Esplanade closure begins February 1st

PBOT: Better Naito will return three months early this year

Posted by on January 11th, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Surprise! It’s Better Naito!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has found a way to bring back Better Naito sooner than anyone expected.

The agency announced today that Naito Parkway will be upgraded with a protected lane for bicycling and walking from January 28th through the end of September. The early opening comes as the ever-opportunistic PBOT jumped on a chance to provide a safer and more comfortable detour for an upcoming closure of the Eastbank Esplanade.

In a statement today, PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said this early opening of Better Naito is, “An important first step in the implementation of projects within the Central City in Motion Plan… Community members have requested quick implementation of the projects within the plan, and we are listening. I look forward to more progress in 2019, 2020 and beyond.”

Portland Parks and Recreation will close the Esplanade between the Hawthorne and Steel bridges for two months beginning February 1st. The project will allow them to perform maintenance and repairs on the popular multi-use path.

PBOT says in working with Parks to come up with viable detour, they decided Better Naito would be the best option.


PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer told us this morning that instead of taking the posts and signage down after the Parks closure, they’ll simply keep it up through summer. This is a nod to Better Naito’s popularity and success in several years of a pilot project first sparked by tactical urbanist group Better Block PDX in 2015.

PBOT is moving forward on a permanent Better Naito as outlined in the recently adopted Central City in Motion Plan (Project #17). Schafer said today that design work has started on the $4 million project that will include a two-way cycletrack and sidewalk along the west side of Waterfront Park. The public outreach process will start this spring (made much better by having Better Naito in place simultaneously!). PBOT still needs to find $1 million to build the CCIM project, but Schafer says they’re confident it will come through.

See our latest post for more information on the Esplanade closure.

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

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  • maccoinnich January 11, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    The early return is good, but…. just two months ago City Council gave PBOT clear direction to make Better Naito permanent. Why are they planning on uninstalling it in September?

    Given the glacial speed of PBOT project delivery it’s probably not likely that they’ll have a design ready to build by the end of this season, but that’s no reason to remove the plastic wands. They should be left in place until the city is ready to build the permanent iteration.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      Because politics. I think if we play cards right it might just stay open.

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      • maccoinnich January 12, 2019 at 2:18 pm

        It’s bad politics though. Instead of taking a one time hit from the people who oppose Better Naito they take an annual hit.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 13, 2019 at 9:44 am

          Yes I agree it’s bad politics. Better Naito could have been a huge political win for Wheeler when he needed one badly (pick your moment from the past two years)… But he never grabbed it. Missed opportunity.

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    • Aaron January 13, 2019 at 8:28 pm

      According to the Eastbank Espalande Maintenance Project site (
      “Contingent on final funding for a permanent bikeway on SW Naito Parkway, Better Naito will remain in place until the planned permanent Better Naito project begins as part of the City Council-approved Central City in Motion plan. Construction is slated to begin in Summer 2020.”

      This seems to suggest they’re not planning on closing it in September?!

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      • maccoinnich January 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

        I was excited but your comment… but can’t find that text on the page you linked to. Was it removed?

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  • Andrew Kreps January 11, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Ok super yay! I wish it wasn’t accompanied by the esplanade closure, though it a lot better than a 1/3rd year closure in mid-summer. Ahem.

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    • kate January 11, 2019 at 2:20 pm

      yeah….better naito is a great detour for folks who stay on the eastside and need to get down to omsi 😛

      (joking, of course)

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      • Andrew Kreps January 11, 2019 at 3:46 pm

        oh yeah, I hear you on that. I was referring to better naito being open a full 3 months ahead of schedule.

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  • bikeninja January 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Is that the sound of heads exploding down at the PBA that I hear?

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    • mh January 11, 2019 at 3:35 pm

      My fantasy does not go that far because I’m not much of an optimist, but I can imagine them all developing headaches. That’s all the gratification I need.

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  • TK January 11, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Why again is Better Naito something that has to go away and then be brought back to much fanfare and excitement? If you’re a pizza parlor, you don’t “bring back” pepperoni, you keep it on the menu all year round.

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    • Dan A January 11, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Is Better Naito like pepperoni, or is it more like the McRib? Beloved by some, but confusing to others.

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    • Andrew Kreps January 11, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      If a pizza parlor were run by the city, they would bring pepperoni back every summer for 5 years according to a formulated plan, then they might consider making it a year-round addition.

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Better Naito! (oh yeah, and Worser[sic] Eastbank)

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  • Carter January 11, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Do we know what they’re doing to the Esplanade? Fixing those terrible “speed bumps” where the path bifurcates between the Morrison and Burnside bridges? Installing cameras to catch the constant graffiti scribblers under the Morrison bridge? I ride that segment almost every day and can’t think of what more needs fixing.

    Obligatory: Yay, Better Naito.

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  • Tom Howe January 11, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    The start of “The Luck of the Irish” bike ride on March 17 is at the Vera Katz statue on the Eastbank Esplanade:

    This appears to be outside the closure area, as the statue is at SE Main St. which is a block South of Salmon St. And at any rate, the Esplanade will be open on March 17 for the Shamrock Run (the bike ride takes place afterwards). The Esplanade will also be open on February 20 for The Worst Day of the Year ride.

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