By Nancy Tannler
The Green Loop was approved in 2012 by City Council as part of the Central City 2035 Plan. It is a six-mile, linear park and active transportation path that will connect people through the heart of the Central City.
The Green Loop concept will promote more walking, biking, rolling, jogging and public transit trips for all Portlanders and will contribute to a smaller city-wide carbon footprint.
Keith Jones, Executive Director of The Friends of the Green Loop said, “A lot of the visioning occurred during the Central City 2035 process.”
He said the main precedents are the Indianapolis Cultural Trail (Indianapolis, IN), the 5280 Trail (Denver, CO), Underline (Miami, FL), Highline (NYC, NY) and the 606 (Chicago, IL).
Using these models and others throughout the world, a 2016 analysis by NERC, an economic research team based at Portland State University, produced substantial evidence that shows how active transportation infrastructure positively effects business districts’ prosperity and economic vitality.
It further stated that they are proven to have positive impacts on property values, reductions in crime and an increased sense of connectivity by having more community engagement.
To encourage more biking, the Green Loop will have dedicated biking and walking lanes. Portland already has one of the nation’s highest percentage of bicycle commuters with a 7.2 percent work commute rate.
Most people aren’t that confident riding in the inner city, so this will create a safe place for recreational riders.
“The Green Loop is much more than a transportation project. It is deeply connected to travel and tourism, economic development and resiliency,” Jones said.
Portland’s Tourism Master Plan 2018, states that the Green Loop experience would create a “whole city” connection for visitors, group business and residents.
“Imagine being a visitor to Portland and being able to walk or jump on a scooter or bikeshare and experience local businesses and communities along the Green Loop – all without needing cars or additional parking,” Jones said.
This connector would open up to other greenways and further exploration of Portland’s neighborhoods.
The Green Loop will potentially support businesses and social services by improving access to places where people can get the staples and support they need.
Central City is home to 60 percent of Portland’s affordable housing units. This area also has the largest concentration of social services and care providers in the city, especially shelter facilities.
In addition, a third of Portland’s jobs are in the Central City, and more than 50,000 new jobs are coming in the next two decades.
Building the Green Loop offers a chance to harness opportunities for more people at all income levels to work in the Central City and call it home.
Each quadrant of the city was taken into account when the Central City Plan was being adopted and the SE quadrant has the unique factor of being an industrial sanctuary or IG zoning.
When asked how this will effect this land use, Kate Merrill, Executive Director of Central Eastside Industrial Council said, “We don’t see it as a major conflict, as long as we can keep our major north/south freight corridors (7th Ave, MLK/Grand, Water Ave), and maintain a transportation infrastructure that supports urban manufacturing and distribution.”
Merrill went on to say that the Green Loop creates opportunities for freight innovation, like using bicycle freight, plus the added bonus of more green areas for employees working in the area.
A tentative time line shows the project being completed by 2022. PBOT was unavailable to confirm this projected end date.