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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Portland

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Portland, OR. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Portland's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Portland. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Portland, OR. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Portland, OR

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Portland,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Portland, OR

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Portland, OR

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Portland, OR

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Portland, OR, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Portland, OR

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Portland, OR

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Portland, OR.

 Greek Grocery Store Portland, OR

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.

4.

They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Portland, OR

Latest News in Portland, OR

Downtown Is a Ghost Town. Create a Six-Block Carless Square in the Heart of Portland.

Problem: Downtown is a ghost town.Idea: Create a six-block Carless Square in the heart of Portland.Urban planners have long said foot traffic is the key ingredient of a healthy, thriving downtown core. Right now, that’s exactly what Portland is missing.Some downtown blocks, like those along Broadway, have started to attract shoppers again. But turn a corner, and you get a wall of plywood, or an empty parking garage.“The beauty of any city is the ability to stroll and always be surprised i...

Problem: Downtown is a ghost town.

Idea: Create a six-block Carless Square in the heart of Portland.

Urban planners have long said foot traffic is the key ingredient of a healthy, thriving downtown core. Right now, that’s exactly what Portland is missing.

Some downtown blocks, like those along Broadway, have started to attract shoppers again. But turn a corner, and you get a wall of plywood, or an empty parking garage.

“The beauty of any city is the ability to stroll and always be surprised in a good way. Right now, there are huge gaps between things that are open,” says Tad Savinar, a former member of the city’s design review board and a local artist.

Portland runs a real risk of losing its most pivotal neighborhood. So now is the time to remember what made that neighborhood distinctive in the first place: walking.

Now therapy is also readily available in Portland.

Connect with your therapist through video, phone, or text.

In the 1970s, as other major cities tried to emulate the suburbs by building parking garages and shopping malls, Portland went the other direction. Then-Mayor Neil Goldschmidt built Pioneer Courthouse Square, and arranged for MAX trains to converge at that central plaza.

“Portland made a profound decision that it would make its downtown for people, not vehicles. We made active uses for ground floors. None of that stuff was there before 1972,” says Ethan Seltzer, emeritus professor at Portland State University’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. “In a way, we’re back at that stage of seeking a wide range of ways to activate downtown.”

Here’s how to do that: ban car traffic from six square blocks of downtown Portland and make the swath of land into a hub of food, retail and greenspace that draws people to a concentrated part of the city to shop, dine and linger. Think the Portland Farmers Market, but every day of the week.

City Hall has a model for this: Former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty founded a pandemic-era program that gave restaurants a lifeline for survival and transformed some city streets into car-free zones. The program, called Healthy Businesses, blocked off streets—Southeast 79th Avenue, Southwest Harvey Milk Street, among others—and allowed restaurants to extend seating onto the asphalt so that restaurants could remain open throughout social distancing mandates.

Imagine that experiment were replicated on a greater scale. In essence, Pioneer Courthouse Square would grow to become a six-block piazza, stretching from the Park Blocks on the west to Chapman and Lownsdale squares on the east. You could stroll from a movie at Fox Tower to dinner at Portland City Grill without once checking for oncoming traffic.

Savinar says changes to downtown’s landscape could be gradual. “You have to take small bites,” he says. “Small, one-block street closures for a festival, and seeing if you can draw a little circle a little further out from those places.”

One might look to Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colo., as an example of a carless outdoor promenade. The cobbled streets are lined with brunch spots with outdoor seating, bars, trinket shops and boutiques, musicians trying to make a buck, and performers on stilts juggling flaming objects. A similar walking mall exists in Charlottesville, Va., lined by bookstores and theaters. Boston has such a destination market; Seattle and San Francisco lure tourists with their fishing wharves.

Portland could outdo all of them. It does not need a signature attraction to lure people back downtown. It only needs to give them a space to gather.

G-Love Owner Garrett Benedict’s Favorite Portland Restaurants and Food Carts

Welcome to Dining Confidential, a monthly column in which local chefs talk about their favorite places in Portland, highlighting their own restaurant’s ethos, sharing fun personal takes, and fostering a community spirit. Know of a chef you’d like to see featured? Let us know via our tip line.G-Love is home to one o...

Welcome to Dining Confidential, a monthly column in which local chefs talk about their favorite places in Portland, highlighting their own restaurant’s ethos, sharing fun personal takes, and fostering a community spirit. Know of a chef you’d like to see featured? Let us know via our tip line.

G-Love is home to one of Portland’s most personal and immersive dining experiences. The strangest thing is, it can’t be had in the restaurant. Nightly, chef and owner Garrett Benedict parks his personal bus outside, opening its doors for parties of two to adventure through his menu amid string lights and a lava lamp. It feels like eating in the brain of the chef, and you can certainly feel the mileage.

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Benedict traveled to the Napa Valley to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone before working at the Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood and Ubuntu. After four years, he bought his bus and traveled the country for six months, cooking at 35 different restaurants anywhere from one day to two weeks. That journey ended in Philadelphia, where he stayed for two years, before moving back to San Francisco for another seven to work at Michelin-starred Al’s Place. Now, he’s landed in Portland with the first restaurant of his own: G-Love, a produce-heavy, super-seasonal “reverse steakhouse” in a rapidly expanding section of Northwest Portland. We sat down with Benedict to chat about his local indulgences — from pizza to oysters to diner breakfast staples.

Eater: So, after all that traveling, what finally brought you to Portland?

Garrett Benedict: In 2012, my parents bought Olde Moon Farm in Silverton. They don’t run it, they only own the land, but I immediately hit them up and asked, “What do you think about my future restaurant being in Portland and partnering with the farm?” I always loved Portland as a food city and could always kind of see myself landing here.

Can you talk about where the “reverse steakhouse” concept originated?

I was eating at Ox with my sister and brother, forever ago, and we were talking about what the future restaurant could be. I loved working at Ubuntu, the vegetarian restaurant, but I didn’t want to give up certain fish and meat ingredients I like to cook with and eat. My sister dropped the concept in my lap: “What if it was like a steakhouse, but instead of the meat being the main thing, the meat was the side thing and the sides were the main thing?”

What other restaurants have been a source of inspiration?

For me, the other places I had worked in California. When you come to G-Love, it’s a somewhat unique setup. There aren’t a lot of restaurants in Portland that have a really high-energy, party feel right when you walk in the door. The music’s elevated, the vibe is elevated, and the food itself reflects my experiences. I feel like we’re trying to do something here that people can’t get anywhere else. Based on the success the restaurant’s had, it’s working.

Moving into your personal life: what are your go-tos when you’re not at G-Love?

I live just down the street, so I wanted to call out places local to me. On Monday mornings, my first day off, I always get a Hot Tony and a Wildwood from Pizza Thief, which I love. Farmer and the Beast, the food cart, I love their burgers and salads.

Stepping Stone, the diner right up here, I used to go there every morning. Sleep in, then stumble in, not even awake yet. I love the whole vibe in there, I always sit at the counter, I almost always go alone. It’s entertainment, and it has a classic diner vibe, something that feels like it’s going away.

What’s your go-to order there?

Well, my last name is Benedict…

Yes, you have to.

Oh, St. Jack! I sit at their bar, order a couple dozen oysters, fries, a couple dirty martinis, and just hang out. I love how consistent it is. You know exactly what you’re gonna get, it’s done exceptionally well, and it’s always the same. It’s like a guiding light.

They kind of set the template for the new wave of what restaurants in this neighborhood look like, including yours. Nothing in this neighborhood looked like that until they did, and now everything does.

I think my favorite restaurant in Portland is Jacqueline, at the original St Jack location. The chef, Derek [Hanson], is awesome, the nicest guy. Before G-Love opened, I didn’t even know the guy, and he sent me all of these great front-of-house employees. So generous, and his food is insane.

I love Angel Face, too. I love how small it is, and it’s a cool concept: Don’t just order a cocktail, tell me what you like, what you want. That immersive interaction.

Which you have some elements of here, too, interactive bits of service. Letting people dine in your bus, bringing complimentary doughnuts at the end of each meal. Those little touches give your place a strong identity.

During that initial COVID lockdown, it was so depressing. Just five of us alone in the restaurant every day, no energy or vibe. I was driving my bus around and one day I decided to pull up onto the sidewalk, put the pop-top up, and try to attract more people. People started coming by and the area started feeling a little more alive. The doughnuts, I didn’t want to put them on the menu, I just wanted to give everybody a little gift and exclamation point at the end of the meal. They’ve already hopefully had a great time — it’s just another thing that’s memorable.

Historic downtown Portland church burns in 3-alarm fire

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – A three-alarm fire destroyed an historic church in downtown Portland Tuesday evening.Shortly before 5:30 p.m., Portland Fire & Rescue crews were called out to a fire at the Old Portland Korean Church at the corner of Southwest 10th and Southwest Clay. PF&R said there were reports the fire was pushing out of the church and that flames were impinging up against a home to the east of the building.The three-story wooden 3,000 square-foot church was completed in 1905 and served a Korean congregat...

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – A three-alarm fire destroyed an historic church in downtown Portland Tuesday evening.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., Portland Fire & Rescue crews were called out to a fire at the Old Portland Korean Church at the corner of Southwest 10th and Southwest Clay. PF&R said there were reports the fire was pushing out of the church and that flames were impinging up against a home to the east of the building.

The three-story wooden 3,000 square-foot church was completed in 1905 and served a Korean congregation during the time of use. It church was unoccupied and not actively in use at the time of the fire.

“We saw huge flames above the church. Like, really huge flames,” Joe Silvey says. “Insane. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Fire crews were unable to get inside quickly as the building has been marked as unsafe, with holes in the floors from previous fires. Crews attacked the fire from the outside and by using ladder trucks.

With the fire growing rapidly a second and third alarm were added to bring in more resources. In total, PF&R said 20 crews responded, placing 80 firefighters at the scene.

Much of the fire was extinguished an hour into the incident, according to PF&R. Crews were able to stop the flames that were impinging on the nearby home.

Different crews rotated throughout the night to operate water flow and watch for any fire growth.

Due to concerns of a potential collapse of the steeple, there will be no vehicle or pedestrian traffic on SW Clay from SW 11th to SW Park. Traffic will also be limited on SW 10th between SW Columbia and SW Market. The Portland Streetcar will be servicing their routes using buses as this section will be closed at this time.

Fire apparatus will be blocking the intersection of SW 10th and Clay for the night and into the next day. Please plan accordingly for your travel.

— Portland Fire & Rescue (@PDXFire) January 4, 2023

There were no injuries reported due to the fire.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. PF&R said investigators will resume the investigation Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2023 KPTV-KPDX. All rights reserved.

'I haven’t been able to stop': More potent, addictive form of meth impacts Portland’s homeless population

Oregon has the highest rates of methamphetamine and prescription opioid misuse in the nation, according to SAMHSA.PORTLAND, Ore. — Two men smoked meth out of a glass pipe on the corner of Northwest 4th Avenue and Glisan Street in Portland's Old Town on a dry December morning. One sat in a wheelchair while the other kneeled on a piece of cardboard covered in drugs,...

Oregon has the highest rates of methamphetamine and prescription opioid misuse in the nation, according to SAMHSA.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two men smoked meth out of a glass pipe on the corner of Northwest 4th Avenue and Glisan Street in Portland's Old Town on a dry December morning. One sat in a wheelchair while the other kneeled on a piece of cardboard covered in drugs, a banana, old shoes and a green-and-black scarf.

It was his third hit that morning. Typically, he said, he smokes meth 15 times a day.

“I couldn’t handle being out on the streets without drugs. It would drive me nuts,” he said. He’s been addicted to drugs, including heroin and methamphetamine, for more than 40 years.

Like a number of other homeless people KGW has spoken to within the last year, this man said that it's incredibly easy to get these drugs on the streets of Portland.

“There have been times where I haven’t had money for three weeks and I still get high every day,” he added.

Tonight on @KGWNews & @TheStoryKGW meet two homeless men who are addicted to this drug plus how Oregon has the highest rate of methamphetamine misuse in the nation. pic.twitter.com/4uZT6aUTjy

— Blair Best (@blairgbest) January 4, 2023

The type of methamphetamine he was smoking is known as P2P meth. It’s a smaller, more potent and highly addictive type of meth that’s becoming one of the leading drugs on Portland’s streets. Research shows that it’s causing an increase in overdose deaths. According to city data, drug overdoses among homeless people in Portland increased 94% between 2019 and 2021.

Many of those overdoses are caused by opioids, particularly fentanyl. But an increasing share are caused by meth.

“Our community is awash in these inexpensive and highly addictive drugs ... fentanyl, and the drug that we’re all watching across America right now is what is called P2P meth,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler at a breakfast forum for Portland business leaders in early December where he promoted his plan to address homelessness.

“Once you use this P2P meth, it very quickly scrambles your brain permanently — meaning some of the individuals who you see who are addicted to P2P meth, they will never be able to function on their own again. They will be institutionalized, or they will be relegated to the streets for the rest of their lives,” Mayor Wheeler said.

However, local doctors like Amanda Risser, senior medical director of substance use disorder services at Central City Concern, see it differently.

“I do not think that people who use P2P meth are doomed to a lifetime of institutionalization,” Risser said. “A lot of our patients who are using fentanyl, especially if they’re experiencing homelessness, find that if they’re using methamphetamine it helps counteract the sedating effects of the fentanyl.”

Research shows people using methamphetamines can be at risk of developing a severe mental illness, but not all.

“We are seeing that folks get better with treatment, we’re seeing that folks get better when they’re housed,” Risser explained.

Risser works at Hooper Detox Stabilization Center in North Portland where they are struggling to keep up with the demand for addiction treatment services.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national survey on drug use and health, Oregon has the highest rates of methamphetamine and prescription opioid misuse in the nation. Oregon ranks first in the nation for percent of the population needing but not receiving treatment for substance use disorders, second in the nation for deaths due to drug use and sixth in the nation for deaths due to alcohol.

Portland’s health care system has been strained over the past few years, and as a result doctors are seeing people’s health worsen — like the two men smoking meth in Old Town.

Substance abuse specialists are urging local government to invest in growing their workforce so they can keep up with the needs on the streets.

“I’m concerned with any plan that promises to connect folks with treatment that isn’t really focusing on our workforce issues, which are very serious,” said Risser.

As for those struggling with addiction and being homeless, getting clean can seem almost impossible.

“I generally end up just not following through because it takes so darn long to get in anywhere," said one of the two Old Town men. "I wish there was more that we could do, but I don’t know — we’re too far gone.”

Portland’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees raise grave warnings about I-5 Rose Quarter project

Despite the City of Portland’s attempts to calm them down, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees remain deeply concerned about the I-5 Rose Quarter Project.The controversial, $1.4 billion Oregon Department of Transportation project that seeks to widen I-5 through Portland’s ce...

Despite the City of Portland’s attempts to calm them down, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees remain deeply concerned about the I-5 Rose Quarter Project.

The controversial, $1.4 billion Oregon Department of Transportation project that seeks to widen I-5 through Portland’s central city and build a large cover over freeway traffic in order to “reconnect” the Albina neighborhood that was devastated by its construction decades ago. ODOT opened a second public comment period in mid-November as part of their federally obligated environmental review process. Many local advocacy groups and committees have written letters outlining their feedback and concerns about the revised design proposal. What is clear — and what will become even more clear at a People’s Public Hearing being hosted by nonprofit No More Freeways in north Portland tonight — is that despite a compromise forged by Governor Tina Kotek and a recent return to the project by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the project remains very unpopular with many Portlanders who care about the safety of people who walk and bike.

On December 27th, members of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) sent a letter to City Council members that will act as its official comment on the project. “We are deeply concerned that this project fails to meet a wide variety of city, county, regional, and statewide goals,” their letter states. “While the buildable highway cover is a laudable step toward restorative justice,” the letter continues, “the project would still add several lane miles of highway, compromise one of the most heavily used bikeways in the city, expand I-5’s footprint, and increase emissions including greenhouse gasses (GHG) in a marginalized community previously impacted by highway construction.”

The BAC is especially worried about the proposed location of the I-5 southbound off-ramp that will dump thousands of drivers onto North Williams Avenue. They say that decision, which ODOT admits will increase stress for bicycle riders and walkers if built as proposed, “Presents significant safety issues for the most vulnerable roadway users and is inconsistent with the City’s design standards.” The also says they feel putting the Green Loop alignment on Broadway and Weidler is unacceptable and they want the project to add back the formerly proposed Clackamas Crossing Bridge(see above) that would have created a carfree crossing over I-5 south of Weidler between from the Lloyd to the Rose Quarter.

The city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee PAC is so opposed to the project they want PBOT to withdraw their support completely. Their official letter hasn’t been finalized yet, but a draft version states,

We call on PBOT to withdraw support of the Hybrid 3 concept, which would introduce a highway off-ramp into an area with heavy foot traffic, remove crosswalks, and generally worsen conditions for active modes. The current proposal goes in the wrong direction on climate, the wrong direction on safety, and the wrong direction on our modal goals, while providing little promise of accountability and follow-through for the few positive claims it can make.”

Their letter with that language was approved by the committee, but when it was submitted to PBOT, the city’s liaison to the project, Sharon Daleo, urged them to revise it. According to an email exchange with PAC members, Daleo said she hoped the PAC could change the wording of the letter so it was more supportive and “less inflammatory” of the project.

Daleo and PBOT are finding out how hard it is to walk the fine line between honoring their constituents concerns and serving their partners at ODOT. Former PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly wasn’t willing to do that, so she walked away entirely from the project and made the unprecedented move of pulling all City of Portland staff off the project. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty reversed that position and PBOT now finds themselves in this unenviable position.

For Pedestrian Advisory Committee members, the project isn’t worth the cost of PBOT staff time that they feel would be better spent elsewhere.

“These negative impacts to pedestrian safety and comfort are notable even before considering how much ODOT is leaning on the City of Portland to contribute staff time and funding toward surface street changes and other support when those resources are urgently needed to mitigate deadly conditions in hundreds of other locations citywide,” their letter states. “We urge PBOT to withdraw its support.”

So far, the PAC hasn’t re-submitted a revised letter. The public comment period ends tomorrow, January 4th.

— The People’s Public Hearing begins at 6:00 pm tonight (Tuesday, January 3rd) at Harriet Tubman Middle School. You can watch a livestream and/or a recap here.

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