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USDOT awards $450 million to help reconnect what previous grant disconnected

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(The Center Square) – The United States Department of Transportation provided $450 million to the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project late last week. The money will fund the construction of a highway cap over part of Interstate 5 to help reconnect Lower Albina.

“The I-5 Rose Quarter Project is an ambitious project and this catalytic investment will relieve traffic, create new community spaces, foster innovative development, and reconnect communities that were divided and cut off from economic opportunities by Portland’s transportation infrastructure,” Oregon Governor Tina Kotek said in a statement.

U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, also expressed support for the funding.

“For years, I’ve worked to build support among local leaders, governors, and most recently, the Secretary of Transportation in support of reconnecting and revitalizing Lower Albina,” Blumenauer said. “Lower Albina was the historic heart of Portland’s Black community before decades of racist and discriminatory policy tore apart and displaced the community. This funding is transformative not just for Portland but … as a national model to heal communities torn apart by destructive federal projects. We are showing how to do it right with this investment.”

The cover will make part of the interstate a tunnel, and on top of it, there will be developable land. The historically black neighborhood where this will happen was cut in half by the Interstate in the 1960s, according to KGW.

The I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project will reconnect local streets and make new community spaces that the state hopes will result in future development and economic opportunities.

“This new cover will also include seismic upgrades, making the structure over I-5 more resilient in the event of the Cascadia earthquake,” the release said.

Kotek wrote a letter in September 2023 to support the USDOT for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, the release from the governor’s office said.

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