Rose Quarter environmental assessment ready for public comment

For more information, contact Don Hamilton, 503-704-7452, don.hamilton@odot.state.or.us

PORTLAND – The Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland invite the public to comment on the environmental assessment findings released Friday for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project.

This project proposes investments in new infrastructure in the heart of Portland including safety and operational improvements that include highway covers over I-5 to replace and seismically upgrade existing bridges, new bicycle and pedestrian crossings and new ramp-to-ramp connections and safety shoulders on I-5.

The project recently reached an important milestone with the release of the environmental assessment, a required step in project development. The study and technical references are available at http://i5rosequarter.org/.

The study took a comprehensive look at the project’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood and city. The issues experts looked at include: safety, biking, walking and public transit access, traffic operations, air quality, climate change, environmental justice, historic resources, noise, water quality, hazardous materials, and right of way, among others.

Working together, ODOT and the City of Portland have created multiple opportunities for the public to comment on the project. To make it easy for as many people as possible to comment, the agencies have also extended the public response period to 45 days. Normally public responses are only accepted for 30 days. The public comment period will close on Monday, April 1 at 5 p.m

The agencies will host community events during the public comment period, including an open house and a public hearing to provide opportunities for oral and written testimony. For those interested in learning more or commenting via the internet, an online open house will be available on the project’s website for the duration of the public comment period.

Ways to provide comment include:

  • Email – info@i5RoseQuarter.org
  • Mail – ODOT, Attn: Megan Channell 123 N.W. Flanders St. Portland, OR, 97209
  • Phone – Leave a recorded verbal comment at 503-423-3760
  • Drop-in Open House – Thursday March 7, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Leftbank Annex – Clubroom, 101 N. Weidler St., Portland
  • Public Hearing – Tuesday, March 12; sign up to speak 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event begins 5 p.m. with a presentation followed by public comment, Oregon Convention Center, Room A108, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland.
  • Online Open House – Friday, Feb. 15 through 5 p.m. Monday, April 1 at i5rosequarter.org

The environmental assessment found:

  • Improved safety for all transportation modes – New crossings over I-5, protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks, improved striping and upgraded signals would mean safer local streets and new connections for everyone. On I-5, new shoulders would give disabled vehicles a way to get out of travel lanes and new ramp-to-ramp connections will mean less stop and go traffic, less emergency braking and more time and space for drivers to merge, which will reduce frequent crashes and improve travel times.
  • Improved air quality – The assessment modeled air pollutant emissions, which found that air quality would slightly improve with the project, as compared to not building the project. The estimated reduction in emissions caused by the project would likely be due to the higher speeds and less idling on the highway and reduced congestion from the project. Building the project “is not expected to cause air quality impacts nor contribute to cumulative effects on air quality beyond temporary construction effects, which would be addressed by requiring contractors to implement a variety of mitigation measures.”
  • Slightly decreased carbon emissions. As with the reduction in overall air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions would slightly reduce with the project, as compared to not building the project. Emissions would be slightly better with the project due to reduced congestion and fewer starts and stops within the project area. “Because greenhouse gas emissions have been identified as a primary cause of climate change effects, any potential decrease in these emissions would be expected to support emission-reduction efforts intended to reduce future climate-related impacts,’” the assessment found.
  • Benefits for communities – The assessment found that the project, as proposed, would improve access to public transit; improve mobility and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders; and improve connections to areas east and west of I-5 provided by the new highway covers and the Clackamas bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing.
  • A proposed sound wall would reduce noise levels. A sound wall, recommended for the area between I-5 and Harriet Tubman Middle School, would reduce highway noise inside the school. “This would be a beneficial reduction in noise compared to existing noise levels at the school,” the environmental assessment found.

Over more than 10 years of project development, input has been received from many diverse stakeholders, including neighborhood, freight, bicycle, pedestrian, regional agencies and other community and local business groups through open houses, community forums and a community advisory group.

Following further public review on the environmental study, and pending the Federal Highway Administration’s decision, the next phase of the project will focus on completing engineering and design of the project elements. There will be continuing informational opportunities as the project progresses and ongoing engagement with stakeholder groups and the public throughout the current planning process and upcoming construction.

Printed copies of the environmental assessment also are available for public review at the following locations:

  • ODOT Region 1 – 123 N.W. Flanders St., Portland, Oregon 97209
  • FHWA Oregon Division – 530 Center St., N.E., Suite 420, Salem, OR 97301
  • Matt Dishman Community Center – 77 N.E. Knott St., Portland, OR 97212
  • Multnomah County Library Branches
    • Central: 801 S.W. 10th Ave.
    • North Portland: 512 N. Killingsworth St.
    • Albina: 3605 N.E. 15th Ave.

Request alternative formats at info@i5rosequarter.org

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