I-5 Rose Quarter project updates: City of Portland pulls all support, The Columbian weighs in, what comes next
Huge news from the Portland Mercury and Willamette Week: The nonprofit Albina Vision Trust has decided it will no longer support the Oregon Department of Transportation’s I-5 Rose Quarter project and they will no longer participate in an advisory role.
In a tweet posted today, reporter Blair Stevnick wrote, “Albina Vision Trust is withdrawing from all planning on ODOT’s Rose Quarter 1-5 project, saying that ‘Despite our good faith efforts, we do not see our engagement resulting in meaningful changes to the project or its anticipated outcomes.'”
Despite a majority of Metro Council expressing concerns about the future of a nearly $800 million project that will expand the I-5 freeway through the Rose Quarter, only two out of seven members voted against giving the Oregon Department of Transportation $129 million to continue working on it.
The 5-2 vote came at a meeting just hours after the Oregon Transportation Commission gave ODOT permission to move forward with the project without the rigorous environmental analysis called for by hundreds of Portlanders, many organizations and key local elected officials including Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. On the Metro Council agenda was a resolution to greenlight funding that allows ODOT to do two things: Purchase “right-of-way” parcels in the Rose Quarter where they’ll stage future construction equipment; and continue to pay expenses related to project development, outreach and preliminary engineering, and so on. (It’s the same funding passed by a Metro advisory committee last week.[Read more…]
The oversight body for the Oregon Department of Transportation has given the agency permission to move forward on their $715 million I-5 Rose Quarter project without doing more rigorous and independent analysis of its environmental and community impacts.
In a 5-0 vote taken on a meeting held over the phone today, Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Robert Van Brocklin said he was satisfied with steps taken by ODOT thus far and that, “I just don’t find the basis in the record to change to an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement].”
At issue was whether ODOT should be required to perform an EIS or stick with their already completed Environmental Assessment. Both processes are part of the US Federal Highway Administration National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). ODOT completed an EA last February, a step required to determine whether or not a project will have significant impacts.
With their vote today, the OTC has swept aside serious concerns and calls for an EIS by many regional elected leaders and organizations, and thousands of Portlanders who oppose the project. In the past two weeks alone, the group No More Freeways says over 350 people submitted public comment calling for an EIS. Last spring a comment period led to over 2,000 public omments, 89% of which were in opposition to the project. [Read more…]
We’re at that awkward stage in a highway mega-project when the agency in charge is under a cloud of controversy and still (after years of planning) doesn’t have an official endorsement to start construction, but still wants money to keep the project moving forward.
Of course I’m talking about the Oregon Department of Transportation and the I-5 Rose Quarter Project. And it seems whenever I do, there’s growing skepticism and concern from regional leaders about it.
Here’s the latest…
Tonight was supposed to be the first meeting of the I-5 Rose Quarter Project Community Advisory Committee. Due to public health concerns, it has been postponed and will be rescheduled in an online-only format (public will be invited, see updated details below). This is the committee foisted upon the Oregon Department of Transportation by their bosses on the Oregon Transportation Commission to try and get a handle on the thorny public debates surrounding the controversial project.
Back in January we encouraged readers to apply and it appears that a least a few of you did. I noticed lots of familiar names among the 147 applicants. In the end, ODOT selected 24 people. Here are their names, with a selected blurb from their application (followed by several other important project updates):[Read more…]
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:[Read more…]
The Oregonian reported today that the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) meeting slated for March 20th will be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
That’s the right decision given the state of the outbreak and current “social distancing” best practices. But the decision that caught my eye was that they plan to hold a “telephonic meeting” sometime in early April “to decide the fate of the freeway project.”
That “freeway project” is the I-5 Rose Quarter project, a highly controversial plan to spend nearly $800 million to widen I-5 and make changes to surface streets. This is a very consequential meeting where OTC members will finally make a decision about whether or not the Oregon Department of Transportation needs to do more thorough environmental analysis of the project’s impacts. The OTC delayed a vote on this subject at their December meeting and then got an earful from regional politicians at their January meeting. After cancelling their February meeting, we were supposed to finally hear their decision on March 20th.[Read more…]
“We will no longer be considering signing a letter of concurrence.”
— Brett Horner, Portland Parks & Recreation