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ODOT answers public's questions about I-5 improvements in Rose Quarter

Interstate 5 (KATU Photo)

On Tuesday night Oregon’s Department of Transportation held an open house to talk with the public about its plan for a massive, $450 million improvement project to I-5 through the Rose Quarter.

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, funded by the state, will add an auxiliary lane to I-5 between I-84 and I-405, build lids over two parts of the freeway, increase bike and pedestrian connectivity, and more.

Project Manager Megan Channell describes the project as more than just a freeway widening project.

“The purpose of the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement project is really safety and operations of I-5,” Channell said.

I-5 through the Rose Quarter is known as one of the worst freeway bottlenecks in the state as the number of traffic lanes reduce to two lanes in the city center. ODOT says there are up to 12 hours of congestion there each day and it is the number one crash site in the state of Oregon.

“This project on I-5 is adding auxiliary lanes, or what we call ramp-to-ramp lanes that connect I-84 to I-405 to give drivers more space to make those movements and reduce the number of crashes we see on I-5, but then reduce travel time delay and increase reliability,” Channell said.

There are several groups opposed to the project, many of them signed a letter to Portland City Council describing their concerns.

Among the organizations opposed is the Community Cycling Center.

“We don't see this project as the best possible way to invest $450 million in improving everyone's transportation options in Portland,” said Kasandra Griffin, Executive Director for Community Cycling Center.

The organizations opposed to the ODOT plan say this will not reduce congestion on the freeway. Griffin added that safety is not a major concern in the Rose Quarter. She thinks the state should be investing money in East Portland where there are several areas of concern.

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