ODOT Teases New Highway Covers Options

For many years, The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been planning to do a major widening of I-5 through the “Rose Quarter” (underneath the Flint, Broadway, Weidler, Williams, and Vancouver bridges). This project will be at least $800 Million and cause severe disruption to the southern Eliot Neighborhood if built. Recently,

Community activists were invited to serve on a committee which was then disbanded. Many groups have been largely panning the project due to its environmental costs, huge financial costs, and lack of local benefits. Due to these considerations, ODOT was advised to hire an outside analyst to look at how to improve the highway covers that they will be building for this project to see if they could be used to hold buildings and meaningful public space. This analysis is one of the things we had been asking for since the beginning of the project. ODOT seems quite nervous about slowing the schedule for their project and is additionally worried about the project being canceled due to a lack of public support.

Some of these new plans are interesting and worth looking at.

The current design has been modified from the original due to landowners deciding to develop on some parcels destined to have roads.

One updated option keeps N Flint and N Hancock fully in-tact

Other things being considered include merging Vancouver with Flint and moving the on- and off-ramps to the south of NE Weidler Street. This would make it more difficult for cars to get from Vancouver to Southbound I-5 but would probably reduce cut-through traffic in Eliot as well. These changes to the project definitely seem like improvements over the existing design; however, the project still will require huge construction impacts and widen I-5 from its current 2-lanes plus narrow shoulders in each direction. The new width under the bridges would be a 150-160’ wide trench that could be easily painted to hold 4 or 5 lanes in each direction and possibly 6. This massive structure would be with us for at least three generations, probably more. Do we want that much land in our city dedicated to cars from now until at least the year 2100?

Disclaimer: The Eliot Neighborhood Association is currently a party to several lawsuits related to this project.

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