BikePortland

ODOT will open two week comment period on I-5 Rose Quarter project


ODOT has resisted a more in-depth analysis of project impacts even though it would add a freeway lane to this embankment just yards from a middle school playground.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation just announced they’ll open a two-week comment period on the controversial I-5 Rose Quarter project.

The news comes a day after revelations that the Oregon Transportation Commission planned to postpone a crucial upcoming meeting where they were slated to vote on whether or not ODOT will perform a more robust Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). As The Oregonian reported yesterday, they postponed their scheduled March 20th meeting to April 2nd and announced it would be held via telephone due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Concerned Portlanders with No More Freeways (and BikePortland) worried that this meeting would be inaccessible to the public and a violation of Oregon public meeting law. ODOT heard those concerns and just announced the following:

During its April 2 meeting, the OTC will receive updates on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project and provide information to ODOT regarding the project’s environmental review. Due to the changes in timing and format of the OTC meeting and to ensure access for anyone who would like to provide public testimony on the Rose Quarter Improvement Project* or other agenda items, ODOT is opening a two week public comment period beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 and continuing through 5 p.m. PDT on Friday, March 27, 2020.

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The meeting will also be streamed live on ODOT’s YouTube channel.

As for the comments, the OTC says they’d like to hear specifically whether they should direct ODOT to conduct the EIS or stick with the existing (and less thorough) Environmental Assessment.

There are three ways to share your comments: Submit them over the web via OTC’s website; mail them to the OTC at 355 Capitol Street NE, MS 11, Salem OR 97301; or schedule a timeslot and put your comments on video at ODOT Region 1 HQ in Portland (contact OTCAdmin@odot.state.or.us to set up a time to record).

While it’s a nice gesture to allow more public comment on this issue, it’s also a bit strange. Thanks in large part to No More Freeways and other activist groups, ODOT and the OTC have already received thousands of comments and letters on this subject.

In related news, we’re waiting to hear from ODOT about who’s been chosen to serve on the project’s Community Advisory Committee. ODOT made their selections on March 1st and has notified all applicants; but they’ve yet to release the final roster. Stay tuned for that.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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