New late-night ban on vehicles starts in Old Town

New late-night ban on vehicles starts in Old Town

PORTLAND, Ore. - Some streets in Old Town will close to traffic Friday night as part of the new Entertainment District designed to reduce traffic congestion during the busy nightlife hours.

The E-District, as it's called, covers Northwest Couch and Davis (between 2nd and 4th Avenues) and Northwest Third (between Everett and Burnside).

The streets will close from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and major holidays. If you park there during those hours, you could get towed.

Also, the streets and sidewalks will be for pedestrians only - no bikes allowed. There is an exception to the rules - taxi cabs, limousines and pedi-cabs will have a designated area to pick up passengers.

So why is the city doing this?

The sidewalks in the area often become crowded on Friday and Saturday nights as folks enjoying a night out on the town overflow on to the streets. Add vehicles to the mix and it can be a recipe for danger. Also, according to Mayor Sam Adams, it's the place where police are called to most on the weekends.

"Some weekend nights, especially towards nicer weather, we have 10,000 to 20,000 people going from bar to bar, night club to night club," Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau said. "So by preventing vehicle traffic, we eliminate the chance of pedestrian and vehicle-related conflicts."

The street closures would extend the sidewalks quite a bit and give everyone a little breathing room. Right now, when the clubs and bars in the area get packed and there are long lines of people waiting to get in, it can be hard for folks to get through.

Police will have a special detail in Old Town Friday night to make sure the new E-District gets off to a good start.

The closures will be in place through April 1. The city will then re-evaluate the plan with businesses and people who live in the area to see if it is working.