Section of waterfront trail closed due to flood damage

By Bob Albrecht, Columbian Staff Reporter

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A stretch of Vancouver’s Waterfront Renaissance Trail was closed Friday due to erosion near Tidewater Cove, marking the first report of damage resulting from the Columbia River’s climb into flood stage.

Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation sent out a news release and photo that shows a chunk of concrete broken free from the trail near the cove, west of Wintler Park. The parks department closed 400 feet of the trail.

Barricades are being used to keep walkers and joggers from getting too near the damaged path. Signs were set up to direct foot traffic to a detour on Columbia Way.

“We are working closely with engineers, operations teams and adjacent property owners to monitor and assess high-water impacts and potential short-term and long-term options and costs,” said Pete Mayer, the parks director. “As the Columbia River rises, we will continue to keep a close watch on this and all sections of the waterfront trail and take action where necessary.”

The water Friday afternoon was at 17.1 feet, more than a foot into the 16-foot flood stage. The river levels could climb higher this weekend as warm weather melts late-season snow.

In the press release, Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation wrote the flood-stage levels appear “to be naturally trying to cut into the bank to create a flatter slope of sandy beach. Compounding that are factors such as rapid currents and the high velocity caused by the water-inundated jetty.”

Local, state and federal permits are required before construction on the area can get underway to repair the trail. It is not yet known how much those repairs will cost.

According to the release, “At this time, options for halting the natural erosion of the shoreline or preserving the 400 feet of trail are anticipated to be extremely limited, as is available funding.”