COVID-19 Safety, Recovery and Resilience

Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces and many outdoor spaces. State policy
Access City programs, people and projects helping Portland recover. Portland United

Volunteer. Play. Stay. Shop. Show the Rose City a little love. Here for Portland

Balch Creek Trash Rack Replacement and Repair

Sewer and Stormwater
The Balch Creek Trash Rack collects sediment, large logs, and other woody debris that Balch Creek carries down from Forest Park. It is aging and needs to be replaced to help reduce the chance of future clogs, backups, and floods.
Construction began in June 2021 and will take about six months to complete.
On this Page

Environmental Services works throughout the city to protect water quality and the environment. Balch Creek, in northwest Portland, runs above ground for approximately 3 ¼ miles and then enters a pipe in Macleay Park. From that point on, the creek flows underground through the pipe until it reaches the Willamette River. 

At the point in Macleay Park where Balch Creek flows into the underground pipe, a trash rack catches large debris to protect the pipe from backing up or clogging.  

The Balch Creek Trash Rack collects sediment, large logs, and other woody debris that Balch Creek carries down from the steep forested drainage area surrounding the Lower Macleay Trailhead in Forest Park. This large structure keeps the majority of sediment, rock, and floating debris from entering the low-pressure storm sewer that carries Balch Creek from Forest Park to the Willamette River.  

Lower Macleay Trail Temporarily Closed August 17 through December 2021

The Lower Macleay Trail in Portland’s Forest Park will be temporarily closed to the public beginning on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. The trail will be closed from the trailhead at NW Upshur and 30th up to the Stone House located at the intersection with the Wildwood Trail. The closure will last through the end of the year. 

Please see below for a map of alternate routes around the trail closure.

Environmental Services is closing the trail because of critical work currently underway to replace the Balch Creek Trash Rack in Lower Macleay Park. Crews have discovered that existing structures in the construction zone are in a more deteriorated condition than expected.  

To protect the public and our construction crews while they complete this complicated work, the project site needs to be closed entirely, including the portion that the Lower Macleay Trail passes through. Environmental Services has coordinated this closure with Portland Parks and Recreation, as well as the Portland Fire Bureau.  Access for Emergency Responders will be maintained at all times.

Closing the trail is a last resort, but it is necessary to complete the project in a timely manner, protect the health and safety of the public and of our crews, and complete the work before the rainy season begins. The staircase down to the park from NW Thurman will also be closed for the duration of the project. 

Trail users are asked to use alternate routes, obey flaggers and signs, and stay out of the construction zone at all times. 

Trail Closure: Alternate Routes

Map of the Lower Macleay Trail Closure and Alternate Routes
Lower Macleay Trail Closed August 16 to September 6. Please find alternate routes.

Project Description

Crews will begin by fencing the site and bringing in materials and equipment. Crews will deconstruct the old trash rack facility, then install new concrete pads for maintenance access, rebuild rock walls, and install a new steel "rack" system that will catch debris during wet weather. Work inside the banks of Balch Creek will occur during the summer when it will have the least impact to the creek.

Before work is complete, crews will also construct three new water quality facilities to manage the stormwater runoff generated by the new concrete maintenance access areas.  These planters will be planted with native species. You can learn more about water quality facilities/green streets here.

After work is complete, the crews will remove the fence and restore the trail. 

Pollinator Garden

The Pollinator Garden at the north end of the Trash Rack will be restored after construction.

What's Happening Now 

Crews are working hard to finish installing the new trash rack screens and preparing to move work out of the stream channel before the end of the “in-water work window.”

The Rest of This Week

Crews will be performing the work described below during daytime hours between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.: 

  • Complete downstream screen footing and begin steel screen installation.
  • Pour footings for upstream screens.
  • Erect trash rack steel components.

Week of September 27

Crews will be performing the work described below during daytime hours between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.: 

  • Install downstream steel screens.
  • Pour footings for upstream screens.
  • Fill in creek bottom in preparation for constructing “pre-rack” structure that will protect the rack from large debris.
  • Continue work on trash rack steel components.

Week of October 4

Crews will be performing the work described below during daytime hours between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.: 

  • Drill pilings for upstream “pre-rack” structure.
  • Pour new concrete debris collection pads.
  • Install upstream steel screens.
  • Continue work on trash rack steel components.

Week of October 11

Crews will be performing the work described below during daytime hours between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.: 

  • Remove stream diversion and return creek flow to natural stream channel.

What to Expect During Construction

We want you to be safe around the work site. Please keep children, pets, bikes, cars, and trucks away from the tools, machines, supplies, and construction workers. A city inspector will be on-site during work hours and may be able to assist you with construction concerns. Inspectors typically wear a hard hat and safety vest with “City of Portland” on the back. 

Noise, Vibration, and Dust: Construction creates noise, vibration and dust and disrupts normal neighborhood activity. 

Traffic Delays: The work will slow down traffic in your neighborhood. Please read the traffic signs and follow directions from the workers with flags. 

Access to Your Home or Business: You will be able to go to your home or business, but you may not be able to park as close as you would like. We will try to make sure driveways and parking lot entrances stay open. 

Parking Restrictions: We want you to be safe, so you may not be able to park your car next to work spaces, equipment, or materials. If crews are working directly in front of your home or a business, you may need to park in another place. 

Equipment Storage: Sometimes we will leave tools, machines, and supplies on your street overnight. Please stay away from them. 

Maintained Service: You can still use sewer, water, and other services while we work on your street. 

Work Hours: Work hours are 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Sometimes we work on Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

Schedule Changes and Inactivity: Our work schedules can change for many reasons like weather, traffic, and problems with equipment. 

We Want to Hear from You

We would like to hear from you about special events, school activities, and community services in your neighborhood you think may be impacted by this project. Also, we want to know if you have any concerns related to business operations, disability or mobility issues, medical or business deliveries, and proposed night work. Your input will help us minimize the impact to your neighborhood during construction. 

Call 503-823-2827, or email

Projects Nearby

NW Thurman Sewer Reconstruction Project

Sign Up for Updates

Sign up for weekly updates. Select Balch Creek Trash Rack from the dropdown menu.