PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Months after officials approved widening Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter, the Oregon Department of Transportation is now required to reevaluate the economic and environmental impacts of the project before legally proceeding.
In September the Oregon Transportation Commission voted to expand the freeway but the panel expressed concern if there was enough money for all aspects of the project.
The Oregon Department of Transportation announced Thursday it would be developing an updated Environmental Assessment of the project. The announcement came one day after the federal government said it would be rescinding its initial environmental approval for the expansion and would be requiring an updated environment assessment.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, a lawsuit was filed in April of 2021 alleging ODOT failed to thoroughly research the impacts of the expansion.
“We remain concerned about this project disrupting our streets and discouraging development for years of construction before increasing traffic, congestion and pollution for future generations,” said Allan Rudwick, co-chair of the Eliot Neighborhood Association and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
ODOT is now required to complete an updated environmental assessment, which explores alternatives and evaluates how the community will be affected.
Aaron Brown, an organizer with No More Freeways shared his concerns about the freeway’s negative impact on the community, saying it would “displace two public schools, clog our neighborhood streets, pollute the air our children breathe, or destroy the planet they stand to inherit.”
The project has received overwhelming scrutiny from the local community and organizations as 91% of comments submitted to ODOT were reportedly negative.
ODOT said the project remains on schedule and construction will begin next year. Officials agreed the Hybrid 3 model was preferable. This model will reconnect the Albina neighborhood, which was cut off when the freeway was built.