What is a highway cover?
A highway cover is a concrete and steel platform that spans over the street that passes below it. Highway covers reconnect bisected street grids and create more usable space around the streets where there isn’t any today. They also provide opportunity for community activity spaces. With community input, the project team will continue to explore options such as food carts, public art, skate park, scenic overlooks, picnic areas and other types of activities and uses.
Completing the improvements on I-5 requires removing and rebuilding the bridges crossing over the highway. The project will build new highway covers in their place to provide space for wide sidewalks, separated bike lanes, roads and new community spaces. The new covers will include seismic upgrades, making the structures over I-5 in the interchange more resilient in the event of an earthquake.
One of the locations where I-5 will be covered is where the highway crosses over Broadway, Williams and Weidler Streets.
The other cover location spans over the highway connecting Vancouver Avenue with a new Hancock Street overcrossing.
Independent Cover Assessment
In response to direction from Governor Kate Brown and requests from project stakeholders, 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 Cover Assessment (ICA) process. The goal for this independent team was 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.
As of June 30, 2021, ICA team completed a series of community workshops and three online open houses over the course of their work. Their work informed options for how the future covers will look and the functions they may serve. Learn more at http://www.albinahighwaycovers.com/.