ODOT to update Environmental Assessment on I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project to advance proposed highway cover design

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ODOT to update Environmental Assessment on I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project to advance proposed highway cover design

Proposed changes will address local concerns and keep project timeline on pace for 2023

January 20, 2022

For more information, contact Tia Williams, ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office Communications Director, 971-378-4295

Portland, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Transportation today announced plans to develop an updated Environmental Assessment for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project to reflect the proposed highway cover design supported by the community. With this additional effort to respond to the community-recommended highway cover design, ODOT officials said the project timeline is still on schedule for construction to begin next year.

After an independent assessment of proposed highway cover designs directed by Governor Brown and the Oregon Transportation Commission, stakeholders -- including the City of Portland, Albina Vision Trust, Metro, Multnomah County, Portland Public Schools, ODOT and ODOT’s community advisory groups – identified Hybrid 3 as their preferred option. The Oregon Transportation Commission advanced this proposal in September 2021, directing ODOT to develop a finance plan and to conduct additional design and analysis to move this concept forward. 

The Hybrid 3 proposal includes a buildable cap for one- to three-story buildings with an option for up to six stories over I-5. The plan would reunite long-separated portions of the Lower Albina neighborhood and provide opportunities for development and improved local street connections. It would also relocate the I-5 southbound on-ramp south of the highway cover.

In 2020, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the Environmental Assessment for the original Rose Quarter project design but, due to the design changes with the Hybrid 3 cover concept made since then, FHWA has determined that an updated Environmental Assessment is needed and has rescinded the Finding of No Significant Impact decision document. FHWA’s prior environmental decision document will be replaced by this updated process, with FHWA providing an appropriate decision on the significance of the impacts based on the updated environmental review.

“Updating the Environmental Assessment is an important step to advance the community’s preferred Hybrid 3 highway cover design and is a step we anticipated and are excited to take,” said Rose Quarter Project Director Megan Channell. “With guidance from and in partnership with the FHWA, we can still begin construction on time in 2023, creating jobs we know are important to the community and providing congestion relief that is critical to commuters and our economy.”

The updated Environmental Assessment involves a review of the scope of the project and evaluation of project impacts. As this additional design progression and technical evaluation of the Hybrid 3 highway cover design remains underway, along with the Oregon Transportation Commission’s continued conversations on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the ongoing uncertainty with the federal Build Back Better bill, ODOT is not delivering the project’s finance plan to the Oregon Transportation Commission at their January 20 meeting. Rather, ODOT will provide a status update on the project’s financial planning process and next steps, ultimately providing a project funding plan when there is greater certainty about the project design and viable funding sources.

For more information about the project, visit https://i5rosequarter.oregon.gov/.