The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project Receives $450 million in Federal Grant Funding

Photo of Hill Block building in Historic Albina (photo credit City of Portland Archives). Text reads “I-5 Rose Quarter Project receives Federal grant.” Rose Quarter project logo with decorative triangles made of gold stripes in bottom left corner.

PORTLAND — The U.S. Department of Transportation announced March 9 that ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project is the recipient of its Reconnecting Neighborhoods and Communities Grant in the amount of $450 million.

“We are grateful for the support of the Biden Administration. Receiving the grant is an important step in realizing the vision of reconnecting neighborhoods, improving the transportation network, and taking part in a collective movement toward restoring the historic Albina community” said ODOT Director Kris Strickler of this pivotal announcement.

The grant awarded will go toward finishing design and constructing the core part of the project’s highway cover to support community reconnection, new community space, and future development opportunities for the Albina community, making it the first federal investment in construction for this project.

Project and community partners like the Oregon Transportation Commission, City of Portland, Metro, Albina Vision Trust and Rip City Management/Portland Trailblazers supported the request for this investment and ODOT sees this grant as a big step forward for the project and community development plans for the lower Albina district. 

“This catalytic federal investment represents the beginning of a new chapter, one where government plays an active role in not only healing the harms of history, but investing in community-driven visions of a better tomorrow," said Albina Vision Trust Executive Director Winta Yohannes. "The Albina Vision Trust is overjoyed to celebrate this victory alongside our partners at the Oregon Department of Transportation.”

Kevin Modica, a member of the project’s Historic Albina Advisory Board, highlighted the significance of the funding as “more than just financial support.”

"It represents a pivotal step towards revitalizing our community. Rebuilding and returning to Albina is no longer a dream deferred,” said Modica. "The Interstate 5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project holds significant promise for not only enhancing transportation infrastructure but honoring the rich history and cultural legacy of the Historic Albina neighborhood. This grant is testament to the collaborative efforts of all involved and a beacon of hope for a brighter, more connected future.”

Parallel to this grant, the City of Portland is also the recipient of a Reconnecting Neighborhoods and Communities Grant in the amount of $38 million for the Broadway as a Main Street Project. This project complements and extends the planned investments to the Rose Quarter and provides the opportunity to transform this busy corridor into a more welcoming street for current and future residents.

"This federal investment will help Portland restore and revitalize what was once the largest, most vibrant Black neighborhood in Oregon," said Millicent Williams, the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). "We are proud to support the Albina Vision Trust and the aspiration for a neighborhood that creates generational wealth for the Black community.”

This award allows the once-in-a-generation I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project to move forward, and we will continue to work with legislative partners on additional funding opportunities in 2025. ODOT is committed to promoting diverse business and workforce participation. Moving to construction will activate many benefits including building a diverse and skilled workforce, with 2 million labor hours and up to $150 million in payroll and benefits for minority and women-owned companies.


Background and Project Information

In the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government, working with state and local governments, transformed the way Americans travel. Together, they built an interstate highway system connecting people and goods from across the country. 

But there were problems with how that system was built that continue to this day. In Portland, governments chose a path for the new I-5 freeway that went directly through the heart of the Albina community. This destroyed hundreds of homes, predominantly owned by Black Portlanders, and severed a thriving community from the river and itself. History of Albina

So, in 2017, when ODOT was directed by the Oregon Legislature to address congestion on I-5 at the Rose Quarter, we were determined to take this opportunity to make a positive impact on the community harmed by its original construction. Working together with neighborhood leaders, we’ve designed a project that is unlike any we’ve constructed in the past.

The project still includes solutions to address one of the worst bottlenecks in the country. Three interstates converge in the Rose Quarter area (I-5, I-84 and I-405) and vehicle traffic is forced down to two lanes. Every local resident knows how bad traffic gets in the area. The rapid merging required by the current design causes the area to have an extraordinarily high number of crashes.

Our project will build auxiliary lanes to help travelers get from one interstate to the other safely without merging into through traffic. It will also add biking and walking paths over the highway to encourage better connections for people walking, biking and rolling, and wider shoulders to help incident responders clear vehicles and get traffic moving again.

Working with community leaders, we saw a path to make this project about more than reducing congestion – it could also be an opportunity to build community. To do so, we’ve designed a feature we’ve never had the opportunity to build before: a multi-acre highway cover which will reconnect neighborhood streets and create new space for community activities.