For years, we’ve been following the tortured Oregon Department of Transportation Plans to widen a 1.5 mile stretch of I-5 near downtown Portland. The past few months show this project is in serious trouble. Here’s a summary of our reporting of key issues
Another exploding whale: The cost of the Rose Quarter has quadrupled to $1.9 billion. In 2017, the project was sold to the Oregon Legislature based on an estimated price of $450 million. Since then, ODOT has diverted nearly all of the money earmarked for this project to other freeway expansions.
ODOT’s Plan: Extend and Pretend. Governor Kotek forced ODOT to prepare a financial plan for its massive freeway expansion program. ODOT now admits the Rose Quarter faces a $1.35 to 1.75 billion financial hole, with no identified solution.
Pens Down: ODOT staff claim it’s too late to question the design of the bloated $1.9 billion Rose Quarter Freeway widening, even though they also say it’s only 30 percent designed, and they have a new design the public hasn’t seen yet.
The Rose Quarter project is so expensive because it’s too damn wide; Just up the road in Vancouver, the Washington Department of Transportation is planning an acre-sized freeway cover over I-5 to connect downtown Vancouver to historic Fort Vancouver for a mere $40 million.
Who sold out the Historic Albina Advisory Board? ODOT has advertised its freeway widening project as a way to promote restorative justice for the historically Black Albina neighborhood it destroyed with decades of highway construction. But now ODOT can’t fund the Rose Quarter project, because for the How ODOT took money from the Rose Quarter project and used it to widen a suburban freeway bridge.
Lying about freeway width: For years, ODOT has been concealing the actual width the Rose Quarter project, and deceiving the public about its plans for a 10-lane highway.
One-tenth of one-percent: What Black contractors got from ODOT’s biggest construction project. While ODOT claims to want to help Black contractors, its current largest construction project, the I-205 Abernethy Bridge, has spent just one-tenth of one percent of its budget with Black contractors.