I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project October 2021 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Reflecting on Albina: Sanctuaries  
  • Meet the Changemakers: Laura Ramirez and Crystal Stone
  • Advisory Committees: New News and Recent Recap
  • Rose Quarter Underground

Reflecting on Albina

Photo of two men reaching for each other on a stage.

Photo by Intisar Abioto, courtesy of Third Angle New Music.

Sanctuaries: A Jazz Chamber Opera

In 2016, a collaboration was developing between Portland’s Third Angle New Music and composer Darrell Grant (critically-acclaimed jazz pianist and Professor of Music at Portland State University), with co-creators Anis Mojgani (two-time National Poetry Slam Individual Champion and Oregon Poet Laureate) and Alexander Gedeon (opera director). As they were throwing around ideas, the discussion led to the topic of a chamber opera. At first there was hesitation − composing that style of music made Grant feel like an outsider. After much thought, he started to identify ways he could bring his influences of jazz and improvisational experience to an opera.

Taking the opportunity to explore cultural issues and share the systemic and historic oppression of the Black community, Grant wanted to write a story centered around the impacts of gentrification in Portland. The story draws on the history of Albina’s Black community and is told through the lives of four characters returning to a neighborhood harmed by injustice. This piece is meant to be empowering and liberating for the Black community. Sanctuaries ran September 7-9 at The Veterans Memorial Coliseum Pavilion. You can get a glimpse of the project through this film by Blackbald Films, as well as the libretto (opera text) and a list of articles and other media that give additional context to the story.

Darrell states that art doesn’t change the world, but it gives people a perspective that helps people change the world. How could we and how should we do things differently? This is a question that the project team is working with the Historic Albina Advisory Board to answer for the Rose Quarter project. It includes − but also goes far beyond − how art can celebrate and reflect spaces for the Black community to conversations about providing opportunities for creating wealth generation for the Black historic Albina community.

Meet the Changemakers: Laura Ramirez and Crystal Stone

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 news releases every other Wednesday on our Success Stories page or through ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office Twitter page. 

Photo of a sitting woman wearing a construction safety vest. Photo courtesy of Temitope Timothy

Growing up, if I didn’t see girls doing something, then I would want to do that thing.”

Women in construction make up just 1.5 percent of the nation’s workforce − a daunting statistic that hints at the challenges women face in the field. Laura Ramirez, a field engineer at Raimore Construction, is trying to change that statistic and prove that women like her can pivot their careers into these in-demand, rewarding jobs.

Laura’s career path didn’t initially start with construction, but from a young age, she was set on economic mobility. During the 1980s, her mother escaped the civil unrest happening in El Salvador and immigrated to Portland, building a life for herself and Laura by working long hours cleaning houses.

A woman standing in front of a window on a building. Photo courtesy of Temitope Timothy

“Working in an industry dominated by white men, Black women have to work twice as hard to get the same outcome as our peers.”

When a fire destroyed their home in Galveston, Texas almost 90 years ago, Crystal Stone’s great-grandparents moved west, first to Vancouver before buying a home in Northeast Portland. Her great-grandfather quickly became a central pillar in the community, helping to establish the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Homeownership and entrepreneurialism ran deep in her family, and Northeast Portland proved to be fertile ground for their efforts: her grandparents on one side of the family owned a home on Northeast Rodney and Going, and her grandfather had a barbershop on Northeast 7th and Knott. Her maternal grandmother still lives in the area.

The family has witnessed vast changes in Northeast Portland. The church co-founded by her great-grandfather was displaced during the redevelopment period in the 1950s and 1960s that brought I-5 and Legacy Emanuel Hospital to Albina − a devastating experience for the congregants and the larger community. Even now, Portland’s neighborhoods continue to change, altering the cultural fabric in significant ways. “To see how much the city has changed in the last 15 years is kind of scary,” she says.

Advisory Committees: New News and Recent Recap

Check out what will be happening at this month’s upcoming committee meetings:

Missed last month’s meetings? Here are the highlights:

Graphic with the words Rose Quarter Underground. Icons are displayed of people, a person reading a construction plan, a traffic cone, buildings, and a person with a bike.

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  
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

People traveling in the area will see drilling equipment and can expect typical construction impacts such as a slight increase in noise, vibration and dust. There are no anticipated lane closures or detours for people travelling through the area. Parking at some businesses may be temporarily restricted when work is occurring at a specific location.



About the Project

I-5 between I-84 and I-405 is the top traffic bottleneck in Oregon and the 28th worst bottleneck in the nation. It also has:

  • Some of the highest traffic volumes in the State of Oregon with 12 hours of traffic congestion each day.
  • A crash rate 3.5 times higher than the statewide average.
  • A lack of full shoulders in key areas for crashes to clear and emergency vehicles to access.
  • Nearby local streets lacking neighborhood connections and with undersized or incomplete pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project will add auxiliary lanes and shoulders that smooth traffic flow and improve operations to make local and regional travel more predictable and safer for people driving and transporting goods. It includes street improvements to enhance safety and access for people travelling within and through the area. The project will support the regional economy, future economic development and a more connected and equitable Albina community.

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 services, interpretation services or more information, call 503-731-4128 or Oregon Relay Service 7-1-1.

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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