How the 4TTrail came to be:
by Don Baack
As the Portland Aerial Tram was nearing completion in 2006, my son Eric, who grew up in Portland and is now a biology professor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and I (Don Baack) were discussing how to make a greater public asset out of the huge expenditure for the tram. As a resident of Southwest Portland for since 1972, I had been involved since 1995 in organizing SWtrails and through it, promoting pedestrian access in that area’s hilly neighborhoods, with its many streets lacking sidewalks or curbs.
Eric came up with the idea of a loop that would include several of our Portland transportation modes: tram, trolley (Portland Streetcar) train (MAX light rail) combined in a loop with a 4-mile pedestrian trail. He predicted that if it were properly signed and advertised, it would be listed in every tour book mentioning Portland that is written around the world. We were excited about the idea and began searching for the appropriate name. We came up with the “4T”– Tram, Trolley, Train and Trail.
Shortly thereafter, I presented the idea to the Portland City Council during a discussion of the final steps in the tram project. Although the council liked the idea, when Bruce Murray of the Friends of Marquam Nature Park, and I had discussions with the city commissioners’ offices, not one was willing to fund the estimated $45,000 effort. Jim Thayer, president of Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL), a Portland neighborhood assocation, joined us in presenting the idea to Fred Hansen, the general manager at TriMet. Soon after, Portland Mayor Tom Potter decided to fund the effort using discretionary funds from his office. We received a grant for the full amount with the understanding that the effort would be controlled and managed by me, Don Baack, and that SW Neighborhoods, Inc., a Portland Coalition of 17 neighborhood associations, serving as fiscal agent.
Bruce Murray, a retired banker and fellow resident of SW Portland, has been my partner in managing this effort since we started in 2007.
Once we secured funding, we hired Sea Reach of Sheridan Oregon, an experienced trail signage consultant, to help us design the logo, wayfinding and interpretive signage, and to get the whole system installed. We completed the signage in September 2009.
This trail wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the following people. Thank you, everyone.
City of Portland
Mayor Potter, Retired