Support BikePortland

Get ready for a two month closure of the Esplanade that starts February 1st

Posted by on January 11th, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Make plans to not use the Esplanade between February 1st and April 1st.
(Photo: Portland Parks)

Earlier today we shared the good news: That PBOT will re-open Better Naito three months early.

Here’s the bad news: They’re doing that because the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau will close the Eastbank Esplanade for two months starting February 1st.

Click for larger version.

Parks is working in partnership with PBOT, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council on a major maintenance and repair project on the popular path. The closure will last until April 1st and the affected section will be from the Hawthorne to the Steel Bridge. This is an extremely popular path that PBOT estimates carries about 2,400 daily bicycle trips and 1,200 daily walking trips.

“This long-planned project will improve safety and park amenities, replace invasive vegetation with native species, and restore our public art,” said Parks Commissioner Nick Fish in a statement released today. Among the improvements coming will be: replacement and repair of concrete, degraded surfaces, and various amenities, new and improved lights, and the cleaning of trash and graffiti.


Two major events already planned — the Worst Day of the Year Ride (February 20th) and the Shamrock Run (March 17th) — will be permitted to use the path during closure.

As we shared earlier today (the rollout of this announcement wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped because I was out of the office on-assignment most of the day), PBOT has stepped up to provide Better Naito to help with the detour. You’ll be able to start biking in the two-way protected path on Naito starting January 28th and it will stay up through the summer festival season.

The project to restore this 1.5-mile section of the Esplanade to its original beauty is brought to you by $500,000 in the City’s 2018-19 adopted budget and $200,000 in ongoing maintenance funding.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Avatar
    mran1984 January 11, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Nothing good about any of this. That’s a third of my commute that is impacted in the worst way possible (other than a bridge up). Distracted folks heading the wrong direction is never an improvement, let alone safer. The only problem with the Esplanade is the camping. Are “they” going to improve that?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Avatar
      Jeff S(egundo) January 11, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      ‘“This long-planned project will improve safety and park amenities, replace invasive vegetation with native species, and restore our public art,” said Parks Commissioner Nick Fish in a statement released today. Among the improvements coming will be: replacement and repair of concrete, degraded surfaces, and various amenities, new and improved lights, and the cleaning of trash and graffiti.’

      Yeah, nothing good about any of this…it’s going to lose its “lived-in” feel.

      Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Avatar
      PS January 12, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      If this is a third of your commute, your commute is incredibly short and given an actual detour is provided, it is pretty mellow.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Avatar
    Terry D-M January 12, 2019 at 11:25 am

    They don’t mention adding a Portland Loo, or several. Those “temporary” facilities at Salmon are toxic. There are two restrooms plus a Loo on the west side, but the Eastside has no permanent facilities at all.

    I specifically pointed this out when Parks department did outreach at SE Uplift on the Park’s Bond where they asked “Where would be a good place for restrooms?”

    As usual, they will make it “look nice” but not fix the worst facilities problem on the entire stretch.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Avatar
      Johnny Bye Carter January 13, 2019 at 2:04 pm

      Portland fails when it comes time to find somewhere to relieve oneself. Even worse in the winter when they close many park restrooms.

      But this is true of most places in the US.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Avatar
        was carless January 17, 2019 at 9:15 am

        There are porta potties along the Esplanade. No reason to shit on the street there.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rivelo
    Rivelo January 12, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    In olden times:

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      Toby Keith January 12, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      Right! And we’re still complaining. ; )

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Bald One January 13, 2019 at 9:35 am

    It’s rather outrageous that they require an entire closure for 2-months to do some landscaping and artwork cleaning. How in the world can this be justified, due to the extreme impact to many regular users. I do not agree that the Naito thing is at all a useful detour.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Avatar
      soren January 13, 2019 at 11:40 am

      The problem with “trails” manged by parks and recreation is that this city bureau does not view them as transportation facilities. in fact, parks and recreation has has long history of bias against people cycling (fast cyclists use naito!).

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    Bald One January 13, 2019 at 9:37 am

    What would be useful if they improved the switchbacks from Peace park down near the Steel bridge – this route really needs a direct shot up from the southern end to the top, in order to avoid the dangerous mixing zone requiring u-turns into mixed traffic at the bottom of the switchback near the Steele bridge. That would be a great improvement to the path.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    Bald One January 13, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Please join me in taking the lane on SE 11th and SE 12th avenues from Sandy/Burnside to Clay St during this shutdown.

    City should go ahead and set up the changes on these streets they have proposed prior to shutting down EE.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Bald One January 13, 2019 at 9:44 am

    I think the importance of this bike connection necessitates a harder look at what exactly the city is planning during this 2 month shut down. The article mentions repair of concrete, but the City’s website notice of this makes no mention of concrete repair, instead mentioning, “replacing degraded surfaces and amenities” . This sounds more like park benches to me, and less like cracks and potholes in the path surface. I’m not sure we should all just stand up and applaud such a poorly stated scope of work and accept a 2-month shutdown.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Bald One January 13, 2019 at 9:49 am

    City needs to re-locate the garbage bins and lamp-posts which are sticking into the travel lanes on this path.

    City needs to repair the buckled concrete path next to the suspended grating bridge between the morrison and the burnside bridges.

    City needs to fix the blacktop between the hawthorne and OMSI.

    City needs to widen the path under and adjacent to the Hawthorne bridge – increase traffic flow and allow less conflict between users.

    City needs to widen many sections of this MUP. Between all the new joggers using this path now and the summer tourist season, this entire path needs to be widened and improved to reduce conflicts between users. Many specific pinch-points and restrictions in movement due to turns, bottlenecks, and restrictions exist on this path which need to be removed or widened.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      X January 13, 2019 at 10:51 pm

      Even with the problems you mention the Esplanade is still a great N-S link because the conflicts are minor compared to the dangers of mixing with motorized traffic and the sorry delays imposed by the signs and signals that come with motorized traffic.

      The fact that traffic controls are not needed for mixed bikes and pedestrians is one of the best arguments for human powered travel. Even at the very awkward spot at the bottom of the ramps by the Steel Bridge there are no crashes* and only the most minor delays. Nothing like a similar three-way intersection used by motor traffic.

      I agree that things like trash bins could and should be moved out of the line of travel.

      *I’ve never seen or heard of one, anyhow

      ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

      If only we had more routes like the Esplanade with a mile or more of uninterrupted pavement, flat grades, no cross traffic, and no threat from aggressively operated motor vehicles. IMHO something like the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail, connecting downtown, the Esplanade and Springwater, Central Eastside, Lloyd District, Hollywood, Gateway, Gateway Green, I-205 Bikepath, and ultimately the Gorge Scenic Trail, would put a little shine on that whole Platinum thing.

      The Sullivan’s Gulch Trail is an asset that would not be “owned” by any part of town, since it would open up and connect a big slice of the East Side to employment, cultural assets, recreation and a variety of economic activities. Besides the parochial interest of people who ride bikes it’s a serious economic development opportunity. It’s also the sort of thing that people put on tourist brochures (ok, websites) and plan trips around. There are nearly 40 hotels, motels, and hostels within a mile of the Esplanade and the Sullivan’s Gulch route, with more under construction.

      Bike infrastructure is cheap. How much would 8 or 10 miles of world-class bikeway cost? I’m guessing, a lot less than a straight mile of 4-lane interstate highway, something we already have a lot of.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Avatar
        JeffS(egundo) January 14, 2019 at 7:06 pm

        “*I’ve never seen or heard of one, anyhow“

        I have seen one; it wasn’t pretty. And given the design of that intersection, I’ll wager it hasn’t been the only one.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      catherine feta-cheese January 14, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Agree on Steel Bridge switchbacks, especially for exiting to Esplanade at night. Also they really need to remove the miserable shrubbery that blocks view of Hawthorne Bridge ramp when riding north.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Johnny Bye Carter January 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    We need some bicycle specific infrastructure along the waterfront.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    MTW January 14, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Happy that Better Naito is coming back early to help manage this disruption for bike commuters, but that’s really only an acceptable detour for those traveling from Downtown/SW to the Northeast. If your commute is from SE to N/NE Portland, this detour is certainly not practical (you wouldn’t cross the Hawthorne or Tillikum to ride Better Naito and then re-cross to the Eastside at Steel.)

    A bold proposal from a city that truly prioritized non-motorized transportation? How about “Better Grand Ave” as an acceptable detour

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Avatar
      X January 14, 2019 at 11:11 am

      There’s nothing approximately like SW Naito with the neutral face on the park on the E side. SE Water has a lot of crossing conflicts, a lot of parking spaces, not much room, and it’s buried behind the RR tracks. Grand Avenue? Trolley tracks, many side streets and curb cuts, freeway attitude. Yipes.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      PS January 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Your “Bold Proposal” is literally the same exact thing as Better Naito, only, well, worse. It is the same distance from the bike path to Grand as it is from the bike path over the Hawthorne to Naito, the similarities end there. I would think most actual commuters, will find the additional 1/2 mile and 5 minutes added to their commute to be a very minor inconvenience.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    mark smith January 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    Someday someone will look at 405 and realize it is much better as a people path/Bus route than what it today. Bold thinking is coming. Someday.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar