decades ago. Since then, Metro, Washington County, and the Cities of Hillsboro, Cornelius, and Forest Grove have been planning and collecting community input regarding the recreational and alternative transportation route. In 2020, Clean Water Services, Oregon Department of Transportation, and TriMet joined the other mentioned agencies and governmental entities, forming the Council Creek Corridor Working Group.
The paved path for pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorized rollers is hoped to replace the tracks established in the early 1900s by the Oregon Electric Railway and, in recent history, owned by Portland & Western Railroad. The trail, which would run essentially parallel to Tualatin Valley Highway but a few blocks to the north, is envisioned as a car-free, east-west, intercity travel option featuring higher levels of safety, healthfulness, and enjoyment than Oregon Route 8 offers for non-automotive wayfarers.
“This grant will provide a climate-friendly, healthy way to get to work or school, run errands, connect to MAX or get some exercise,” said Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey. “These funds will help make the communities’ vision for this trail a reality. Thanks to our congressional delegation for their ongoing advocacy to provide these resources into the future.”
The RAISE grant represents a significant leap toward the Council Creek Regional Trail’s construction and this is worthy of celebration. However, this award alone isn’t enough to carry the project all the way to the finish line. According to the grant application, the total estimated price tag for the six-mile segment between Hillsboro and Forest Grove is $26.5 million. Therefore, the Working Group’s efforts to obtain funding are not yet concluded.
Ultimately, it is hoped the regional trail will total 15 miles in length—continuing northward from Forest Grove to connect with Banks. Any such extension will likely occur as a subsequent phase to the Hillsboro-Cornelius-Forest Grove segment.