‘Streetscape project’ celebrated in Gateway

Find out what improvements are now being built along the outer East Portland Halsey/Weidler couplet, in the Gateway Regional Center …

Officials and neighbors meet in the Hazelwood neighborhood to celebrate the progress of the Halsey-Weidler Streetscape Project.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A group gathered to celebrate the $5.5 million Halsey-Weidler Streetscape Project on Thursday morning, February 21, on NE Halsey Street at 103rd Avenue.

Funded by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Fixing Our Streets program, by Prosper Portland, by Transportation System Development Charges, and by the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, the work includes extending curbs into vehicle travel lanes for better pedestrian visibility, marking new crosswalks, adding rapid flashing crossing beacons, and providing better lighting.

This PBOT illustration shows a cross-section of NE 103rd Avenue at Halsey Street.

According to PBOT Interim Director Chris Warner, the Halsey-Weidler Streetscape Project will be “bookended” by special features: Installation of a “festival street” on NE 103rd Avenue between NE Halsey and Clackamas Streets near the west end, and an upgrade of the “East Entry Triangle” near NE 112th Avenue.

GABA President Nidal Kahl calls the construction work a “win for Gateway”.

“This is been a long time coming; it’s such a pleasure to see so many people in what I consider to be the first event here on the new ‘Festival Street’,” smiled Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) President Nidal Kahl. “This is another ‘win’ for Gateway; last year we opened Gateway Discovery Park – and now here we are, with the visual improvements that we spent years working on, as a community.”

This “festival street”, now under construction, will host community events, says GABA President Nidal Kahl.

After the ceremony, and remarks by officials and others, Kahl told East Portland News more about the “festival street” that runs just east of his family’s business, Furniture Plus.

“Before, 103rd Avenue was a potholed gravel road – a pretty dilapidated street,” Kahl reflected. “Now, it’s a massive space where we can actually hold events – here, on the west end of the corridor – providing more space for community events and community engagement!”

While it can also be used for as a street and for parking, NE 103rd Avenue will also serve as a “Festival Street” for community gatherings. PBOT illustration

“I hope that the developers in the city take notice of the basic infrastructure improvements here, including rebuilding streets, extending sidewalks, and making it easy to cross the street. And, I hope that current owners will look to renovate for future development and growth.”

Neighbor Christopher Masciocchi lauds others community activists, such as Linda Robinson and Tom Badrick, for their support of the project.

“I’ve been on the committee for this since the first day,” neighbor Christopher Masciocchi told East Portland News at the celebration.

Having lived in New York, San Francisco, and other places, Masciocchi said he loves and believes in the area. “I feel deeply that the Gateway Regional Center area – even though the concept of it has somewhat languished – is truly where the future of Portland is.

“We need to think of Gateway in a ‘world-class way’, and do world-class work here in terms of design, quality construction, art, and culture, which compels people to make the journey east of the I-205 Freeway to what is becoming an amazing place.”

Improvements benefit both neighbors and businesses, says GABA Board Member Lisa Ortquist, CPA.

Lisa Ortquist of Ortquist and Associates CPA, remarked that her family, with three kids, has lived in the neighborhood for a dozen years, “and our offices have been located here for 20 years; so I feel a genuine connection with the neighborhood.

“My kids of grown up in this neighborhood; and as a family, we’re excited about being able to take bike rides to our Gateway Discovery Park, and the Gateway Green. Now we’re looking forward to having safer paths to get to those places,” she said.

The Halsey-Weidler Streetscape Project is currently under construction.  Most work will be completed by this May, with some planting and other finishing work taking place through this summer.

To learn more about the project, see the official PBOT webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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