In coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, and in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) published the Revised Environmental Assessment and the Finding of No Significant Impact for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. The Revised Environmental Assessment includes copies of all comments received during the 45-day comment period on the 2019 Environmental Assessment and a summary of ODOT’s and FHWA’s comment responses. In direct response to several public comments, including comments from the City of Portland, the project team took action to modify the design concept to avoid impacts to the Eastbank Esplanade. The southbound segment of Interstate 5 south of I-84 has been modified such that it no longer encroaches over the Eastbank Esplanade. With this change, the project will no longer require construction in the Willamette River.
Also in direct response to partner agency and stakeholder feedback on the Environmental Assessment, in January 2020, the Oregon Transportation Commission directed ODOT to conduct an environmental peer review of the project’s Environmental Assessment analysis on air quality, noise, and greenhouse emissions. The peer review panel included air and noise quality experts from around the country who reviewed ODOT’s methodologies and findings to determine if they were conducted correctly. The Peer Review Report agreed with ODOT’s original findings for air quality, noise, and greenhouse gas emissions impacts for the project and did not suggest that ODOT conduct additional environmental studies.
“While this closes the chapter on the Environmental Assessment, now the real works begin,” said Project Director, Megan Channell. “We are excited to work with the community and our project partners to design and build a project that provides the most community benefit. Moving forward we are centering the project’s process to elevate the voices of the Black community.”
The next chapter includes convening three advisory bodies, the Executive Steering Committee, the Historic Albina Advisory Board, and the Community Oversight Advisory Committee. The Executive Steering Committee and the Historic Albina Advisory Board will help shape the look and feel of the highway covers and local streets for the final project, and will meet on a regular basis moving forward. The Community Oversight Advisory Board provides an oversight for the project’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and workforce program.
In addition to the outreach, ODOT announced hiring a Construction Manager/General Contractor team that will unlock opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises which includes minority-and women-owned businesses.