I-5 is the main north-south route moving people and goods and connecting population centers across the West Coast of the United States from Mexico to Canada. In the Portland region between I-84 and I-405, I-5 is critical for truck freight and businesses moving goods, commuters traveling to and from Portland and locals traveling within the region.
The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project will provide new local street connections and I-5 improvements that work together to create new community connections and a safer, more reliable I-5 that promotes economic growth.
Urban Mobility Strategy
The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project is one component of the Oregon Department of Transportation's Urban Mobility Strategy, which includes projects such as the I-205 Improvements Project, the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program and the Regional Mobility Pricing Project.
Project Improvements Overview
The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project will make travel more predictable and safer for people driving and transporting goods on I-5 between I-84 and I-405 by adding auxiliary lanes and shoulders that smooth traffic flow. The project includes a highway cover to reconnect the Historic Albina neighborhood and street improvements that will enhance safety and access for people walking, rolling, biking, riding transit and driving on local streets. The project will support the regional economy, future economic development and a more connected Albina community. Project improvements include:
- new ramp-to-ramp lanes (auxiliary lanes) and shoulders along I-5 to reduce weaving and merging, improve safety and smooth traffic flow between I-84 and I-405
- highway cover over I-5 that will create new community spaces and enhance safety and connections for people walking, rolling, biking, riding transit and driving on local streets
- relocation of the southbound I-5 off-ramp to south of Weidler at NE Wheeler Avenue to provide more space for people walking and rolling and support local street and neighborhood connections on the highway cover
- upgrades to bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the local street network near the Broadway-Weidler interchange to improve accessibility and safety.
I-5 Ramp-to-Ramp Connections
Three roadways (I-5, I-84 and I-405) intersect in the short distance between the Morrison and Fremont bridges. The closely spaced interchanges and minimal shoulders create the worst bottleneck in the State of Oregon, the 28th worst bottleneck in the nation, and have the highest crash rate of any Oregon urban interstate.
Ramp-to-ramp connections (auxiliary lanes) provide a direct link that allows traffic to transition from one interchange ramp to the next without merging into through traffic. A recent ODOT study found that auxiliary lanes are an effective way to improve safety and reduce bottleneck congestion.
In the Portland Metro area, ODOT has completed or is planning auxiliary lane projects on I-5 and I-205. The new auxiliary lane on I-5 southbound from OR 217 to I-205 addressed the bottleneck and improved upstream traffic, as well as traffic on OR 217. At the section of highway where auxiliary lanes were added, congestion was reduced from five hours a day to one hour a day and saves drivers an estimated $8.4 million of delay per year.
With a new auxiliary lane in each direction on I-5 from I-84 to I-405, drivers will experience a safer, more reliable experience with less potential for crashes. Adding full shoulders will provide space for vehicles to move safely off the road and allow emergency vehicles safer and quicker access to an emergency.
What is a highway cover?
A highway cover is a concrete, steel platform that is placed over a highway, similar to a wide bridge. As part of the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, there is an opportunity to reconnect over I-5 by replacing existing bridges with one continuous highway cover over I-5 that will provide new neighborhood places. In addition, the new cover will also include seismic upgrades, making the structure over I-5 more resilient in the event of an earthquake.
Proposed Hybrid 3 Concept highway cover
Multiple designs for the highway cover were evaluated through an Independent Cover Assessment. The Proposed Hybrid 3 Concept was selected, as it will provide the greatest community benefit. The highway cover will connect streets that are currently divided by I-5 and add additional land, allowing wider sidewalks and new spaces for community activities. Once built, the highway cover would be able to support buildings up to 3-stories tall and possibly up to 6-stories tall. It will also meet seismic (earthquake) standards, making the structure over I-5 more resilient in the event of an earthquake and provides critical transportation access for community members and first responders.
The Proposed Hybrid 3 Concept maintains the existing N Flint Avenue I-5 overcrossing. In the future, people walking, rolling, biking, and driving will be able to use a new connection over I-5 connecting N and NE Hancock Street. Currently, there are few east-west connections over I-5 in the area. The Hancock Crossing was recommended by the community as an additional east-west connection over I-5 to access current and future destinations in Lower Albina.
This new crossing on a lower-volume street than Broadway or Weidler will include space for people walking, rolling and biking, creating a safe and more connected option in the Historic Albina neighborhood. It is aligned with Central City policies to develop and implement strategies to lessen the impact of freeways and other transportation systems on neighborhood continuity, including capping, burying or other innovative approaches.
I-5 Southbound Off-Ramp Relocation
The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project moves the I-5 southbound off-ramp to south of NE Weidler at NE Wheeler Avenue. The I-5 southbound on-ramp location will not change. Once the project is complete, both the southbound on- and off-ramps will be located south of the N Broadway and NE Weidler travel routes. This change improves and increases space for people walking, rolling and biking and supports local street and neighborhood connections on the highway cover.
Relocating the I-5 southbound off-ramp will reduce interactions between vehicles exiting I-5 and people walking, rolling and biking along local streets on the highway cover.
Local Street, Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities
The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project will improve local streets to make them safer by offering greater visibility, protection and access to people walking, rolling and biking through the Rose Quarter area. The improvements will upgrade sidewalks and bike lanes, install Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps and make lighting and other street improvements. It will also build new protected bike lanes with enough space for cyclists moving on the city's busiest bikeway. The goal of these improvements is to address Vision Zero safety priorities and ensure the community is more accessible.