More Big News for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project

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More Big News for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project

Federal Highway Administration Issues Finding of No Significant Impact for Project

For immediate release: March 12, 2024

For more information, please contact Rose Gerber, 503-779-6927,

PORTLAND, Ore. —On the heels of a significant $450 million federal grant, on Tuesday March 12th the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project reached another major milestone that moves the project closer to being ready for construction. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) granted its environmental review approval for ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. This means ODOT has federal approval to proceed with the project and can continue moving forward with more detailed project design. “This federal environmental decision paired with substantial funding highlights the alignment of supporters who want to see this project built. ODOT is honored to continue working with the community and our partners” said Project Director Megan Channell. “We are excited to move forward with this much needed investment in Oregon’s future.”

ODOT is working with the community, the City of Portland and other partners to seek funding opportunities and ready the project for construction.

It wasn’t long ago that some project partners and community members pulled back from the project because of disagreements with the design. We have worked hard to incorporate the perspective of our partners and community, and we believe we now have the right project for this region and this moment. Fifteen of our partners at the federal, state, regional, local and community level agree, signing on to a recent federal grant application to support the project. We are encouraged to see the collective support this project is now receiving.

Said Albina Vision Trust Executive Director Winta Yohannes of the approval, “The Albina Vision Trust is overjoyed to celebrate this victory alongside our partners at the Oregon Department of Transportation. We are also deeply appreciative of the brilliant leadership of our federal delegation, the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration. Together, we will continue to fight to ensure that the Portland of tomorrow is a Portland for all."

"The I-5 Rose Quarter Project has come a long way," said Millicent Williams, Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). "Thanks to the deep involvement of local community stakeholders serving on the Historic Albina Advisory Board, the leadership of the Albina Vision Trust, and the work of PBOT staff, this project has gone from exacerbating past harms to an effort that can help repair and restore a community."

The project design approved by FHWA is the result of our work to center the voices of Black Portlanders. The project seeks to support the restoration of the historic Albina community, which was severed by the original construction of I-5. The project also includes solutions to address one of the worst highway bottlenecks in the country and improvements that will make walking, biking and rolling safer.

We have been working through the federal environmental review process since 2017. In the 2019 Environmental Assessment, the project design featured two smaller, lighter highway covers. At that time ODOT submitted a Revised Environmental Assessment and the FWHA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which is a decision document stating that the environmental review requirements have been met and the project will not have significant impacts on the environment. However, the design included in that document did not receive full community support. ODOT responded by establishing the Historic Albina Advisory Board (HAAB) of Black community leaders to inform the design and community engagement process. Through a series of HAAB meetings, public workshops, online open houses and surveys, ODOT listened to community members describe their vision for the future of historic Albina, which included a single highway cover that could support buildings. In response to this new design dubbed the Hybrid 3 cover option, the FHWA rescinded the 2020 FONSI due to the design changes requiring further analysis. The Hybrid 3 cover option became the project described in the Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) document, published in 2022.  In response to public feedback on the updated project proposed in the SEA, ODOT made additional design refinements to the project that further improved safety for people walking, biking and rolling while maximizing development potential and maintaining event access. This can be found in the newly published 2024 Revised Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact on our website’s project library.

The project now features a single, larger and more substantial highway cover capable of supporting development on top. It also reconnects and improves local streets and adds better pedestrian, bicycle and ADA facilities (including a dedicated pedestrian/bike-only bridge over I-5). Improvements to the I-5 mainline highway include wider shoulders to support faster emergency response times as responders use wider shoulders to move through traffic. We will also construct auxiliary lanes to improve traffic flow and safety, relocate the southbound off-ramp from Vancouver/Broadway to the south near the Moda Center to support redevelopment opportunities and construct a new “flyover” structure to direct the 60% of I-5 off-ramp traffic headed east of I-5 out of the Rose Quarter district.