Portland City Council Tells Bureaucrats to Stop Replying to Emails About Rose Quarter Highway Project

Local officials rapidly revoked their support for the project last week, following the lead of Albina Vision Trust.

How serious is the Portland City Council about rescinding its support for the expansion of Interstate 5 in the Rose Quarter? It instructed city bureaucrats to no longer take meetings or reply to emails that contribute to the highway project.

"Effectively immediately, we are directing all City Bureaus to suspend all operations until further notice related to the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project," says a July 6 letter to city bureau directors, signed by Mayor Ted Wheeler and his three colleagues on the council. "This includes attending meetings, providing technical support or responding to project emails."

The letter, which has been obtained by WW, was first reported Monday by The Oregonian. It officially suspends all city involvement in the Rose Quarter highway expansion, the largest transportation project in the state.

Local leaders rapidly revoked their support for the project last week, following the lead of Albina Vision Trust, a nonprofit that seeks to restore the city's largest Black neighborhood. That was a devastating blow to the Oregon Department of Transportation, which is running the project in a political moment when state and local governments are reckoning with a history of racial inequality.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees transportation, was among the leaders who revoked support. In a statement, she said the project adds to the racist history of Portland's transportation. After a meeting with ODOT officials, she said she felt the project's executive steering committee had no intention of compromising.

"ODOT did not seem to grasp the concept of restorative justice, and we were unlikely to achieve the outcomes we were seeking," she said.

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