As Portland leaders consider the landscape of transportation for the decades ahead, one thing that won't be getting governmental attention is restoration of the full Washington Park and Zoo Railway.
At a City Club of Portland-sponsored "State of the Region" address today, Metro president Lynn Peterson said the train's long loop would likely not be restored in the next three years. Instead, the plan is to build a hiking trail in its place.
"I think I disappointed a whole lot of people today," Peterson said. "While people love the Zoo and they love the Zoo train, the City of Portland has a plan and we're trying to adhere to that plan. It envisions a trail there instead."
The Washington Park and Zoo rail line was a beloved Portland landmark that began running in 1958. Its full, two-mile loop through Washington Park stopped in 2014 after structural concerns were raised. A shorter, one-mile line still runs around the Oregon Zoo.
Last August, WW's news partner KATU reported, 5,000 Portlanders signed a petition in favor of restoring the Zoo rail service. At the time, Portland Parks and Recreation told KATU it was discussing funding for both a trail and restored rail line.
But Peterson now says funding for a restoration is too large of a financial lift.
"It would require a huge, probably foundation to be created to look at; how do you actually finance putting the Zoo train back up and running?" Peterson says. "There are a lot of other projects that have been funded by the Zoo bond to actually make better places for the animals, and to make sure that they are healthy. I think that's where the focus is going to be for a while."