Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, Portland, OR
Named for Vera Katz, a former Portland mayor, the Eastbank Esplanade is an innovative urban-renewal project. The scenic pathway is 1.5 miles long and includes a 1,200-foot floating section that rises and falls with the widely fluctuating river levels to meet the need for continuous path in an area without consistent shoreline.
The Esplanade is a crucial link in Portland’s non-motorized transportation and recreation network, connecting several vibrant neighborhoods and busy bridges. It’s also part of the city’s 40-Mile Loop inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted as a way to link park sites and green spaces. Not only is it functional, but it’s also beautiful: the Esplanade’s designer, Mayer/ Reed, won multiple landscape architecture design awards for the project.
With 17% of Portland residents regularly biking for transportation, the Esplanade and the bridges it connects see heavy use by cyclists. After the Eastbank Esplanade opened, bike use on the nearby Steel Bridge increased 220%. On another connecting bridge, the Hawthorne, 21% of all trips are made by bike. If those 7,100 trips were made by car, Portland would have to build another bridge to accommodate the traffic. This heavy bike use supports the city’s vibrant bike industry, which brings in $90 million/year and supplies 1,000 jobs.
• 1.5 miles of trail
• Part of the 40-Mile Loop system
• Constructed Oct. 1998-May 2001
• 2,800 bike trips/day
• City population: 582,130
• Biking increased 220% on connecting bridge
• Bioengineered riverbanks reduce pollution
• Adjacent building was renovated to house 185 jobs, 100 of them new to the city
• 1,050 jobs created by project
• Phase II: CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) funds
• Phase I II: local tax increments
• $30 million total cost
View and download a PDF of the project.