Pedestrians will no longer need to skirt passing cars along Naito Parkway to reach Waterfront events.

COURTESY PHOTO: TIMUR ENDER, PBOT - The way ot was: Event goers walk along the grass and in the bike lane on SW Naito Parkway in 2015, prior to the implementation of Better Naito. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has begun work on what it's calling "Better Naito Forever," a new extra wide two-way bikeway and accessible sidewalk along Naito Parkway.

The project will make a permanent two-way protected space along Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park between the Hawthorne and Steel bridges. Previously, fences squeezed people off the grass, requiring people to walk in the bike lane. This project will create a permanent two-way bikeway for people biking and riding e-scooters by converting the easternmost northbound driving lane.

In a statement, PBOT stressed the $4 million project is funded by Fixing Our Streets fund, which is dedicated to Central City bikeways.

The project began in 2015 as a joint effort with Better Block PDX and the Portland Rose Festival. Crews installed a series of plastic poles in the road to help direct traffic. Those poles became permanent in 2020.

The plan also calls for improved traffic signals which dynamically adjust to vehicle queues, according to PBOT, while minimizing impacts to northbound drivers.

COURTESY IMAGE: TIMUR ENDER, PBOT - A digital illustration of the future Better Naito Forever project looking north at Southwest Harvey Milk Street. The project is funded primarily by Fixing Our Streets.City Commissioners approved a plan in 2016 to make Better Naito an official City program, The Better Naito Forever project was one of several projects adopted by City Council in 2018.

"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."

Work began Monday, March 22. Construction requires the closure of Better Naito. Pedestrians and bikers are being detoured onto the Waterfront Path between Southwest Jefferson and Northwest Davis streets. The northbound vehicular lane on Naito Parkway between Jefferson and Davis will also be closed for construction, with detours to Southwest Second Avenue at Clay Street.

PBOT plans to complete Better Naito Forever by the end of 2021.

The SW Naito Improvement Project includes many other changes to road surfaces, ramps and lights and will total $12 million.

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