Commissioner Steve Novick and community partners announced the Naito Pilot Project, a temporary safety solution that will create a pleasant route for people to get to and enjoy the Oregon Brewers Festival at Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Better Block PDX, a local group of public space advocates, has obtained a permit from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to provide one northbound motor vehicle lane that is physically separated from a protected bicycle and pedestrian space to help everyone safely and comfortably access the waterfront.
“The Oregon Brewers Festival generates an estimated economic impact of $32 million for the city of Portland,” said Novick, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “The safety of residents and visitors is a priority during festivals that bring people to our signature waterfront from around the region and state,” he added.
The majority of Oregon Brewers Festival patrons come from beyond Portland and more than 30 percent are from out of state according to a survey conducted during last year’s event.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Oregon Brewers Festival have become so successful and popular, they draw tens of thousands of people to the waterfront. But to reach the festival, tourists are too often forced to squeeze into narrow sidewalks, walk in a bike lane, or bike in a travel lane with high-speed traffic.
Starting Tuesday, July 21 at 6pm and lasting through Monday, July 27 at 6pm, the four-lane SW Naito Parkway will have three travel lanes, plus a lane of open space for the public to walk and bike safely to the festival. The pilot project will open nearly a mile of street, 15 feet wide, to public use, from SW Salmon Street to NW Pine Street. Normally, the festival obtains a permit for a similar closure for unloading only during daytime, off-peak hours.
Better Block PDX, a local group devoted to creating temporary public space, worked to obtain a permit from PBOT for the event and plans to have volunteers monitor traffic and count people walking and bicycling in the space. One difference from the Naito pilot project earlier this summer is that bicycles will be able to travel in both directions of the public space.
“Better Block is excited to continue the conversation about public space on our downtown waterfront that was started by Gov Tom McCall,” said Ryan Hashagen, a volunteer with the group. “The legacy of Gov. McCall and Waterfront Park has proven so successful and is often at peak capacity, Better Block PDX is happy to partner with Oregon Brewers Festival to create a safe space for all Oregonians to enjoy our downtown Waterfront.”
Transportation Director Leah Treat said the pilot project shows PBOT’s ability to work with community organizations to improve traffic safety and create livable communities that everyone can enjoy. “As we see every year with Sunday Parkways, Portlanders embrace their streets as community space, not just a route to travel through,” Treat said.
Commissioner Novick’s Office, Better Block PDX, PBOT and the Oregon Brewers Festival had all identified the need to do something to make access to the park more comfortable during the festival, which draws an estimated 85,000 people to the waterfront.
“We are excited to partner with the City of Portland, Better Block PDX, Oregon Walks, and Portland State University to create a safe space for our patrons as they come to the waterfront to enjoy some of the best tasting beer in the world,” said Art Larrance, director of the Oregon Brewers Festival.
Portland State University engineering students designed traffic control measures for the project, which were reviewed by PBOT staff.
“For a university that strives every day to heed the motto, ‘Let Knowledge Serve The City,’ there is no clearer sign of success than a student project being brought to life in the heart of our city,” said Wim Wiewel, president of PSU.
An economic analysis conducted by Eastern Oregon University during last year’s OBF found the following:
- Women accounted for nearly half (44.8%) of OBF attendees.
- Nearly half (42%) of the attendees utilized public transit to reach the festival.
- 41% of OBF patrons were attending the festival for the first time.
- The largest demographic of attendees are 21-29 year olds (29%) followed by those over the age of 50 (25%).
- 290 jobs were created as a direct result of the economic impact of the Oregon Brewers Festival.
This pilot project will allow the community to provide feedback on potential changes to the Naito Parkway street design. The public is encouraged to comment on the project by email, Twitter and a phone voicemail box set up to receive comments.
Have your say about the Naito Pilot Project:
Email comments: BetterNaito@portlandoregon.gov
Web site: portlandoregon.gov/transportation/naitoparkway
Facebook: Portland Bureau of Transportation
Leave a message by phone: 503-823-4321
Better Block PDX has obtained funding for this project from Clif Bar.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation