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Portland closes Eastbank Esplanade floating path due to high water

The closure started Sunday, but Portland Parks & Recreation said it does not know how long it will last.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Part of the popular Eastbank Esplanade in Portland closed Sunday until further notice due to rising river levels, Portland Parks & Recreation announced Saturday afternoon.

Parks officials said that they have been monitoring data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which indicated that the Willamette River would rise to 15.5 feet by mid-morning on Sunday.

For Parks & Recreation, 15.5 feet is the threshold for a temporary closure for part of the Esplanade, before it becomes too steep to be safely traversed.

RELATED: More Interstate Bridge lifts expected as Columbia River nears flood stage

Credit: Portland Parks & Recreation
An example of high water causing the floating path on the Eastbank Esplanade to separate from the rest of the path due to high water, taken in 2017.

The closure only applies to the floating portion of the path from north of the Morrison Bridge to south of the Steel Bridge. With the river water level rising, the floating path is rising above the concrete sidewalk where the path connects, "approaching unsuitable angles."

RELATED: Atmospheric river brings more heavy rain to Portland

"Portland Parks & Recreation’s primary concern is for the public’s safety and appreciates people adhering to the temporary closure," the agency said in a statement. "PP&R urges all visitors to respect the protective fencing and signage now being installed. People who had planned to use this portion of the Esplanade will have to find alternate routes to their destinations."

The closure becomes effective Sunday, but PP&R said it does not know how long it will last. Officials theorized that it could reopen on Wednesday or perhaps later in the week.

The Eastbank Esplanade is a 1 1/2 mile path along the east side of the Willamette River waterfront that usually accommodates people walking, cycling or using mobility devices.

The same problem brought on by a substantial amount of rain prompted the Oregon Department of Transportation to warn of bridge lifts on the Interstate Bridge in the days ahead. With the water level on the Columbia River also unusually high, ships need more clearance and more time to navigate the crossing.

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