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Sunday, February 25, 2024
Feb. 25, 2024

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Erosion bites into Washougal’s Jemtegaard Trail

City of Washougal asks people to stay on asphalt path along Gibbons Creek


Less than three years after it opened for public use, Washougal’s Jemtegaard Trail is being threatened by “significant erosion” of the Gibbons Creek bank.

The city has agreed to a $69,854 contract with Portland-based PBS Engineering and Environmental to repair the bank, Public Works Director Trevor Evers told the Washougal City Council on Oct. 9. The council is expected to approve the contract on Monday.

“I think it’s a very important trail, especially for students,” Mayor David Stuebe told the Post-Record on Oct. 12. “I would like to be able to see that (situation) rectified, but we have to do it the right way, and sometimes it costs a little bit of money, but in the long term, (it might) be best for the city.”

Evers said heavy winter and spring stream flows eroded a 40-foot section of the bank along the trail, compromising trail’s structure. If it is left unrepaired, further erosion could undermine the path, present a public safety hazard and jeopardize federal grant funding.

“We have some conditions that have changed significantly out there,” Evers said during a workshop session. “Gibbons Creek is constantly evolving, changing and moving. There’s a pinch point, or a hot spot, and since 2020, heavy bed load and transport contributed to a shift and change from (the creek’s) historical pattern for flows. About 2 feet of the bank was lost (last) winter, so we’ve removed (a clogged dispersion trench) out there to alleviate over-bank flooding.”

The trail is open and currently does not pose a danger to users, according to Evers.

The city has installed construction fencing on one section of the bank to notify pedestrians and cyclists to stay on the asphalt trail, Evers said.

The trail links Jemtegaard Middle and Columbia Gorge Elementary schools to Sunset View Road, where it becomes a sidewalk that connects to the Sunset Ridge neighborhood. It was completed in April 2021. The path includes a small bridge and is fully lighted, with a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon at the intersection of Sunset View Road and Sunset Ridge Drive.