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News Release: Construction begins on Better Naito Forever, a premier bikeway and new accessible sidewalk along Waterfront Park

News Article
Construction on SW Naito Parkway Improvement Project begins new phase.
Funded by Fixing Our Streets, both projects will make it easier and safer to walk and bike downtown and on the waterfront.
Published
A digital illustration of the future Better Naito Forever project looking north at SW Harvey Milk Street. The project is funded primarily by Fixing Our Streets.
A digital illustration of the future Better Naito Forever project looking north at SW Harvey Milk Street. The project is funded primarily by Fixing Our Streets.
Fixing Our Streets: Your Dime At Work logo featuring wrenches and roses on a pink background

(March 18, 2021) Construction on the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Better Naito Forever project begins on Monday, March 22. The project will build the permanent version of Better Naito, the protected space for pedestrians and cyclists traveling to and along Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

PBOT first piloted Better Naito with Better Block PDX and the Portland Rose Festival in 2015. After the project showed success in terms of providing increased safety and mobility, City Council unanimously voted in November 2016 to make Better Naito an official City program and directed PBOT to implement it by providing funding to sustain the project for 5 summers.

Event goers walk along the grass and in the bike lane on SW Naito Parkway in 2015, prior to the implementation of Better Naito. Photo by Timur Ender, PBOT.
Event goers walk along the grass and in the bike lane on SW Naito Parkway in 2015, prior to the implementation of Better Naito. Photo by Timur Ender, PBOT.
Better Naito Forever Logo

The Better Naito Forever project was one of eighteen projects included in the Central City in Motion plan, adopted by City Council in 2018. The project will make a permanent two-way protected space along Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park between the Hawthorne and Steel bridges. Prior to Better Naito, people were often forced to walk in the bike lane, squeeze onto narrow dirt paths, or bike in a travel lane with motor vehicles to travel along the corridor or reach Waterfront Park events.

The project will upgrade traffic signals to detect and dynamically adjust to vehicle queues, minimizing impacts to northbound drivers. PBOT will also build new, dedicated pedestrian routes including sidewalks to connect the gaps between existing sidewalks on the west side of Waterfront Park as well as shorter crossings on Naito Parkway. This project will create a permanent two-way bikeway for people biking and riding e-scooters by converting the easternmost northbound auto lane. View a digital fly-through of the project design by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPDn73aO1UI

Better Block PDX volunteers together in the newly installed Better Naito in 2015. Photo courtesy of Better Block PDX.
Better Block PDX volunteers together in the newly installed Better Naito in 2015. Photo courtesy of Better Block PDX.

“Seeing Better Naito, a community-initiated project, become a permanent fixture in the heart of downtown shows what we can achieve as a city when we work together,” said Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “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.”

“We would not be here today without the partnership of organizations like the Portland Rose Festival, who, alongside PBOT, embraced the vision of an upstart group of volunteers to expand access to Waterfront Park and make travel safer along SW Naito Parkway,” said Transportation Director Chris Warner. “The addition of Better Naito Forever to Portland’s waterfront will make Downtown a more welcome and accessible place for all.”

“Better Naito has proved a valuable addition to Portland’s waterfront,” said Jeff Curtis, Rose Festival Chief Executive Officer. “As we shared earlier this week, Rose Festival’s big outdoor events will return in 2022 and we are thrilled that an improved SW Naito Parkway will be ready. We look forward to when we can all celebrate together again with improved access to Portland’s Waterfront in 2022.”

A digital rendering of Better Naito Forever at SW Taylor Street.
A digital rendering of Better Naito Forever at SW Taylor Street.

The start of construction of Better Naito Forever requires the closure of Better Naito. Pedestrians and people biking will be detoured onto the Waterfront Path between SW Jefferson Street and NW Davis Street. The northbound vehicular lane on Naito Parkway between SW Jefferson and NW Davis will also be closed for construction. People driving northbound on SW Naito will be detoured from Naito onto SW 2nd Avenue beginning at SW Clay Street. These detours will be in place throughout construction of Better Naito Forever, which PBOT plans to complete by the end of 2021.

Better Naito Forever is primarily funded by Fixing Our Streets funds dedicated to Central City bikeways. The total project budget is $4 million.

In addition to starting work on Better Naito Forever, the SW Naito Improvement Project will move into a new phase of construction. While PBOT and its contractors have coordinated traffic control between the projects, Portlanders should expect delays when traveling on Naito Parkway. Beginning Monday, active construction zones on both Naito Parkway projects will stretch from SW Harrison to NW Davis streets.

Work continues on Fixing Our Streets-funded SW Naito Improvement Project

The SW Naito Improvement Project has significant improvements stretching from I-405 to SW Jefferson Street and the Hawthorne Bridge onramp currently underway. From I-405 to SW Harrison Street, the street will be ground down and repaved. Beginning at SW Harrison and extending north to SW Jefferson, SW Naito is in the process of being completely rebuilt from the road base on up. The project will also construct a two-way separated off-street path between SW Harrison and SW Jefferson Street on the east side of SW Naito Parkway. Among the improvements are traffic signal upgrades at SW Harrison, Columbia, Market, Jefferson and Clay streets, a new pedestrian signal midblock between SW Harrison and SW Market Street, and a pedestrian and bicycle crossing at the new SW Jefferson Street traffic signal with connections to Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

The SW Naito Improvement Project is primarily funded by Fixing Our Streets funds. The total project budget is $12 million.

Beginning Monday morning at 7 a.m., PBOT’s contractor will transition two-way traffic to the newly paved westside of the roadway, maintaining local access while creating a safe work zone for SW Naito Parkway's northbound lanes. These changes will allow crews to safely perform necessary demolition, construction, and paving along the east side of Naito Parkway. This phase is expected to last through August 2021, with completion of the SW Naito Parkway Improvement Project between SW Harrison and Jefferson streets slated for Fall 2021.

As part of the SW Naito Improvement Project and in partnership with Multnomah County, PBOT will also be installing a new traffic signal on the Hawthorne Bridge onramp to improve traffic operations for vehicles approaching from SW Naito Parkway. This will temporarily limit eastbound travel on the Hawthorne Bridge to the center lane only. This work is currently scheduled to begin April 19.

Crews are rebuilding SW Naito Parkway from its dirt base between SW Jefferson and SW Harrison streets. Photo by PBOT.
Crews are rebuilding SW Naito Parkway from its dirt base between SW Jefferson and SW Harrison streets. Photo by PBOT.

When complete the Better Naito Forever project and the SW Naito Improvement Project will connect seamlessly. Watch a video fly-through showing the two projects final designs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPDn73aO1UI

Detour information for northbound travelers on SW Naito Parkway from SW Harrison to NW Davis streets:

Pedestrians: Sidewalks on the west side of SW Naito Parkway remain open. The Waterfront Path is also available between SW Clay Street and NW Davis Street. People seeking to access the Waterfront Path may find some crosswalks closed during construction, but if you encounter a closed crossing, the next adjacent crossing will be open unless otherwise noted.

People biking: For riders entering SW Naito Parkway via SW Barbur Boulevard, turn right at SW Harrison Street and turn right at South Harbor Drive to ride the multiuse path north to South Harbor Way and Waterfront Park. The Waterfront Path is available between SW Clay Street and NW Davis Street.  

Transit riders: There will continue to be some impacts to TriMet buses, including some temporary stop closures. TriMet's Trip Planner and TransitTracker has the latest for transit users on the corridor. There is no impact to the Portland Streetcar.

People driving: Beginning at SW Lincoln Street, two-way traffic will be directed to the newly paved westside of the roadway until SW Clay Street. People driving northbound on SW Naito will be detoured at SW Clay Street onto SW 2nd Avenue, as the northbound vehicular lane on Naito Parkway between SW Jefferson and NW Davis will be closed for construction.

We ask the public to travel cautiously, observe all lane detours and directions by temporary traffic signals and flaggers, and use alternate routes if possible. PBOT greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of nearby residents and businesses. Learn what you can expect in our work zones and how you can help everyone stay safe by watching this video: https://youtu.be/lx3RkJjkjSE

Work on both projects is weather dependent and subject to change. As these projects progress, Portlanders can expect additional detours and lane closures. PBOT encourages users of Naito Parkway to sign up to receive the latest construction updates on the SW Naito Parkway Improvement Project or Better Naito Forever project pages. 

Special note regarding COVID-19 and construction work

PBOT has been in modified operations since March 17, 2020 and has implemented specific measures to ensure the safety of our crews and contractors. We're focused on delivering critical repairs and maintenance while taking specific steps to keep our workforce safe. These include modified shifts, social distancing, and other precautions based on current guidelines from local, state, and federal health officials. Thank you for giving our crews the space and time they need to keep our city moving.