BikePortland

$4 million ‘Better Naito’ project will break ground Monday


Coming soon: Sidewalk, green lanes, concrete curbs, updated signals.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“As we look ahead to reinvigorating our city post-pandemic, I hope to see more collaborative initiatives like this across our city.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, transportation commissioner

Nearly six years after the idea was first hatched, the Portland Bureau of Transportation says they’ll break ground on Better Naito this coming Monday.

Once complete, the $4 million project will connect to other changes already under construction on Naito to the south and north to create a key new linkage through Portland’s central city. Add the coming neighborhood greenway on NW Flanders and existing paths on bridges and the Esplanade and you’ve got the bones of a pretty darn good — and mostly protected — low-stress central city cycling network.

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It’s been a long and twisted journey for Better Naito — from an idea partly inspired by a shooting at a summer festival in Waterfront Park, to what the Portland Bureau of Transportation refers to as “a premier bikeway.”

After gaining attention with local elected officials due to a dire lack of space for walkers in the park adjacent to Naito Parkway during festival season, the project was kickstarted in 2015 by a “tactical urbanism” demonstration carried out by volunteers with Better Block PDX. Those volunteers ended up working hand-in-hand with PBOT and the idea to make the changes permanent won unanimous support from city council in October of last year.

(Project renderings of southwest and northwest Better Naito projects.)

The full Better Naito consists of a new, two-way protected mobility lane for non-drivers on the east side of Naito for over one mile between SW Harrison and NW Couch (the portion from Harrison to the Hawthorne Bridge is a separate, $12 million project). Plans also call for a new sidewalk on the west side of Waterfront Park. Wary of travel time delays for car drivers, PBOT will update traffic signals to minimize impacts for northbound drivers. (Aside: Some advocates hoped PBOT would claim all northbound lanes on Naito for the mobility lane and make the western section two-way for drivers, but alas, that was not to be. Yet.)

Check out the flyover visuals to see what’s in store:

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PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said in a statement yesterday she liked the collaborative genesis of the project. “Partnerships between city government, community based organizations, and the private sector can bring out the best of Portland. As we look ahead to reinvigorating our city post-pandemic, I hope to see more collaborative initiatives like this across our city.”

Construction is expected last through the summer and wrap-up in December 2021.

Learn more via official project pages:
SW Naito Improvement Project
Better Naito Forever

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