Portland to test Old Town auto ban

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland Mayor Sam Adams wants the city to consider converting an Old Town section into a "pedestrian-only" area on weekends.

Adams is proposing a pilot program that would close Northwest Third Avenue between Northwest Everett and Burnside streets to auto traffic on Fridays, Saturdays and "major holidays" between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. The program would also close one block on "each of the perpendicular feeder streets" Northwest Third Avenue and Couch and Davis streets.

The program aims to make it safer for those hitting bars and nightclubs in part of Portland's so-called Entertainment District.

"On weekends, the Old Town Entertainment District (E-District) sees thousands of visitors as it turns into a hotbed of nightlife activity," Adams wrote in a city website post Tuesday. "This kind of vibrancy contributes greatly to Portland's character, but the sheer volume of people, density of bars, and the centrality of alcohol consumption makes weekend nights active for law enforcement downtown as well."

Five of the six spots that generate the most police calls within the Old Town area are within those blocks, Adams said. Many such calls relate to pedestrians hit by motorists.

"The Portland Team discovered that establishing a pedestrian-only area in an E-District during hours of high pedestrian traffic can enhance safety and reduce calls for service in other cities around the country and in Canada," Adams wrote.

Those who park within the district during the street closure hours would be towed.

The pilot would last for 180 days, in two phases.

Adams said the city worked with local businesses to develop the plan.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU News partner.

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