Revision Proposal for SE Quadrant of I-5/I-405 Loop

Guest contributor Ron Swaren is a regular commenter on Portland Transport.

I have suggested this to the Oregon Department of Transportation as a means to eliminate several ramps in the Central Eastside Industrial District and to consolidate merging to and from the Interstate System, the Morrison Bridge and Highway 99E.

1. Redirect I-5 Southbound to Hwy 99E Southbound.

Current: Exit ramp leaves I-5 at about NE Everett, covers Eastbank Esplanade, merges onto SE Morrison at SE 2nd Ave. and merges to Hwy 99 at MLK, Jr. Bv.
Revision: Joins I-84 Eastbound ramp, using added second lane, and merges to MLK Jr. Bv. at NE Davis/Everett St.

2. Redirect I-84 Westbound to Hwy 99E Southbound

Current: Uses I-84 to I-5 merging ramp, then splits off at SE 2nd to join ramp from I-5 to Hwy 99E.
Revision: Uses Lloyd Bv. exit, west to intersection with MLK and Grand Ave. Another potential exit is to Lloyd Bv. at NE 1st Ave.

3. Redirect I-5 Southbound to Morrison Br. Westbound

Current: Uses ramp in #1.
Revision: Shorter ramp from I-5 leaving at SE Washington.

4. Hwy 99 Northbound/ Morrison Br. Westbound to I-5

Current: Left turn to SE Belmont, then long ramp to I-5.
Revision: Signalized Right turn to 2-lane ramp serving I-5 Northbound and I-84. Full stop light to allow #5 below

5. Hwy 99 /Morrison Bridge Eastbound to I-5/I-84

Current: Uses lengthy ramp going over bridge and then rapid succession of mergers with #4 and then I-5 and I-84.
Revision: Signalized left turn on E. side of Morrison Bridge via ramp which now goes to I-84. Joins ramp in #4 and splits off to I-84.

6. Stop light on Morrison Br. Eastbound between Water Ave and Eastbank Esplanade.

Current: There is none because there is no cross traffic.
Revision: This allows left turning traffic from #5 to proceed safely.


red stars indicate new traffic lights

(The local cross streets may not in fact exist, but this is what the street name would be at that location. The red stars in the right hand map indicate traffic lights. Hwy 99E , which is MLK Bv. and Grand Ave, is highlighted in red.)

It probably will not be fiscally feasible to relocate I-5 several blocks east as some propose. However my plan would eliminate freeway ramps covering or intruding into five blocks in the CID district. It would remove the majority of the highway ramps intruding into the Eastbank Esplanade. Additionally I think the cloverleaf from MLK to Morrison Bridge Westbound could be built over. I don’t have an alternative for I-84 Westbound to I-5 Southbound except the present ramp.

The on ramp from Morrison Bridge to I-5 and I-84 would be two lanes wide, but I am not sure whether a left merging lane to I-84 would be appropriate or just use the present lengthier ramp which merges into I-84 from the right. However, the second option would not eliminate that ramp from potential building space. This eliminates a hazardous merger now where the Morrison bridge ramps merge together and then rather quickly on to I-5. This should be significantly lengthened to allow more merger time and northbound traffic would be, effectively, divided into two groups, possibly metered. This intersection would be similar to that of NE Broadway and Weidler to I-5 Northbound.

In the N/NE Quadrant project a two block long section of I-5 is proposed to have a plaza above it. So, could this not also be done over I-5 near the Eastbank Esplanade?

There is a lot of structural steel, aluminum railing and lighting in these ramps that could be salvaged for other transportation uses. The concrete can also be recycled.

Disadvantages are: More traffic on Lloyd Boulevard and far more on MLK. Jr. Boulevard, competing also with Eastside Streetcar. Property for off ramp in #1 should be purchased before any sizable building is put there. However, I think there is adequate capacity on both MLK and Grand. Merging traffic from the Morrison Br. to I-5 would come in clumps, not randomly as present.

With ODOT currently analyzing the N/NE Quadrant of the I-405 Loop in Downtown Portland it will eventually move on to analyzing the other sections. This would presumably be the SE Quadrant. Inside of the floating portion of the Eastbank Esplanade there is a portion of the Willamette, covered by the Hwy 99 ramp, that could be opened for better use. Several blocks in the Central Eastside District would be restored to completeness, ready for building. Material could be recycled and reused.

What do you think?

6 responses to “Revision Proposal for SE Quadrant of I-5/I-405 Loop”

  1. This would go well with my calls to demolish the Hawthorne/Madison and Morrion/Belmont viaducts, at least east of the UPRR tracks.

    Also, what of traffic heading from I-84 westbound onto the Morrison Bridge? Would the I-84 onramp enter I-5 before the Morrison Bridge off-ramp? Part of the reason for the current structure is to eliminate merge/weave conflicts.

  2. Good question. Poss. solutions;
    1. Morrison bridge is only accessed from 99E, like other bridges. So, no ramp at all S.bound
    2. Speed limit through the loop is reduced so weaving problem is safer
    3. Eventual congestion effectively reduces speed, anyway
    4.I-5 Southbound for Morrison Br. is instructed to use R. lane for (because there will be three when the N/NE quadrant is done)
    5. No trucks use that exit.

  3. “This would go well with my calls to demolish the Hawthorne/Madison and Morrion/Belmont viaducts, at least east of the UPRR tracks.”

    That would alleviate the cloverleafs at Morrison/Belmont and MLK. And would give buildings on these blocks fronts at street level. I suppose you could heat the road surface in these shorter approaches, in case of black ice conditions. You know how people in Portland drive when it gets icy…..

  4. Although the thought of routing I-5 traffic onto 99E makes my neck hairs stand on end, this is an intriguing proposal. I like the idea of removing/consolidating as many ramps as possible, and as much as I’d like to see I-5 moved a few blocks east, it’s not gonna happen anytime soon, and shorter-term solutions like this offer food for thought.

  5. It’s not routing additional traffic on to 99E, just providing a different place to access it. Namely, moving the connection north roughly half a mile for S bound vehicles. And consolidating the entrances for N bound. That’s the gist of it…..

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