East Portland

Mayor: Paving may not be the answer for all of our gravel roads

Mayor: Paving may not be the answer for all of our gravel roads »Play Video
Residents built a community garden, near NE 70th Avenue and Alberta Street, next to an unpaved street in Northeast Portland’s Cully Neighborhood. PSU students are planning to go door-to-door in the Cully area and near Southeast Division Street in the in East Portland area to see if residents are interested expanding such uses and potentially getting city help to make them permitted. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has asked the Transportation Bureau to explore a new project that would help neighborhoods use unpaved streets. Photo by Denver Igarta /Portland Bureau of Transportation

PORTLAND, Ore. - For years, 60 miles of unpaved roads have been an inconvenience for people in outlying neighborhoods, and an embarrassment to the City of Portland.

Mayor Charlie Hales campaigned on the promise of getting back to basics, like paving roads. While neighbors await the asphalt, the city has an interim strategy to harness some of the creativity that's going on right now.

You see, some folks have taken the initiative to create garden plots, rest areas and develop other community uses along these roads and Hales has taken notice. He is directing the Portland Bureau of Transportation to gather input on how the city can empower communities to help determine what their neighborhoods look like. The city says many homeowners have told them that rather than an expensive paving project, they would prefer lower cost alternatives.

"Too often, the city comes at a problem with a one-size-fits-all approach," said Hales. "But when we have dozens of miles of public space taken up by streets that predate the city's development rules, that the city can't maintain, we should allow neighborhoods the flexibility to create appropriate uses for these public spaces."

The city is partnering with Portland State University to find out what residents think. Students will be asking folks what options they would like to consider.

"This is very much an idea still in the exploratory stage," said Hales. "We may find no interest or we may find a lot of excitement to transform gravel roads into something both functional and appealing to the neighborhood."

If residents like this idea, the next step will be to figure out what four streets would make the best pilot projects. There are two community meetings coming up next month to share ideas or concerns:

Monday, Nov. 4
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
East Portland Community Center
Poolside Room #1
740 S.E. 106th Avenue
Wednesday, Nov. 13
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Hollywood Library
Community Meeting Room
4040 N.E. Tillamook Street