The Old Town Business Committee celebrated the installation of a new crosswalk at the intersection of NW 2nd ave and NW Couch st. at their monthly meeting on Thursday, praising the work of the Portland Bureau of Transportation and looking forward to more to come.
“These pedestrian improvements are critical to neighborhood safety- not only for local residents and business employees, but also for our customers in Old Town this Holiday season and throughout the year” said local Bike Shop owner Evan Ross of Cycle Portland, who sits on the business committee and who’s business is a stones throw from the newly improved intersection.
Old Town is going through a serious transformation and has had a significant increase in pedestrian traffic after the opening of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine campus and with an increase in housing units from projects like the Rick Block Apartments redevelopment. Other middle income housing projects are under way in the old Ericson Saloon building and will continue to bring more foot traffic to the neighborhood.
Several more projects either in their permitting stages or under construction will continue to increase the population in the neighborhood, including the development of a new 5 story mixed use building in the “L” shaped lot directly adjacent to the OCOM campus along with two other hotel projects in the neighborhood including the Society Hotel and the Grove Hotel project.
“I think local business owners are starting to raise their collective voice on topics surrounding safety and livability concerns in the neighborhood after years of frustration with high speed traffic coming off the Burnside Bridge unnecessarily risking peoples lives. This is a simple, cost- effective improvement that will make a big difference” says Ross.
Local businesses took center stage this fall by working with Better Block PDX- a coalition of individuals that have come together to create inviting and interactive places that challenge the notion that streets are only for cars – to facilitate a successful street re-design experiment on NW 3rd Ave that improved pedestrian access to businesses. The experiment was born out of the desire from local businesses to create a safer neighborhood while exploring alternatives to the current Entertainment District street closure. The current barricade design has created a noticeable difference in safety, but also a significant drop in revenue as reported by the Old Town Hospitality Committee, a group consisting of local bar and restaurant owners in the neighborhood.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has green-lighted the installation of several more crosswalks in the area, including the intersection of NW 2nd and NW Davis along with having just installed a new stop sign at the intersection of NW 3rd and NW Davis St. One of the only neighborhoods in downtown to lack adequate crosswalks, this will enhance the street-scape in a positive way for all users and create a safe space for holiday shoppers to explore a neighborhood going through a true renaissance.