Texas Green Street

SW Texas: Street of ‘Greens’

printed in June 2008 SWNI News Does your car sport a worn spot in the fabric above your head from hitting potholes? You might want to visit SW Texas St., just off Capitol Hwy between 26th and 29th. Through an innovative pilot project called Green Streets, residents of Texas and adjacent streets have pavement. They also have a sidewalk, wildflower and rock berms, a new park nearby -- and dry basements.

Dollars and sense

Neighbors twice voted down conventional paving of SW Texas St., mostly because of high costs to a small number of residents. With the advent of halo LIDs (Local Improvement Districts), costs are equitably distributed among a greater number of neighbors according to benefit. Neighbors on adjacent streets don’t have new pavement, but they benefit from stormwater management and a new public park. They pay about a quarter of the fees assessed to SW Texas residents.

How Green Streets work

The ditches on the side of SW Texas form the headwaters of the Stephens Creek watershed. If the street had been built conventionally, basement flooding and water quality issues would have persisted. Neighbors realized that the street condition reflected not just a transportation problem, but a watershed issue as well. To address both issues, neighbors advocated for a unique partnership with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the Portland Department of Transportation (PDOT). Bioswales, which are specially engineered ditches on the side of the street, receive rain flowing off the asphalt. Rocks and native plants slow the water down. Water is directed to a wetland area acquired as part of the project. This allows rain to seep underground in a safe place, rather than flowing over the surface toward neighbors’ basements.

Neighbors drive project

Residents Dan Manning and Matt Emlen knocked on about 50 doors to get the word out to neighbors. When on-the-ground work diverged from design plans, neighbors called on Commissioner Adams to bring together the bureau partners and residents to put the project back on track. The result, says Manning, is a very attractive project engineered for “the next 100 years.”