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Port opens Nichols trail

Parking expanded along the waterfront

DUST FLIES from a power brush as Brandon Brockel of Seal Kote, based in The Dalles, cleans dirt and gravel from the street neighboring Nichols Basin Trail. The paved trail opens to pedestrians today.

Photo by Patrick Mulvihill.
DUST FLIES from a power brush as Brandon Brockel of Seal Kote, based in The Dalles, cleans dirt and gravel from the street neighboring Nichols Basin Trail. The paved trail opens to pedestrians today.

The Port of Hood River is wrapping up construction at the west end of the Nichols Basin Trail, opening the bicycle and pedestrian path to the beach just in time for Independence Day festivities.

Access to the newly paved trail, which leads from the waterfront Event Site to Slackwater Beach, and along the west end of Nichols Basin, is open to the public except for fenced off lawn areas that flank the path.

Liz Whitmore, Port of Hood River waterfront coordinator, said the closed off areas are newly planted grass spots, and they will be “fenced off to avoid damage and enable successful establishment of the grass seed.”

Pedestrians will be able to stroll on the pavement, but not play on the budding grass on either side of the trail. A wall of red mesh fencing will mark the area still closed off.

On Thursday morning, crews from Peterson Construction were leveling dirt at the lawn area between Slackwater Beach and the Valero Gas station at the southern dip of Nichols Basin.

Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said the full pedestrian path from the Event Site to Button Bridge is still not complete, but the West Edge trail along the basin will be open today. Construction that will connect the Naito Construction’s hotel site to the Port’s trail is not yet finalized. McElwee indicated that it could be a year before the continuous path across the entire waterfront is realized.

In other waterfront news, the Port rolled out a new batch of parking spaces at the Event Site.

Parallel parking on First Street will boost from 29 spots to 47. Diagonal parking along Portway Avenue will increase by 18 spaces, with a new total of 26. On-street parking at the waterfront is free, with some “drop-off only” zones and 90-minute limit in some areas.

The Port is considering a metering or parking pass system in the future. This year, they’ll be studying how well the current structure works for accommodating the flood of summer traffic.

“The Port will be assessing parking capacity, vehicular circulation and typical length of time cars are parked in designated areas this summer to determine future planning needs,” said Whitmore.

The waterfront will have limited access in several areas over the weekend:

The Spit: The Port closed the Spit area at noon on Friday, July 3 and will open it again Sunday, July 5.

Event Site Access to Sandbar: Access to the Sandbar from the Event Site will be closed at 7 p.m. on July 4 to all spectators and recreationalists due to fireworks. Kiteboard launching and landing from the Event Site grass is prohibited.

Marina Beach and Marina Park: The sandy area of the Marina Beach will be closed at 7 p.m. on July 4. Once the Marina Park parking areas are full, “Closed” signs will be posted at the entrance and additional vehicles will not be allowed into Marina Park.

Fireworks will be prohibited on all Port properties, including the Marina and Waterfront areas. Genevieve Scholl, Port communications and special projects manager, said dark conditions and heavy pedestrian traffic after the fireworks show make it important to use caution while driving in the area.

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