New trail: Along the King of Roads, a Prince of a bridge

Our photos on pages A1 and A12 of the new 81-foot McCord Creek Bridge suggest the vibrancy of Saturday’s dedication organized by Oregon State Parks (story on page A1).

Flags and bicyclists’ colorful garb stood in brilliant contrast to the concrete, still fresh and white, as the crowd gathered to celebrate the expanded trail linking Cascade Locks and Troutdale, along the Old State Highway.

The bridge color will fade in time and, who knows, cyclists’ garb may change in the years to come, but the bridge, and the recreation link, will stand for many years. McCord’s construction is reminiscent of the bridges designed by Sam Lancaster and Conde McCullough found along the Columbia River Highway. It is fitting that Lancaster started his surveying on those bridges, part of the “King of Roads,” 100 years ago in September 1913.

Congratulations to OSP, Oregon Department of Transportation, Friends of the Historic Highway, Hood River and Multnomah counties, and the cities of Cascade Locks and Troutdale who, among other partners, collaborated on a linkage more than 25 years in the planning.

Parks District Manager Kevin Price said, “Today we celebrate a connection. I don’t know how I should say this: Either you can ride from Troutdale to Cascade Locks without getting on I-84 or you can ride all the way from Cascade Locks to Troutdale without getting on the interstate; either way I am sure it is something the bicyclists will enjoy.”

The bridge itself is a pleasant walk (separated all but audibly from the interstate). Set back in the woods, the freeway noise fades away as you peer over the rails of the bridge and watch the gentle coursing of McCord Creek. Walk or ride a little farther and view more bridge and trail engineering where it meets natural engineering, including petrified wood uncovered during rock slope excavation for the project.

Preserving such things is important: Price noted that the expanded trail allows the public to pursue three words vital to the parks’ mission: Nature, History and Discovery.

But the trail and its bridges are about moving people from one place to another, via a scenic place. As Hood River County Commissioner Karen Joplin put it, “We are indeed lucky to live in this place of beauty and call it home; and how lucky our communities are to benefit from these connecting projects. This is an exciting segment connecting our heart of the Gorge in Cascade Locks with our Portland region.”

Flags lowered

Navy Yard victims

Gov. John Kitzhaber has ordered all flags at public institutions throughout Oregon be lowered immediately to half-staff until Friday, Sept. 20, in remembrance of the victims of the Navy Yard shooting.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their friends during this very difficult time,” said Kitzhaber. “While there’s much we don’t yet know about this tragedy, we are comforted by the quick reaction of first responders who were once again called to action.”

The full text of President Barack Obama’s proclamation can be read at www.whitehouse.gov.

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