What will the project build?

Community Connections

  • Highway covers over I-5 that create new community spaces on top of I-5 and seismically upgrade overpasses.
  • A new east-west roadway crossing over I-5 to connect NE Hancock Street with N Dixon Street.
  • A new pedestrian and bicycle bridge from Clackamas Street to the Rose Quarter entertainment area.
  • Local street improvements for all users, including new separated multi-use paths for people walking, biking, and rolling.

A Safer and More Reliable I-5

  • A new ramp-to-ramp connection, or auxiliary lane, in each direction on I-5 between I-84 and I-405 to reduce motor vehicle weaving. This means safer merging and improved connections between interchanges in an area where three interstates meet.
  • Wider shoulders in each direction on I-5 between I-84 and I-405. This will provide space for disabled motor vehicles to move out of traffic, allow emergency vehicles to respond to emergencies more quickly, and help buses avoid congestion and maintain reliability.

What is a Construction Manager/General Contractor and why is it important? How is it different from what ODOT has done before?

Construction Manager/General Contractor is an innovative project delivery method where the construction contractor is hired during a project’s engineering design phase. This allows the contractor and engineers to collaborate and innovate during design. The construction Manager/General Contractor method was chosen to:

  • Improve Community Partnership. The contractor is able to work with the community to develop the project’s design together.
  • Increase Economic Opportunities. The contractor is key to unlocking the project’s economic opportunities through contracts to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, building business capacity and jobs for minority workers.
  • Optimize Innovation. The Construction Manager/General Contractor procurement method encourages the contractor to provide input and innovation in the design process, including identifying cost and schedule risks that can be addressed and reduced during design as a result of the contractor’s experience.

ODOT has traditionally used “design-bid-build”, where the plans and specifications are completed, then competitively bid—and construction is awarded to the lowest responsive bidder. The Construction Manager/General Contractor process allows the contractor to use a variety of tools, including selecting subcontractors based on qualifications, not just lowest bid.

What is the Executive Steering Committee’s role in the project?

ODOT established an Executive Steering Committee in spring 2020 to advise the Oregon Transportation Commission and ODOT on major project decisions. The Executive Steering Committee shapes principles and values to guide the project, design elements such as the highway covers, inclusive public engagement, project financing and delivery, and other project considerations. Oregon Transportation Commission Vice Chair Alando Simpson chairs the Executive Steering Committee, which is facilitated by Dr. Steven Holt.

Learn more about the Executive Steering Committee’s role on the project’s website.

Now that the OTC has provided direction on the project’s environmental review process, what happens next?

In April 2020, the Oregon Transportation Commission directed ODOT staff to continue working with federal, regional and local partners to complete the Environmental Assessment process for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, as a requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Environmental Assessment, an in-depth analysis of the project’s benefits and impacts, was published in Spring 2019. Community engagement and technical information will continue to inform the project’s design. Next, ODOT, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, will publish the final NEPA decision document. The final decision document will allow us to move into the design phase, and answer and address the community’s questions regarding the project’s design.

The project team will conduct further design refinement of the proposed highway covers and other elements in 2020, in collaboration with our partners. Public input on the project can be offered and discussed in public committee meetings, discussion groups, surveys, open houses and briefings for community organizations, among other activities.

What are the impacts to private property?

It is our intent to minimize impacts to private property and business displacement. Most of the planned project features, including the auxiliary lanes and shoulders on I-5, are within existing ODOT property (i.e., right-of-way). As a result, the project will impact only a minimal amount of private property. The project will not displace any residences.

How can I help shape the project? Can details of the project still be changed?

Yes! The project is in the very early stages of design and there is still a lot of work to be done. While the project’s general concept is defined, we need the community to shape the project’s design. Throughout the design process, we want to hear from you. There are several opportunities for feedback through community events, open houses, online surveys, public committee meetings, and urban design charrettes at which the public can provide input. Find ways to stay involved by checking out the events page on the project website and sign up for the project newsletter by e-mailing info@I5RoseQuarter.org or calling (503) 470-3127.

What is the project’s transportation planning history?

Decades of planning have occurred to address the safety and operational needs on I-5 through the Rose Quarter. Beginning in the late 1980s ODOT developed several studies, including the I-5: Greeley-N. Banfield Study (1987) and Modified Concept (1990-96),

Beginning in the late 1980s, ODOT developed several studies to evaluate transportation design options to address congestion on I-5. These included the I-5: Greeley-N. Banfield Study (1987) and Modified Concept (1990-96), Portland/Vancouver I-5 Trade Corridor Study (1999), I-5/I-405 Freeway Loop Study (2005), and ODOT/City Practical Design Workshop (2007).

ODOT and the City of Portland reached agreement on a set of alternatives through the 2010-2012 N/NE Quadrant Plan and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Facility Plan effort. During that process, together with a 30-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee, ODOT and the City evaluated over 70 design options. We narrowed the scope of design options to be consistent with, and not to preclude, the City’s land use planning goals. ODOT and the City talked with more than 2,800 individuals and held 19 Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings, 14 subcommittee meetings, four open houses, and over 85 community briefings and walking tours. In 2012, the Portland City Council and Oregon Transportation Commission adopted the plans and the recommended design concept, which is now known as the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project.

The project design concept is included in region land use and transportation plans adopted by the City of Portland. Metro Council adopted the proposed project as part of the Regional Transportation Plan in 2014 and again in 2018. Portland City Council adopted the proposed project into the City’s Central City 2035 Plan and Transportation System Plan in June 2018.

During the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project Environmental Assessment, public engagement opportunities included the following: interviews with Portland-based African Americans:

  • work with a 14-member Community Liaisons Group to inform outreach
  • project presentations at more than 100 events and community gatherings
  • nine public events with over 280 attendees
  • community walking and biking tours
  • door-to-door outreach with more than 60 businesses
  • updates via the Project website and newsletters
  • a 45-day public review and comment period on the draft Environmental Assessment.

What is a highway cover and what are its benefits?

A highway cover is a concrete or steel platform that spans over a highway – much like a wide bridge. As part of the project, there is the opportunity to replace existing bridges with wider covers over I-5 to reconnect the Albina community, create land to provide more community space, and make the area more pedestrian and bike friendly. We need the community’s help to determine the cover’s shape and use. Through an Independent Assessment of the highway covers, community input and involvement, options such as food carts, public art, buildings, public space or other uses will be explored that provide opportunities for economic development and wealth creation within the Albina community.

The highway covers will be built to meet current seismic standards to provide critical transportation access for community members and first responders in the event of a major earthquake.

How will the project benefit me and the community?

Economic opportunity: In the 1950s and 1960s, ODOT’s construction of I-5 divided and displaced the historic Albina community, specifically Portland’s Black community. We recognize that this action and other urban developments took generational wealth and opportunity in the Albina community. Other public agency and private developments, including the Moda Center, Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, the Convention Center, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, and other urban renewal efforts also contributed to the historic harm. To address this, we are committed to elevating the voices of the historically harmed Albina community to understand the needs of and provide benefit to this community. We will identify, encourage and facilitate opportunities for agency and community partnerships. Together with agency and community partners, the project can support future economic development in the Albina community and support wealth generation through creating opportunities for partnerships around land banking, workforce and business development, and other means.

Community connections for the future: The project provides an opportunity to reconnect the community and support a sense of place and space consistent with local visions for transformation.

We are committed to building highway covers that bridge both sides of the I-5 corridor in this area and provide new community space. Only after hearing how the community envisions the look and feel of the highway covers and the streets and sidewalks to which they connect, the project will once again connect sections of this historic neighborhood and provide economic growth and development opportunities.

Our hope is that building highway covers will be a catalyst for us to work with other project partners to transform what exists today into a socially and economically inclusive community – one that is connected to the river and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Local street enhancements: Some of the existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the project area are undersized, incomplete, or challenging to navigate, such as crossing highway on- or off-ramps. Changes to the local street system will provide protected or separated sidewalks and bike lanes to create safe connections for people walking, rolling, bicycling, or riding transit in the Project area. New highway overcrossings, such as the Clackamas Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing, will provide additional options for people to comfortably cross I-5 where they cannot do so today, increasing options for people moving in and through Albina and the Rose Quarter.

Safety for pedestrians and bicyclists: For those who already – or those who want to – walk, bike, or roll in the project area, the new vision for local streets will increase physical separation between automobiles and pedestrians or people biking. The project will include new widened and well-lit sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities-accessible ramps, marked crosswalks, and widened and improved bicycle facilities that also provide more comfortable and convenient access to transit.

I-5 safety and congestion: The section of I-5 between I-84 and I-405 has the highest crash rate of any Oregon urban interstate. By providing new shoulders and continuous auxiliary lanes in both directions of I-5, the project will reduce motor vehicles weaving in and out of lanes and provide areas for disabled motor vehicles to pull over or emergency responders to get around heavy traffic. Auxiliary lanes and wider shoulders will reduce crashes by up to 50% and improve congestion and travel flow, saving drivers and those riding bus transit 2.5 million hours of delay each year.

Travel reliability: There is traffic congestion on I-5 in the Rose Quarter area for 12 hours each day. Increased congestion and safety issues on I-5 between I-84 and I-405 means drivers experience delay and travel is less reliable for most of the day. Project features will reduce the number of crashes and improve travel reliability for vehicles on I-5 and, in turn, vehicles on local streets affected by back-up on the Interstate. This also benefits the movement of goods, such as Oregon’s exports and imports, from groceries to technology.

Broadway/Weidler interchange operations: The complexity and congestion at the I-5 Broadway/Weidler interchange makes it challenging for automobiles, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists to get around. The project will simplify the interchange’s configuration, easing movement for all users and improving safety for our most vulnerable road users.

Why is I-5 so important for the traveling public?

I-5 is the main north-south highway moving people and goods and connecting cities and towns across the west coast of the United States from Mexico to Canada. In the Portland region, I-5 carries the highest number of vehicles in the state and is critical for businesses moving goods, commuters coming to and from Portland, and locals traveling within the region. With a high crash rate and significant traffic congestion, reliability on I-5 through the Portland region is degrading. Trips on I-5 are taking longer for everyone.