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PSU moves toward permanent car ban on SW Montgomery

Posted by on September 24th, 2019 at 1:11 pm

SW Montgomery from 6th Avenue as seen today with a brand new layer of pavement.
(Photo: Tim Davis/

Pretty much every time people are treated to urban space that’s free from motor vehicles, they embrace it and want to make it last forever. That appears to be what’s happening on Southwest Montgomery between 6th and Broadway.

“If the fall closure is successful, the university hopes Montgomery Street will receive approval for permanent closure.”
— Portland State University

This single block of the Portland State University campus is bordered on both sides by spaces where driving is already prohibited and concerned Portlanders have pushed for over two years to keep drivers and their cars off of it.

PSU conducted a month-long pilot project in May that tested out the driving ban and they say it proved this block of Montgomery, “is successful as a pedestrian campus public space.”

After tabulating survey results and hosting multiple events in the space, PSU asked the City of Portland for another permit to keep the carfree party going. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has granted their request and PSU now plans to prohibit car use and parking on this block of Montgomery from now through the end of fall term on January 6th, 2020.

But that’s not all. The writing is on the wall to make it permanent. “If the fall closure is successful, the university hopes Montgomery Street will receive approval for permanent closure,” PSU states on their website.


Here’s more from PSU:

“The latest installment of the Montgomery Street Pop-Up will serve as an open public space that will occasionally hold events rather than a daily programmed space that was seen in May. The street will once again have street furniture and see the return of PSU Center for Public Interest Design’s modular red/white furniture named “ROSSO” and box planters on either end of the street.

All of these features will improve the on-campus pedestrian experience, create a public space that strengthens campus identity in downtown Portland and promotes walking and biking as modes of transportation over vehicular use.”

If you’ve been by the street recently you’ll note that it just got repaved. To help decide what the plaza will look like, PSU’s Campus Planning Office will host a design charrette at the site from 1:00 to 5:00 pm on October 11th.

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

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ponchoFredjamieResopmokDouglas K. Recent comment authors
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It’s the least they could do to compensate for the lost greenspace where the new building went in.

Steve Hash
Steve Hash

I still dream about Lombard car-free thru “downtown” St. Johns.

Douglas K.
Douglas K.

I hope this happens. It could be one more step in transforming Montgomery into a pedestrian street from the Park Blocks all the way to the waterfront.


Too bad money and resources were already spent repaving, the space would be well-suited with the color green instead. It may not seem like much, but we need a many oxygen producing plants as we can get these days..


Wish I could get excited about this news, but the street is tiny, and soon PSU will put up signs saying the equivalent of “Cyclists dismount.” I would be seriously excited if, say, 1st Ave were made into a car-free street.