Beyond freeway expansion, here’s how local streets would change with I-5 Rose Quarter project

A visual summary by ODOT of the surface-street changes proposed in the I-5 Rose Quarter Project.
(Images: ODOT and Google Street View)

When they explain their support for spending hundreds of millions to add two new on/off freeway lanes and freeway shoulders to Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter, Portland city leaders have a go-to answer: better surface streets.

It’s true, Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded last month, that more freeway throughput at this interchange would do “very little to arrest congestion.” Instead, more driving is likely to fill any new space that might open up on the freeway, ultimately leaving cars and trucks as jammed as before (though possibly elsewhere on the road system).

But from Portland’s perspective, Wheeler said, the $450 million Rose Quarter project is “mostly a bicycle and pedestrian play.”

OK. So we wanted to know what, exactly, are taxpayers getting in this location that would improve biking and walking?

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PBOT looks to get back on track with PR moves and new ‘vision’

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Dylan Rivera (on the left) is now PBOT’s Communications
Manager and a member of the Director’s Team.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two recent moves by the Portland Bureau of Transportation show that the agency wants to fix its past PR woes, tighten up its communications strategy and set a clear(er) course for the future.

On Tuesday, PBOT announced that existing media spokesperson Dylan Rivera (a former reporter at The Oregonian) would be the new Communications Manager for the bureau, overseeing a team of three staffers. They’ve also hired former Politifact reporter for The Oregonian Ryan Kost. And yesterday, the City published a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a consultant to help them create a two-year strategic plan that, “defines PBOT’s vision statement, mission statement and guiding principles.”

This is a big deal.

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