I-5 Bridge

Why funding the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project is critical

February 2024

Opinion piece originally published by Portland Business Journal on 2.6.24

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Rose Quarter Improvement Project would construct a highway cover, multimodal street improvements and a separate pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 connecting each side of the Albina neighborhood. These changes to the existing infrastructure, particularly the highway cover, will complement efforts led by others — including Albina Vision Trust, the Trail Blazers and the city of Portland — to collectively revitalize our central city, consistent with community goals and values.

Portland Metro Chamber advocates at all levels of government to improve commerce, encourage community development, and grow regional economic prosperity. One of our key values is equity, or supporting access, opportunity and advancement for all Portlanders, especially those who have faced historic systemic discrimination. Our top policy priorities are the long-term health of our central city and maintaining the Portland region’s competitiveness in the global economy. We see the Rose Quarter Improvement project as critical to meeting each one of these priorities.

The collaboration that has taken place between the critical stakeholders has resulted in a project that will benefit the local community, address traffic congestion and safety on I-5, and contribute to the long-term vibrancy of the central city.We strongly supported two Neighborhood Access and Equity Program federal grant applications for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project and Broadway Main Street Project submitted by ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation last year. These two projects collectively represent a generational opportunity for Portland to do the right thing. These projects have the potential to reconnect neighborhoods and streets and provide economic development opportunities for the community.

The I-5 Rose Quarter Project represents an opportunity for significant future investment in the community and in the people who are helping build this project. This project will invest more than $150 million for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in the area, providing opportunities for jobs and economic development. These investments represent new jobs and career paths, job training and wealth generation in the community.

Additional funding must be secured to see the project through to construction and completion. Investment in this project is a commitment to building a better future for Portland. And it will be a critical signal that we are still able do the hard work to make things happen for future generations of Portlanders.

Written by Andrew Hoan, CEO and President of Portland Metro Chamber.