ICYMI: Blumenauer, Wyden, Merkley, Bonamici Secure Nearly Half a Billion for Albina Vision Infrastructure Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley along with Congresswoman Bonamici and Mayor Ted Wheeler announced the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $450,000,000 in federal funding to the Oregon Department of Transportation for the I-5 Rose Quarter improvement project. The funding will go toward the construction of a highway cover over a portion of I-5, reconnecting the Lower Albina neighborhood.​ In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $38,394,000 to the Portland Bureau of Transportation for the redesign of N/NE Broadway and Weidler Streets in Lower Albina. 

“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. 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” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the longest-serving House member in Oregon’s congressional delegation.  

“These major federal investments in Portland will help to right the shameful wrongs inflicted on historically Black neighborhoods and to make our city a stronger and safer community for generations to come,” Wyden said. “I am gratified the teamwork to achieve these major resources totaling nearly a half-billion dollars has been accomplished for the Lower Albina neighborhood, and will keep battling to secure similar significant investments that contribute to keep Portland a great place to live and work.”

“Today marks a major milestone for the Albina community, signifying the federal government is committed to their vision of restoring Portland’s historic Black neighborhood back into one cohesive, vibrant community,” Merkley said. “When I-5 was built, it cut through the heart of Portland’s Black community, decimating the center of Black culture, politics, social life, and business. As ODOT and the City of Portland embark on this long-overdue project to right this historic wrong, we need to continue to ensure it stays true to the Albina community’s vision for the future.”

“Reconnecting the Lower Albina neighborhood is an important step that will help correct past wrongs that split a thriving Black community in Portland,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I’m grateful to have helped secure nearly half a billion dollars in federal investments to revitalize this historic district. We must continue working to address injustice and create a safer, more inclusive future for everyone in Portland, in our state, and across the county.”

“We are grateful that the Biden Administration is making this large transportation investment in the Lower Albina neighborhood,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said.“These federal dollars will help build the highway cover that will provide land for community redevelopment and to create a more walkable neighborhood. The grant for the city’s transportation bureau will allow us to transform NE Broadway into a main street that will reconnect Albina to downtown and mark a great step in creating a safer, more vibrant neighborhood.”

“Today’s news marks a momentous leap forward in the longstanding fight to rebuild Albina. The construction of Interstate 5 intentionally bisected Portland’s Black community, paving the way for decades of government-led urban renewal policies that decimated the wealth, well-being and place-based stability of our city’s most marginalized. This catalytic federal investment represents the beginning of a new chapter, one where government plays an active role in not only healing the harms of history, but investing in community-driven visions of a better tomorrow,” said Winta Yohannes, Executive Director of the Albina Vision Trust. “We are deeply appreciative of the brilliant leadership of Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and both the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration. Together, we will continue to fight to ensure that the Portland of tomorrow is a Portland for all.” 

These projects were awarded funding from through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program which was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The awards come after Blumenauer brought U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to Portland to learn about the history of Lower Albina and how a federal investment will help reconnect a neighborhood torn apart by the construction of the I-5 freeway more than a half century ago. Blumenauer also led Senators Wyden, Merkley in letters of support to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project and Broadway redesign