I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project Newsletter

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In this issue:

  • I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project spotlight’s minority-owned businesses
  • Project convenes new community board in response to stakeholder engagement
  • Look for new public engagement opportunities soon
  • Community Opportunity Advisory Committee hears project update and discusses expectations for workforce program
  • Work has begun on Independent Cover Assessment
  • Rose Quarter underground: Looking at conditions from the bottom up

I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project Spotlight’s Minority-Owned Businesses

In the 1950s and 1960s, ODOT’s construction of I-5 along with other public and private developments divided and displaced the historic Albina community, specifically Portland’s Black community. As we work to design and build this project with the community, we must work to address past harms.

One way this project can be a catalyst for change is to support wealth generation for local minority businesses including Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, which include small businesses that are at least 51% owned by minorities, women, or other individuals on a case-by-case basis. In doing business differently, we are making intentional actions to do business with minority-owned businesses.

We are proud to highlight stories of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises that play key roles in supporting, designing and developing this project. Melinda Sandifer, owner of Miss’ipi Chef, who provides catering services, and Monica Leal, Principal of Global Transportation Engineering, who leads a team on the design of ramp meters, freeway lighting, and communications systems on I-5, are featured below. These are just two of many stories we hope to share in the coming months!

Spotlight on Miss'ipi Chef

Spotlight on Monica Leal

Project convenes new community board in response to stakeholder engagement

ODOT announced it is ending the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project’s current Community Advisory Committee and replacing it with a board of individuals with historic ties to Albina. The move will intentionally center voices of the Black community to shape the project.

“In response to community input, and consistent with the shared values we have with current and former partners around restorative justice, we need to elevate Black voices to advise the project’s design,” said Brendan Finn, Director of ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office. “We are putting words into actions by prioritizing the formation of a new Historic Albina Advisory Board.”

Megan Channell, Project Director said, “After focused engagement with the Black community and hearing the input, we are taking action to achieve an even greater focus on the voices of Black Portlanders as we begin to make design decisions.” 

In addition to engagement with the Black community, the project recently convened an Executive Steering Committee, which is developing a set of values, with the need to address past harms at its core.

Finn said “We also have expanded our project team to include community leaders to help us build relationships with the Albina community, make sure we do it right, and make sure the board is comprised of members with deep ties to the area. We thank the Community Advisory Committee members for their service and input. Their valuable comments and feedback will live on in the work we do and will inform the work of project partners and this new Board,” Finn concluded.

See the press release here for more information on the new Board.

Look for new public engagement opportunities soon

Sadly, COVID-19 has prevented us from getting out to see and hear from you this summer in traditional public spaces, like farmers’ markets and community events. Due to COVID-19 safety measures we’ve missed these opportunities and want to make sure to the create space to continue to connect with you and hear your thoughts.

Soon, we’ll start a new phase of engagement that will include an online open house to catch you up on the project’s progress over the last year. In addition, we’ll be sending a mailer to the project area and work with community-based organizations and faith-based communities to meet people where they are. Our goal is to bring people with diverse backgrounds and expertise together to gain greater understanding of present and future transportation and community needs

We want to foster a two-way dialogue that demonstrates how these conversations inform decision-making. To help demonstrate our accountability, we are creating an accountability matrix that documents feedback received and how we are addressing it. You’ll see the survey and other outreach feedback reflected along with comments from the project advisory committee. Look for the accountability matrix on our project website soon.

Through our outreach, we commit to reflecting the shared power of our community and local, regional, and state government to influence project decisions and outcomes. We want you to hold us accountable for those outcomes as part of ensuring the project addresses past harm in a way that enables communities to thrive.

We’ll be sharing information on the project and upcoming events throughout fall in the mail, on our website, and on social media platforms. Look for our Online Open House starting early October. The Online Open House will provide up-to-date project information for your review and a survey to share your feedback.

Community Opportunity Advisory Committee hears project update and discusses expectations for workforce program

The project Community Opportunity Advisory Committee met online on August 13, 2020. ODOT Office of Urban Mobility Director Brendan Finn expressed gratitude for the committee members’ service to the Project and stated that partnerships with and support from our Black community is core to the project’s success. Brendan said that the project cannot be successful without acknowledging ODOT’s role in the past harm to the African American community.

The committee also heard from Megan Channell, Project Director, who reviewed the committee’s role in holding the construction contractor accountable once they begin working alongside the project team and committees, and explained that the project’s current design is at 15%, meaning concepts are far from final.

At this meeting, the committee also approved their charter, which includes a name change to the Community Oversight and Advisory Committee to reflect their role as an oversight committee for the project’s workforce program.

The committee brings their expertise in diversity in contracting to provide feedback and recommendations on the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise/On-the-Job Training program for the construction phase of the project. Click below for information about the committee’s past and future meetings. View a video of the meeting and download materials at the project website.

Learn more about upcoming COAC meetings

Work has begun on Independent Cover Assessment

The project includes highway covers – concrete or steel platforms that span over the highway – that bridge both sides of the I-5 corridor. The covers will help reconnect the Albina community, create new community space, and provide an opportunity to make the area more pedestrian and bike friendly.

In response to public feedback and following direction from the Oregon Transportation Commission in April, ODOT has contracted a third party led by ZGF Architects and including local and national experts, to complete an independent assessment of the highway cover design. They will consider:

  • What opportunities the current highway cover design concepts, as described in the Environmental Assessment, offer for community development
  • The community vision for the highway covers, how highway design concepts might be modified, and what it would take for the covers to deliver outcomes consistent with that community vision
  • How various cover options can promote economic development and wealth generation for the historic Albina community, particularly for members of the African American community displaced by past public and private projects

This work will include multiple opportunities for community engagement. The Independent Cover Assessment team will share more information soon about how they will engage the community in this process.

Rose Quarter underground: Looking at conditions from the bottom up

Man uses survey equipment on a street

Utility mapping in the project area.

ODOT contractor crews are out in the Project area to collect critical data to inform Project design. The following types of separate field work are scheduled to take place:




Utility mapping

Locate, map and record data on underground utilities in Project area

June – December 2020

Soil sampling

Soil sample collection in Project area

July – November 2020

Learn more about work hours and traffic noise impacts


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. We must ensure the historic Albina community benefits from the investment of this project.

The project will improve community places, spaces, and connections. It will reimagine highway overpasses to complement local street improvements that reconnect neighborhood streets. It will enhance public spaces while supporting opportunities for economic development and wealth generation for the Black community, including land redevelopment opportunities. On I-5, the project will add auxiliary lanes and shoulders to improve travel reliability and safety and will smooth traffic flow between I-84 and I-405 where three interstates meet at the top traffic bottleneck in Oregon.

The project is led by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The Oregon State Legislature identified the project as a key transportation investment in 2017.

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, TTY 800-735- 2900 or Oregon Relay Service 7-1-1.

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