Exciting times for Old Town as Broadway Corridor, North Park Blocks projects move forward

    (Source: City of Portland Bureau of Transportation)
    Map of project area looking north.

    It’s not everyday that plans for a new street come across my desk. Read that again: Not new plans for a street. Plans for a new street! Yes, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will finalize designs this year and break ground next year on new streets in Old Town. Specifically, they plan to extend NW Johnson and Kearney Streets from where they currently end at NW 9th about one-tenth of a mile east to NW Station Way/Union Station.

    The work is part of the Broadway Corridor project, a redevelopment of the 34-acre former US Postal Service distribution site being led by Prosper Portland. Not only will this site be home to new commercial and residential units, it will also be a key link in the future Green Loop, a biking and walking path that will eventually ring Portland’s central city. The Broadway Corridor has been in the planning stages since at least 2015 and reached a major milestone last month when demolition of the USPS facility was completed. Now that the slate has been wiped clean, it’s much easier to get excited about building on top of it. It’s even more exciting to see what type of street design PBOT will build when given the chance of starting from scratch.

    On a new website for the NW Johnson & Kearney Street Extension Project, PBOT gives us our most detailed view yet of what we can expect. The conceptual cross-section drawing shows a street with two general lanes, an on-street parking lane, and a wide sidewalk separated from a two-way cycle-track by large trees.

    Check out the latest drawing below of what a brand new NW Johnson Street between 9th and Union Station could look like:

    PBOT says in addition to the extensions of Johnson and Kearney, they will also build new bike lanes on NW 9th between Lovejoy and Johnson (this will create a stronger connection between existing bikeways on the Lovejoy viaduct that connects to the Broadway Bridge and the neighborhood greenway on Johnson).

    To pay for this project, the City of Portland created a local improvement district (LID) with Prosper Portland. A LID is where a group of property owners share the cost of new infrastructure and get generous terms on a long-term loan to pay for it — with the first payment not due until after the project is completed.

    Green shaded rectangles show North Park Blocks extension project area. Red building in lower left is Union Station. View is looking south from NW Lovejoy.

    If you’re as excited about this as I am, you should get plugged into a related project: the North Park Blocks extension being managed by Portland Parks & Recreation. That project will extend the existing linear park that exists between W Burnside and NW Glisan north to Hoyt (behind Pacific Northwest College of Art, which is why some folks refer to this as the “PNCA Block) in order to tie into the Green Loop and Broadway Corridor. The result will be a new, 30,000 square foot park. There’s already an advisory committee that has met and ideas the planning and design process is expected to continue through this fall with construction starting in spring 2026.

    It just so happens that the first community open house for this project is tonight (Thursday, February 29th). Learn what the future will bring and how you can get involved by dropping in any time at PNCA (511 NW Broadway) between 6:00 and 8:00 pm.

    These projects could not be happening at a better time as Old Town emerges from the pandemic and Portlanders begin to demand excellent public spaces where we can enjoy our city.

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