I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project September 2021 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Reflecting on Albina  
  • Meet the Changemakers: Eric Knox
  • August & September Committee Recap 
  • Rose Quarter Committee Updates
  • Get the Facts: What is Hybrid 3?
  • Independent Cover Assessment Final Report
  • Rose Quarter Underground

Reflecting on Albina

Recently we featured a brand new Albina mural memorializing the neighborhood’s history. But did you know a series of murals celebrating Black history once adorned the Albina Human Resource Center?

On February 10, 1978, seven artists began a year-long project to complete five mural panels and one sculpture telling Black Portland’s story. The piece began by depicting the Transatlantic Slave Trade, followed by Black migrants first moving to the Northwest and then arriving in Portland to work as shipbuilders as part of the 1940s war effort, the later Vanport flood tragedy, and finally the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

While the murals were lost to weather in 1983, they live on through the film “Albina Murals” created by Christopher Bangs, Richard Caplan, Lan Fendors, Gary Eppelsheimer, and Donna Schatz. The Portland State University Library was able to restore the 1978 film with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation (Source: Portland State University Library Special Collections & University Archives, selections from the Center for the Moving Image Film Collection).

Meet the Changemakers: Eric Knox

The remainder of the year, we’ll be introducing members of the Raimore Construction team − the folks gearing up to build the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. Watch for new releases every other Wednesday on our Success Stories page or through ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office Twitter page.

Image of a man kneeling and holding a basketball. Text on the image says Success Story, with a quote from Eric Knox who is a coach and mentor. The quote says "Programs don't change people, people change people, period. And the only way you're gonna change another person's life is you gotta be nearby and be available to build relationship.". Photo Courtesy of Temitope Timothy.

For longtime coach, mentor and pastor Eric Knox, building a community of support and developing young men and women into the next generation of community leaders is a calling that drew him to Portland over 30 years ago.

Before coming to Oregon and playing on the men’s basketball team at Oregon State University, Eric grew up in the streets of South Central Los Angeles — home to vibrant Black businesses and middle-class families, yet with too many external distractions for a young man who dreamed of hooping in the league one day. His opportunity to tryout with the Portland Trailblazers arrived in the late 80s, and although he didn’t make the roster, he did find respite in Northeast Portland, eventually feeling called to minister basketball and the Bible — and mentorship.

August & September Committee Recap

In August we held a Community Oversight Advisory Committee meeting, two joint committee meetings between the Historic Albina Advisory Board and Executive Steering Committee where Community Oversight Advisory Committee members were invited to attend, one special meeting of the Historic Albina Advisory Board and one meeting of the Executive Steering Committee where Historic Albina Advisory Board members were invited to attend. Here are the highlights:

  • Joint Committee Meeting August 3 – The committees heard answers to their outstanding questions and concerns about project and highway cover design. They learned more about how the Hybrid 3 design option addresses those concerns and includes Board priorities. They also reviewed an approach for reaching a decision about a highway cover design option.
  • Joint Committee Meeting August 17 – The committees heard about how Hybrid 3 provides the greatest community benefit. The presentation highlighted how the project schedule can be streamlined to incorporate the design option and how the cost estimates compare. Committee members reviewed the recommendation process and answered their support for Hybrid 3.
  • Community Oversight Advisory Committee Meeting August 19 – Committee members continued their work on the Diversity Plan, focusing on workforce and apprenticeship.
  • Historic Albina Advisory Board Special Meeting August 23 – Board members reviewed the information provided at the August 17 Joint Committee Meeting and heard more about their next steps related to and voted on a recommendation.
  • Executive Steering Committee Meeting August 31 – Committee members heard an update on and expressed their support for the Board’s highway cover recommendation.

Hybrid 3 Highway Cover Option Moves Forward

On September 9, the Historic Albina Advisory Board’s highway cover recommendation was presented to the Oregon Transportation Commission. This was a consensus decision supported by the Community Oversight Advisory Committee and the Executive Steering Committee. The Oregon Transportation Commission voted to approve advancing the Hybrid 3 highway cover design option.

The Hybrid 3 highway cover design option was presented as the “win-win” option by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who convened a series of meetings with stakeholders to find a consensus plan for the path forward and then presented to the Board. This option has the potential to create new community connections that support future economic development and land redevelopment opportunities.

Upcoming Rose Quarter Committee Meetings

This month we will resume our regularly scheduled advisory committee meetings:

  • Thursday, September 16: Community Oversight Advisory Committee − The committee will focus on the Greensheet estimating tool that will allow the construction contractor to identify the path for achieving maximum Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and workforce utilization.
  • Tuesday, September 21: Historic Albina Advisory Board −The Board will hear updates on the Southbound Realignment design option and highway cover governance and start discussions around highway edges and undersides.

Get the Facts: What is Hybrid 3?

Image of the words Rose Quarter Get the Facts, in a green colored box.

Hybrid 3 was developed to meet the priorities of our project advisory committees and the community. It maintains the same highway cover concept that was originally designed, but:

  • Adds more developable space
  • Maintains the Flint Avenue overpass and reconnects Hancock Street across Flint and Vancouver Avenues
  • It also relocates the I-5 South off-ramp at Broadway farther south to Wheeler Avenue
  • Finally, it accommodates the Green Loop connection for people walking and bicycling on Broadway and Weidler Streets

Hybrid 3 is a “win-win” solution because it would:

  • Maximize developable land
  • Reconnect the local street grid
  • Reduce exposure to noise and pollution
  • Preserve needed improvements to increase safety and traffic flow on the highway
  • Support neighborhood connectivity, community access and walkability
  • Create a more vibrant street environment
  • Provide opportunities for buildings up to three stories.
  • Avoid impacts to historic properties and community redevelopment sites
  • Minimize construction delay

Independent Highway Cover Assessment Final Report

Are you a fan of urban design? Interested in diving into the details of the neighborhood redevelopment and reconnection opportunities that the highway covers offer? You can find the Independent Highway Cover Assessment Teams Final Report on their website. The report highlights the method and approach for creating the preliminary highway cover design, describes the neighborhood framework, and summarizes the different scenarios and assessment findings.

Looking at Conditions from the Bottom Up

ODOT contractor crews are out in the project area to collect critical data to inform project design and construction:

Activity Description  Duration  
Surveying Locate and record data on street trees and other existing features in the project area Ongoing in Fall 2021
Soil sampling Soil sample collection in project area October – November 2021
Hazardous materials sampling Collection of paint and other materials samples in project area October – November 2021

This work will cause temporary closures and detours for people walking, biking, rolling, and driving, but the activities will be no louder than typical traffic noise.



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, including land redevelopment opportunities.

On I-5, the project will add auxiliary lanes and shoulders to improve travel reliability and safety and smooth traffic flow between I-84 and I-405 where three interstates meet at the top traffic bottleneck in Oregon and 28th 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 and dedicated funding for project design and construction.

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 or Oregon Relay Service 7-1-1.

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Если вы хотите чтобы информация об этом проекте была переведена на русский язык, пожалуйста, звоните по телефону 503-731-4128.

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For 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.

Learn how we’re evolving to build a modern transportation system based on
sufficient funding and equity. www.oregon.gov/odot/Pages/SAP

Oregon Transportation Commission Advances I-5 Rose Quarter Hybrid 3 Highway Cover Option

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 9, 2021

For more information, contact: Tia Williams, Tia.WILLIAMS@odot.state.or.us, (971) 378-4295

Oregon Transportation Commission Advances I-5 Rose Quarter Hybrid 3 Highway Cover Option

Provides conditions, urges Congressional action on funding

Portland, Ore. – The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) today advanced the highway cover option for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project known as the Hybrid 3 option, with conditions. The decision today by the OTC advances the project that was part of House Bill 2017, passed in 2017, a major transportation funding bill. The legislation directed ODOT to build the Rose Quarter Project and provided approximately $500 million to $700 million of funding for the project.

The Commission’s advancing of this design option is subject to conditions, the most immediate of which is the OTC directive that, on or before December 1, 2021, ODOT submit a project Funding Plan discussing how the revised project might be funded. In January 2020, the OTC received a Cost to Complete Report for the project from ODOT. The Report found that the original 2017 cost estimate for the project of approximately $500 million was incorrect and that the correct cost estimate as of January 2020 was roughly in the range of $700 million to $800 million. Hybrid 3 would increase that cost estimate to between $1.2 billion and $1.25 billion – an increase of approximately $500 million over the 2020 cost estimate and roughly $750 million over the funding approved by the Legislature in 2017.

“We are trying to do a number of things at once with this project,” said OTC Chair Robert Van Brocklin. “Reduce Rose Quarter congestion; increase safety and mobility; involve minority business enterprises in constructing the project; and support community interest in covering a larger section of the freeway to increase redevelopment opportunities for Albina. Advancing this visionary project design will require substantial additional funding.”

Among other things, the Hybrid 3 option would involve building a larger cover over I-5 at the Rose Quarter than originally planned, and one capable of supporting buildings. Hybrid 3 would also change the location of various freeway entrance and exit ramps, reconnect the street grid above the highway, make new multimodal infrastructure investments, and add one northbound and one southbound 1.7-mile auxiliary lane from the I-5/I-84 interchange to the Fremont Bridge. These auxiliary lanes are similar to lanes that were constructed on I-205 in 2019. In both cases, they were designed to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion.

Today’s decision by the OTC comes after more than a year of work by the Executive Steering Committee, established by the OTC and chaired by OTC Vice Chair Alando Simpson, as well as community discussions convened through the Historic Albina Advisory Board (HAAB) and other organizations. It also comes at the urging of Governor Kate Brown who, after intensive discussions with local leaders, encouraged approval of the Hybrid 3 option.

“We are grateful to the Governor and community members for their recommendation on the highway cover options and overall project design,” said Vice Chair Simpson. “It is our duty to ensure that this project stays on schedule and offers the best return on investment of public dollars. Our focus must continue to be on putting a finance plan together to deliver the project, and that will require additional funding from other governmental partners.”

The Commission directed ODOT to include specific information in the Funding Plan, including: (1) an estimate of the amount of dedicated funding needed to build the project; (2) a discussion of whether a viable plan to secure that dedicated funding from federal, state and/or the City of Portland, Metro, Multnomah County, TriMet and other organizations in Portland is reasonably likely to be authorized and appropriated by July 1, 2023, (3) a one-year extension in that deadline until July 1, 2024 if the funding is likely but is temporarily delayed; (4) a preliminary construction schedule for the Project; and (5) a discussion of when congestion pricing on I-5 will be operational and produce revenue.

“The Rose Quarter Improvement Project is a top transportation priority for the State of Oregon as the bottleneck in the Rose Quarter project area impacts the economies of communities across the state,” said Commissioner Sharon Smith. “The legislature has directed the OTC to fix this problem, providing additional gas tax funds. We have heard from the community and our regional partners that a more robust design is needed to knit the Albina neighborhood back together. We acknowledge the historic adverse impacts. Although the cost of the project is daunting, and we will work with the community, our agency partners, the legislature, and the Governor to craft a solution and funding plan.”

“The Rose Quarter Project provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconnect Historic Albina and invest in good paying jobs for a community that has faced so much injustice,” said Historic Albina Advisory Board member John Washington, who is also the Executive Director of the Soul District Business Association. “We must continue to fight to secure funding for this project and ensure that the community’s voice influences the many decisions that lie ahead.” HAAB has endorsed the Hybrid 3 option.

“The Commission knows that House Bill 2017 requires ODOT to make a large investment in the Rose Quarter Project,” said Commissioner Julie Brown. “Doing so will benefit our economy throughout the state by making it easier to move goods, services, and people into and through the Portland metro area. But to build Hybrid 3 we will need special help from Congress,” she continued. “We are very unlikely to have the money to build the larger project cover without a major federal financial contribution.”

About the Project

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project is committed to supporting a safer, just and inclusive Albina community and greater Portland region. The project will make local, regional, national and international travel more predictable and reduce frequent crashes on the I-5 corridor. The Project will also support Oregon’s economy and create new community connections and opportunities.

Learn more about the project and sign up for email updates at: www.i5RoseQuarter.org.

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