No grassroots transportation group in the city has had the impact Better Block PDX has mustered lately. Earlier this year, a protected bike lane on Naito Parkway the group spearheaded last year nearly became permanent (that ended when a business tax hike proposed by Mayor Charlie Hales went down in flames). Now, a public plaza Better Block created briefly on SW 3rd Avenue in 2014 is going to be a city fixture.
Beginning tomorrow, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will begin altering a section of 3rd between Burnside and Ash—near the Paris Theater, Voodoo Doughnut, and Ankeny Alley. The bureau will remove angled parking on the east side of the super-wide road, it says, and replace it with a public plaza filled with planters and cafe tables: Ankeny Plaza. (Before you flip out over parking, PBOT's going to create spaces parallel with the street. We've asked how many.)
"This project first came onto PBOT’s radar when Better Block PDX and businesses in Old Town Chinatown held a three-day demonstration in October 2014," PBOT says in an announcement of the project. "The event’s success led to further collaboration between PBOT and the local neighborhood and business associations."
The alterations mark the second time PBOT's followed Better Block's lead on SW 3rd. Last year, the bureau turned an all-purpose traffic lane on the road into a buffered bike lane between Burnside and Stark—a concept that the volunteer transportation group had shown could work a year prior. The city's about to begin work later this month on a similar project on NW and SW 2nd Avenue.
"These projects are all relatively low cost, as they are primarily striping projects, but we anticipate that these changes will have a significant impact on the look, feel and use of these streets; making them safer and easier to navigate for all road users," the PBOT announcement says.
The plaza project will costs a little over $102,000, much of it in the form of a Portland Development Commission grant to the Ankeny Alley Association, which manages the existing plaza on the closed off stretch of SW Ankeny between 2nd and 3rd. The association will manage the new plaza space as well. PBOT's also going to install a new crosswalk at Ankeny and 3rd, and will install a Biketown bike share station on Monday (the system launches next Tuesday).
Here's what the roadway looks like now:
And what PBOT says it will look like after a ribbon cutting in August.