April E-Newsletter

In this issue:

  • COVID-19
  • OTC to ODOT: Continue work on I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project
  • Project next steps
  • ODOT seeking Project contractor
  • Executive Steering Committee update
  • Rose Quarter underground: Looking at conditions from the bottom up


In response to Governor Kate Brown’s directive to “Stay Home, Save Lives,” all ODOT-related meetings will be held on a virtual platform and will remain open to the public. ODOT is committed to maintaining accessibility and transparency for all public meetings. Look to the Project website for public involvement opportunities and event information. Visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page for more information.

OTC to ODOT: Continue work on I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project

At its April 2 meeting, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) instructed ODOT to work with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and local and regional partners to continue the federal Environmental Assessment (EA) process for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. The draft EA, an in-depth analysis of the benefits and impacts of the Project, was published in spring 2019.

Central to OTC’s direction is the desire to collaborate with partners and the community to design and build a forward-leaning Project that responds to transportation needs, community health goals, supports investments in the area, and brings restorative justice and economic progress to the Albina community. View the Project’s progress on OTC-directed actions.

Project next steps

Key direction from the OTC included an environmental peer review, an independent highway cover evaluation and more public engagement.

Environmental peer review

As directed by the OTC, ODOT is convening a panel of experts from across the nation to conduct a peer review of the Project’s air quality and noise reports prepared for the Project’s Environmental Assessment. A summary report of the peer review findings will be completed and available for the public to view by June.

The peer review findings will inform the Environmental Assessment. FHWA and ODOT will also complete the EA process by responding to the comments received and revising the EA as necessary. Based on this information, FHWA will then issue a decision document.

Independent highway cover evaluation

Rose Quarter aerial highway cover

Aerial graphic showing (in green with white hashing) proposed location of lids and adjacent areas for potential development

During 2020, ODOT and partners will collaborate to explore design options for the proposed highway covers. Following direction from the OTC, ODOT is hiring an independent consultant that will evaluate the highway cover design options. The consultant team will consider:

  1. Opportunities the current highway cover design concepts offer for community development
  2. Community vision for the highway covers, how might the highway covers design concept be modified, and what it would take from an engineering standpoint to provide that community vision
  3. What options promote economic development and growth potential in line with the marketplace

The OTC directed ODOT to begin this analysis in response to interest from key stakeholders. A draft report is expected this summer, with a final report due to the OTC by October 2020. This consideration and analysis of the highway covers will include community engagement activities, particularly during spring and summer. This study, along with other ongoing technical analysis, and community engagement will continue to inform overall Project design.

Public engagement activities continue

Native American Discussion Group ROse Quarter

Participants engage at a discussion group February 2020

While community involvement in this Project has been ongoing for years, it is not done and we have a lot more work to do. With only 15% of the Project design completed, ODOT will meaningfully engage the community in a two-way dialogue to design a Project that honors the history of the community that was harmed when I-5 and other public and private developments were built and provides the best options for a vibrant future. Engagement will be guided by an outcomes-based approach that provides transparent and intentionally-developed input opportunities, activities and outreach events.

The Project team will host community engagement events in 2020 to hear from the community to inform Project process and design. Public engagement opportunities include the Executive Steering Committee and Community Advisory Committee public meetings, discussion groups, surveys, open houses, direct outreach, briefings for community organizations, Project site tours, and other activities.

ODOT seeking Project contractor

On Monday, April 13, ODOT released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) for the Portland-area I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. This unique contracting process allows the agency to bring the contractor into the design phase early and use a variety of innovative tools for increased community engagement and inclusion of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms. The process also maximizes opportunity to help build the capacity of minority-owned businesses for current and future projects.

Read the press release

Executive Steering Committee update

The OTC is convening an Executive Steering Committee (ESC), in consultation with ODOT and regional partners, to advise the commission and ODOT on I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project decisions. The ESC will provide input and recommendations on: principles and values to guide the Project, design elements such as the highway covers, equitable engagement strategies, Project delivery decisions, and other considerations. OTC Vice Chair Alando Simpson will chair the ESC, which will be facilitated by Dr. Steven Holt of Try Excellence LLC. We will share more information prior to the first ESC meeting.

Learn more about the ESC

Rose Quarter underground: Looking at conditions from the bottom up

Drill Rose Quarter fieldwork

Pavement explorations will be conducted by machine or by hand

ODOT contractor crews will be out in the Project area starting in May to collect critical data to inform Project design. Three types of separate field work are scheduled to take place:




Pavement exploration

Pavement coring, testing and surface measurements on local streets

May 4 – late May 2020

Utility mapping

Locate, map and record data on underground utilities in Project area

June – December 2020

Soil sampling

Soil sample collection in Project area

July – November 2020

Learn more about work hours and traffic and noise impacts