In this issue

  • Independent Cover Assessment Online Open House #2: April 16 – May 3
  • ODOT Adopts Findings of Compatibility
  • 2021 Design Update
  • Meet the Changemakers
  • Rose Quarter Recap: Project Committees
  • Rose Quarter Underground: Looking at Conditions from the Bottom Up

Independent Cover Assessment Online Open House #2: April 16 – May 3

The Independent Cover Assessment team is holding the second of three Online Open Houses to solicit input from the community. The first online open house held in March discussed how the highway covers could be used to support the community’s vision for neighborhood revitalization and restorative justice that supports the historic and local community’s desired outcomes. The second online open house, which started at 5:00pm on Friday, April 16 and is open through Friday, May 3, will review and refine potential cover concept scenarios, assessing how the design of each concept supports the community’s vision and restorative justice outcomes.   

As a reminder, in response to direction from the Governor and requests from project stakeholders last year, the Oregon Transportation Commission directed ODOT to retain a consultant team of local and national urban design, engineering, and environmental experts to conduct an independent assessment of the highway cover designs included in the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. The requests from Metro, Multnomah County, City of Portland, Portland Public Schools and Albina Vision Trust shaped the creation of the independent assessment process. The goal for this independent team is to understand the vision and goals of stakeholders in the project area, generate potential highway cover scenarios, and assess the impacts and benefits of these scenarios.  

The Independent Cover Assessment team is seeking direct input from Black community members from the historic Albina neighborhood and other stakeholders through a series of virtual workshops and invites broader community input through online open houses, surveys, and public comments. The Independent Cover Assessment team has also launched a website to engage with the historic Albina community and other stakeholders about development of the highway covers. Input gathered will inform the development options for the highway covers in pursuit of restorative justice and a diverse, inclusive, and accessible neighborhood for current and future generations.  

ODOT Adopts Findings of Compatibility

On April 5, 2021, ODOT adopted the project’s findings of compatibility with the local land use, as defined in the City of Portland’s comprehensive plan. These findings are part of ODOT’s State Agency Coordination Program and have been prepared in compliance with Oregon Administrative Rule 731-015-0075. The findings have been adopted by the ODOT Director, per the approved delegation order approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission at their March 11, 2021 meeting. You can view the adopted findings on the project website.

2021 Design Update

We recently released a 2021 Design Update for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project that reflects comments heard from project partners and community input from the Environmental Assessment. The design package is a technical document that describes preliminary and conceptual design solutions for the project. Some of the major updates to the preliminary design include a single, continuous highway cover that provides more space for redevelopment and a reduction in width of the freeway’s south end to avoid impacts to the Eastbank Esplanade.

We developed the 2021 Design Update to further inform and engage the public in ongoing discussions about the preliminary design. The Executive Summary highlights how project partners and community members helped shape the values informing our work and changes to the preliminary design. Together, we will address the issues, challenges and opportunities for the design moving forward. 

The project is still early in the design phase and continues to reflect both the project values and the core elements evaluated in the Environmental Assessment. Much work will be done with the Construction Management/General Contractor, project partners and the community to continue to make refinements. The Independent Cover Assessment design scenario selected by the Oregon Transportation Commission, based on a recommendation by the Executive Steering Committee, will also be incorporated as part of the next design update in late 2021.

Meet the Changemakers

Explore how the project is transforming ODOT’s business processes and lifting up people of color through economic opportunities on the newly-launched Success Stories webpage

“I wish that the community knew how many people of color have been brought to the table on this project…”

As a young Black girl growing up in North Portland during the early 1970s, Ericka Warren remembers riding her bike around her neighborhood, cruising past Black-owned businesses and restaurants that flourished in the neighborhood she calls home: Historic Albina. 

Although Albina remains home to some of the Black Portlanders whose grandparents settled in the area following the Great Migration and the Vanport flood, Warren has witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of displacement on so many Black families as public projects and gentrification forced them to move away.

Rose Quarter Recap: Project Committees

Executive Steering Committee

The Executive Steering Committee met in a virtual meeting open to the public on Monday, March 22, 2020. Project design updates were provided for the I-5 mainline focusing on the proposed auxiliary lanes and cross sections at key locations along I-5. The committee heard an update on the Comprehensive Congestion Management and Mobility Plan for investment and implementation, which includes the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, Interstate Bridge Replacement Program, and the Oregon Toll Program. The committee heard a recap on community engagement for the first Independent Cover Assessment and learned about next steps for the second workshop, where preliminary design ideas will be reviewed to discuss opportunities and gain feedback on how the potential scenarios implement the community’s vision. Check the project’s events page to view meeting materials or watch a recording of this meeting.

The Oregon Transportation Commission convened the Executive Steering Committee in consultation with ODOT and regional partners to advise the Oregon Transportation Commission and ODOT on I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project decisions. The committee advises on principles and values to guide the project, design elements such as highway covers, equitable engagement strategies, and other considerations. Oregon Transportation Commission Vice Chair Alando Simpson is the committee chair and Dr. Steven Holt facilitates the committee meetings. The next meeting will take place on Monday, April 26. The project’s events page includes information for how to watch the meeting, what is included on the agenda, and how you can provide public comment.

Historic Albina Advisory Board

The Historic Albina Advisory Board met in a virtual meeting open to the public on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. The board heard a brief update on the Community Oversight Advisory Committee and the Executive Steering committee groups, followed by a recap on the Independent Cover Assessment workshop #1 community outreach and next steps. Then discussions focused on the project’s Environmental Assessment noise, air quality and greenhouse gas analysis. Independent experts who conducted a peer review of the noise and air quality analysis were present to answer questions from the committee. A majority of the committee meeting focused on the baseline concept including connections to the existing street system and the ways in which highway cover could better connect the community and provide land for new development. Several concepts were presented showing how the baseline concept allows for a wide range of possibilities of community space and development. Check the project’s events page to view meeting materials or watch a recording of this meeting.

The purpose of the Historic Albina Advisory Board is to elevate voices in the Black community to ensure that project outcomes reflect community interests and values and that historic Albina directly benefits from the investments of this project. The board brings community perspectives into the project’s decision-making process concerning elements that most directly support community connections, urban design and wealth generation in the Black and historic Albina community. Ericka Warren facilitates the committee meetings. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 20. The project’s events page includes information for how to watch the meeting, what is included on the agenda, and how you can provide public comment.

Community Oversight Advisory Committee

The Community Oversight Advisory Committee focuses on the project’s workforce participation goals and advises on decisions about Disadvantaged Business Enterprise contracting requirements and on-the-job training opportunities. The committee oversees the development and implementation of a Diversity Plan that is being created by the construction management team, Hamilton Sundt a Joint Venture in association with Raimore Construction. The plan will include:

  • a subcontracting plan,
  • apprenticeship and training opportunities,
  • a workplace culture assessment,
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise capacity-building strategies and more.

The committee will review and discuss the Diversity Plan in more detail at their next meeting happening Thursday, April 22.The project’s events page includes information for how to watch the meeting, what is included on the agenda, and how you can provide public comment.

Rose Quarter Underground: Looking at Conditions from the Bottom Up

Image showing construction trucks underneath a bridge on North Thompson in Portland Oregon

Field work equipment staged at North Thompson Street under I-5.

ODOT contractor crews are out in the project area to collect critical data to inform project design and construction. This work will cause temporary closures and detours for people walking, biking, rolling, riding transit and driving, but the activities will be no louder than typical traffic noise.

Three types of separate field work are scheduled to take place:

Activity Description Duration
Surveying Locate and record data on street trees and other existing features in the project area April – May 2021
Utility mapping Locate, map and record data on underground utilities in project area April – May 2021
Soil sampling Soil sample collection in project area April – May 2021
Hazardous materials sampling Collection of paint and other materials samples in project area April – May 2021

About the Project

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project is committed to supporting a safer, more just and inclusive Albina community and greater Portland region. The project will make local, regional, and international travel more predictable and reduce frequent crashes on the I-5 corridor, supporting Oregon’s economy, and will create new community connections to support future economic development. We must ensure the historic Albina community benefits from the investment of this project.

The project will improve community places, spaces, and connections. It will reimagine highway overpasses to complement local street improvements that reconnect neighborhood streets. It will enhance public spaces while supporting opportunities for economic development and wealth generation for the Black community, including land redevelopment opportunities. On I-5, the project will add auxiliary lanes and shoulders to improve travel reliability and safety and will smooth traffic flow between I-84 and I-405 where three interstates meet at the top traffic bottleneck in Oregon and 19th worst bottleneck in the nation. The project is led by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The Oregon State Legislature identified the project as a key transportation investment in 2017.

Learn more about the project and sign up for email updates at:

In response to Governor Kate Brown’s directive to “Stay Home, Save Lives,” all Project public meetings are being held on a virtual platform. We are committed to maintaining accessibility and transparency for all public meetings. Look to the Project website for opportunities to get involved. Visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page for more information.

For ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or Civil Rights Title VI accommodations, translation/interpretation services, or more information call 503-731-4128, TTY 800-735- 2900 or Oregon Relay Service 7-1-1.

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