News

PBOT and PSU officials to consider permanently closing Portland State campus street to vehicle traffic
Author: Kenny Ma and John Kirkland, PSU Media and Public Relations
Posted: April 30, 2019

Portland State University, in partnership with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), will open a section of SW Montgomery Street in May to pedestrians only as part the Montgomery Pop-Up Plaza pilot project, which will help officials determine whether to permanently close the block to vehicle traffic.

 The monthlong street reconfiguration will open block of SW Montgomery Street between SW Broadway and SW 6th Avenue in the heart of its downtown campus to people walking, biking, etc. to evaluate the block’s potential as an inclusive and welcoming public space in the heart of campus. The block is surrounded by PSU’s Campus Public Safety and University Services buildings to the north, PSU’s Karl Miller Center to the south and PSU’s Urban Plaza to the east.
 

"We are excited to pilot a new public space for people visiting the Portland State University campus," PBOT Interim Director Chris Warner said. "As always, we will be using a data-driven approach with traffic counts, surveys and other public engagement that will better inform us as we test this street prototype. We're thankful to partner with our colleagues at PSU as we work to implement a better SW Montgomery Street for all."

The goals of the Montgomery Pop-Up are to create a rich and diverse agenda of events and activities which will delight, inspire and educate the community, said Dan Zalkow, PSU associate vice president for planning, construction and real estate.

The pilot project is temporary for the time being. But if it’s a big success, it may become a permanent fixture in the future.

The pilot project will include:

  • Exploring the street’s potential as active campus and community space;
  • Creating a successful precedent that will support the efforts to permanently create a plaza at this location;
  • Gathering feedback from the PSU community during and after the closure to evaluate the feasibility of and desire for a permanent street closure;
  • Creating modular seating that fits into existing parking spaces, designed and built by architecture students at PSU’s Center for Public Interest Design; and
  • Transforming the street by adding moveable seating and picnic tables, temporary lighting, planters, street painting.

The Montgomery Pop-Up will kick-off with an inauguration event on May 1 at noon with PSU leaders — Kevin Reynolds, vice president finance and administration; Stephen Percy, dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs; and Cliff Allen, dean of The School of Business — speaking on the project’s history, aspirations, and how it connects to Portland State’s mission.

The pilot project started with the 2009 Montgomery Green Street Plan, a concept formed by the City of Portland, Portland State and other entities to create a vibrant walkable corridor connecting the West Hills with the Willamette River. The overarching plan was never fully implemented, but the Pop-Up Plaza is a way to test its feasibility — at least on this one-block section.

“With the adjacent PSU Urban Plaza and Park Blocks, turning this particular block of SW Montgomery into a public space for students will really help establish PSU’s heart of campus, better defining the school’s identity in downtown Portland,” said Julia Michel, PSU planning analyst, who is working with PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services to make the plaza a reality.

PBOT’s Portland in the Streets program encourages people to get creative and re-imagine their right-of-way — streets, parking spaces, sidewalks, plazas, alleys, etc. — as places to enjoy and engage with the surrounding community. Through Portland in the Streets, Portlanders become stewards of right-of-way space and build community in ways that are meaningful to each individual neighborhood. Learn more about Portland in the Streets at www.portlandinthestreets.com.

Photo: Rendering of Montgomery Pop-Up Plaza