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Portland, Ore. – Festival Streets

The Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) recently completed work on two Festival Streets, a new experiment that uses traffic calming and unique streetscape features to create a street that can easily be converted to public use on weekends or for special events. Here, Ellen Vanderslice (PDOT Project Management) and Lloyd D. Lindley (Urban Designer/Landscape Architect) explain a few of the street's pedestrian features and why it is so important for the surrounding Old Town/Chinatown community.


[intro music]

Ellen Vanderslice: [00:07] We’re standing here on the Davis Festival Street. It’s one of two Festival Streets that we’re building… building right now as a matter of fact as part of the old town Chinatown 3rd and 4th Avenue streetscape project. The whole streetscape project that redevelops all this area is something the community wanted for a long time. And when they sat down and started working on what would actually be done, one of the things they identified was that there was really a lack of public space.


Lloyd D. Lindley: [00:32] In Portland we’ve tried to get as much out of our streets as we possibly can, for example, developing streets that do more than just drive and park cars. So what we’ve tried to do is create a hybrid street that functions for cars, functions for parking, but at the same time can be conveniently closed off and function as a small piazza, a small plaza for festivals and functions that the local neighbourhood can engage in. Some of the things that get in the way with a standard street are things like curbs, light poles, fire hydrants, all kinds of utilities. And those kinds of things typically get in the way of a really clean pedestrian environment. What you might also see here that you don’t see on a typical intersection is a very flat open area. What this does is provide a very pedestrian oriented kind of intersection for people who may have maybe wheelchair bound, they have an easy way to access this place. And it also creates an even transition from the street into the inner plaza area. Right over here these are large plinths and what these are going to be for are art installations. They also function to direct traffic and control and slow down traffic as it enters this place. The plantings are actually an extension of the Chinese garden. Some years ago we opened our classical Chinese garden and what we’ve tried to do is bring the plant material such as palm trees out into the street.


[music]

Ellen Vanderslice: [02:24] This is really an experiment for the Portland Office of Transportation and if it goes well I think there are a lot of people around this city that would like to see this implemented in other places. I think that any time you make a space that doesn’t say right off the bat first of all I’m for cars, that you make a place that really says I’m for people, that that in itself contributes to the liveability. But I think there’s something more that we’re looking at here and that is that the making of this place is more than just about the concrete and the granite and the surfaces that we’re putting here and the beautiful design that we have, it’s really about finding a way to create community, the activity of managing these streets and the fact that the community has to form some kind of an entity to… to manage the Festival Streets, that is part of building this community.

[music]

http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • John Owen

    Great Film.

    We are curious abut whether this design has caused any maintenance problems. E.g.: no curb for the street sweeper to brush aganist.

    Thanks,

    John Owen