The 14-acre former United States Postal Service site in northwest Portland current sits vacant and it feels even lonelier after a developer who planned to resurrect it backed out back in October.
But the Portland Bureau of Transportation isn’t letting that stop them from moving forward with their plans to create new streets through what’s known as Broadway Corridor. At City Council this week PBOT is seeking permission to apply for a federal grant through the US Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program. The grant program will award a total of $1.5 billion nationwide.
PBOT will seek $15 million of those funds to build six blocks of streets and one traffic signal. The money would go toward a $22 million project (they already have $7 million in matching funds secured) that will allow the bureau to build new sections of NW Johnson and Kearney streets between 9th and Station Way. According to Broadway Corridor plans, Kearney is envisioned as a future pedestrian-focused greenway through the development. Johnson is already a PBOT neighborhood greenway where bicycling is prioritized and the plan is to continue the route through the development and connect it directly to a new Green Loop path, Union Station and the existing transit mall on 5th and 6th. The project would also build a new traffic signal at NW 9th and Lovejoy.
(Slides from Prosper Portland’s USPS Master Plan, June 2019.)
Existing planning documents show Kearney and Johnson playing major roles in what is likely to be a new mixed-use neighborhood at the site. One conceptual cross-section of NW Johnson (above) shows two wide sidewalks, a protected cycling facility and a two-way street for car drivers next to multi-story buildings. Another sketch shows Kearney as an “organic linear open space” with water features, trees, and no through traffic for drivers. Johnson could be a “woonerf style street” for a full block in the middle of the development. Woonerf is a Dutch term for “living street” and it refers to a place where all street users — whether you are on foot or in a large automobile — are equals and the space is shared. This type of street environment is common in Amsterdam.
Learn more about the project at BroadwayCorridorPDX.com.