PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Marathon race director Les Smith has two weeks to decide on a city-mandated marathon route option and medical plan for the 2017 race.
The iconic event is in jeopardy after the city initially denied a permit for the race, citing lack of police officers available to patrol the original route, which looped from downtown Portland around the west and east sides of the city, ending up back in downtown Portland.
The marathon is also under a Department of Justice investigation for potential conflicts of interest at the nonprofit.
Smith and other racers will likely take issues with the city's three route options, as two barely touch the east side of town and another goes into North Portland but doesn't cross any other bridges than the St. Johns.
The route options are projected to cost between $13,400 and $14,600 for Portland Bureau of Transportation engineering and maintenance. Police staffing costs are estimated between $26,000 and $33,000, depending on the route. The marathon has to pay all estimated costs up-front, as part of the city's requirements for permitting.
The first two options run through downtown Portland, along Highway 30, and over the St. Johns Bridge. One ventures slightly into St. Johns while the other just crosses over the St. Johns Bridge before sending runners back over the bridge to run again on Highway 30.
A third option takes runners along Highway 30, over the St. Johns Bridge, and onto Willamette Boulevard. Runners turn around in the Overlook neighborhood and go back over the bridge and highway, into downtown Portland.
None of the routes utilize more bridges than the St. Johns Bridge. Smith has previously said he wanted to keep the St. Johns Bridge in the marathon route, which all options preserve.
“I think we've come up with three routes that balance the needs of the city with the needs of the marathon and traffic and transportation on our end," said John Brady with PBOT. "(We are) confident that this can work out.”
Some runners criticized the original route, which traveled from downtown Portland out on Highway 30, across the St. Johns Bridge, along the Willamette Boulevard to Greeley Avenue before crossing over the Broadway Bridge and back into downtown, as dangerous and not scenic due to the Highway 30 portion of the route.
All marathon options have runners traveling along Highway 30 out and back now.
The city's medical plan calls for increased security and coordinated plan involving the marathon committee and city agencies in case of an event like the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
“We've tried to balance the needs of the marathon to the city in general,” Brady said.
KGW has reached out to Smith for comment. He declined an on-camera interview but said he will show the routes to runners to see what they think of the options.
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