Franz River Campus boasts new roads, greenway trail and more

By Ethan Sanders | March 12, 2024 3:00pm

The intramural turf field, boathouse and sand volleyball courts at Franz River Campus.

Media Credit: Gavin Britton / The Beacon

The Franz River Campus continues to be a lively part of UP, with a newly paved road and a close up view of the Willamette on the Greenway trail. 

Van Houten Place, the main road leading down to River Campus, has been completely repaved and relit, making pedestrian travel safer. The Greenway Trail, a half-mile long stretch of walkway along the Willamette, has been added with new trees planted along the path as an environmental effort.

The newest amenities add to a growing list of enhancements: a new Physical Plant building, the Boathouse and E.L. Wiegand Environmental Lab, the Tom and Meg Names beach volleyball courts, the intramural/practice soccer fields and the future track and field facility.

The new sand volleyball courts.

by Gavin Britton / The Beacon

Sophomore intramural sports coordinator Ryan Guzman believes the newly refurbished road will have a noticeable impact on student life and bring more spectators to UP sports. 

“Previously, the roads were really bad for the cars — you know, flat tires, potholes everywhere,” Guzman said. “So now that they cleaned it all up, I think it's more incentive and better for people to go down there and watch the games.”

Junior Mia Kilmister on the rowing team agrees that the road improvements will have a major impact on athletics as a whole. 

“The beach volleyball courts are now down there and the men and women's soccer team trains down there,” Kilmister said. “So it's really becoming more of a whole athletic thing, and hopefully the track gets built in the next couple years, and then it'll be very much like an athletic hub.”

Kilmister explained that not having to drive 20 minutes to practice every morning has been great. 

“So obviously we can get to classes super quick, have earlier practices if we need to, and it's just really cool being on the road like on the river because we're actually part of campus,” Kilmister said.

Jennie Cambier, associate vice president of campus planning and construction, played a pivotal role in the process, which was part of a project with the City of Portland. She explained that Van Houten is a public road and it was important to the city that UP focus on that area. 

“The Greenway trail was a way for the city to really make sure that the university committed to what the city saw as important public improvements,” Cambier said.

The new boathouse along The Greenway Trail.
by Gavin Britton / The Beacon

The trail is also a very exciting addition to River Campus, giving students the opportunity to walk alongside the Willamette with a sprawling view of Forest Park. 

“I walk out to my car every evening and I just hear all different kinds of noises — you know, birds, frogs it's just, it feels much closer to nature,” Cambier said. “And so the ability to come down here on the Greenway trail is, I think, just a really amazing amenity.”

The path that led to the improvements was a long one, spanning 15 years and including a grueling environmental cleanup. River Campus, formerly known as Triangle Park, was an industrial site purchased by UP in 2008. The property was an abandoned brownfield site, meaning there was hazardous waste that needed to be remediated.

“We had to work with the City of Portland, the State Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA,” Cambier explained. “One of the conditions of approval they had was that we can't actually close out our building permits until we constructed the road and completed all of the riparian plantings, which are the plantings along the shoreline.”

One more project underway is an NCAA regulation track and field facility with construction currently underway.

The improvements also resulted in the rowing team getting its own on-campus boathouse, a perk only a few other rowing teams in the country have. This will be a noticeable change since the team previously practiced at Vancouver Lake in Washington.

“I think that the River Campus offers just an amazing amenity for students who want to connect more with the river and feel like they're part of a bigger part of Portland,” Cambier said. “And being down here gives students a whole new experience.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly labeled the NCAA regulation track and field facility as being complete.

Ethan Sanders is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at