September 7, 2017
Re: I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project
Thank you to the many community members who have provided feedback on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project and thank you also to the Oregon Legislature for dedicating funding for this transformational city and regional project. This project is but one piece of a larger vision for significantly improving the Lloyd District, Lower Albina, and the Rose Quarter. The N/NE Quadrant Plan, which encompassed these Central City districts and was adopted by City Council in 2012, was developed to integrate land use, urban design, and transportation strategies to guide future development in the area.
With the expectation of 8,000 new households and 9,000 jobs in the Lloyd District and Rose Quarter area by 2035, the goals of the N/NE Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee included the creation of a plan that would set the stage for investments in “a diverse mix of commercial, cultural, entertainment, industrial, recreational, and residential uses, including affordable housing,” as well as, “a full multimodal transportation system that provides safe traffic operations and freight mobility on I-5 and locally, with improved interface between the freeways and the local street system, and increased local connectivity to adjacent areas and land uses.”
If completed as planned, the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project will be a critical first step in meeting these goals and helping better connect the Rose Quarter to the rest of the city by providing new crossings of I-5. These new, seismically upgraded bridges will provide better street connections, improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities, a new pedestrian and bicycle-only bridge as well as lids (or covers) of the freeway that can provide much needed community space. After years of planning, we look forward to the next stage of stakeholder engagement in the design and implementation of this project. With an open and transparent process, we will ensure this project makes the best use of limited resources and provides multiple benefits to our city.
To ensure a successful process, this Fall we will bring a resolution to City Council to formalize Portland’s expectations for this important project. As we work towards that moment, we want to begin to lay out our expectations, as outlined below:
1. Implement value pricing in advance of the I-5 Rose Quarter project to ensure maximum congestion relief and overall environmental benefits
Value pricing is a proven congestion and carbon reduction strategy and it is an essential part of the project. The recently passed House Bill 2017 - the state transportation funding package - mandates that value pricing be implemented on Interstate 5, between the Washington state line and the intersection with I-205. Not only can value pricing relieve congestion and help our region lead on climate, but it can be implemented with social equity as a founding principle. Value pricing can help bring improved mobility and pricing solutions to those traveling through the corridor. We are committed to working closely with the state of Oregon and multiple regional partners to evaluate and implement policies to be sure this tool brings the most benefits to our city.
2. Build the complete project as outlined in the N/NE Quadrant Plan
Until the late 2000s, this project was seen as only a freeway congestion-reduction effort to improve traffic flow in the I-5/I-84 interchange. The original plan would have further divided the Rose Quarter/Lloyd neighborhoods with braided ramps, highway-widening, and few multimodal improvements. Through years of effort and creativity poured into the N/NE Quadrant Plan on behalf of Portland community members, the Planning and Sustainability Commission, City Council, and ODOT, the project became much more closely aligned with Portland’s commitments to long term congestion relief, environmental sustainability, and alternatives to automobile use.
Between 2010 and 2012, City staff and ODOT, with the help of the community, developed a preferred Facility Plan for the I-5 Broadway Weidler Interchange as a part of the N/NE Quadrant Plan. In 2012, City Council adopted the N/NE Quadrant Plan with support from a diverse 30-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee that had shepherded development of the Facility Plan. The scope of the I-5 Broadway/Weidler Interchange project includes targeted improvements to significantly reduce crash-induced congestion that is resulting from frequent incidents as cars weave between interchanges -- this heavily travelled corridor experiences the highest crash rate in Oregon.
3. Ensure that funding for this project does not decrease discretionary revenue that is needed to meet other citywide objectives - specifically Vision Zero and Active Transportation
This is a project of statewide significance and we are pleased that the state legislature dedicated revenue from across Oregon to fund the project. The dedication of statewide funding as part of the 2017 state transportation funding package, ensures that local funds can remain allocated to local transportation projects, including our many East Portland transportation priorities.
4. Respect the pre-Rose Quarter history, support the remaining Black community, and work to counter the continued gentrification of the surrounding neighborhoods
Before Interstate 5, before the Lloyd District and before the Rose Quarter, this neighborhood was part of the Albina District. The Albina District was the home to a large part of Portland’s Black community for much of the 20th century. Urban renewal projects in the 1960s--including Interstate 5 and the Memorial Coliseum--decimated and displaced the Black community that lived there. This project should acknowledge this past and explore every opportunity to both support remaining black community members as well as previously displaced community members and businesses. This project should also be developed in concert with many agency and community partners to work on and support a comprehensive range of improvements including affordable housing and economic development opportunities.
We encourage all community members to stay engaged in this developing project and to consider attending one of the upcoming events and open houses, beginning with the September 12th informational Open House at Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 NE Knott Street, Portland, OR. The event will take place from 5pm to 7pm. More information about this project can be found at www.i5rosequarter.org.