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The Oregon Department of Transportation is proposing a $450 million, 1.8 lane-mile expansion of Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter between the Fremont Bridge (I-405) and the Banfield Freeway (I-84). This exorbitantly costly freeway expansion proposal would be funded through money set aside in HB 2017, the statewide transportation package that passed through Oregon’s legislature in June of 2017.

This project will have minimal impact on Portland’s congestion woes (which are undeniably bad, and getting worse) or epidemic of traffic fatalities (ditto), despite ODOT’s claims. Additionally, spending half a billion dollars on this freeway expansion has a significant opportunity cost on our ability to invest in transportation systems that actually support Portland’s stated goals to lead on climate, provide cleaner air, support healthy communities, build infrastructure for affordable housing and invest resources equitably across the city. The project, immediately adjacent to a soon-to-reopen middle school in inner North Portland, misallocates nearly half a billion dollars (twice the revenue raised by the recent affordable housing bond, and seven times the 2016 gas tax) for a project that even its proponents ultimately admit will not achieve significant return on investment.

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It’s counterproductive for Portland to make these improvements as the expense of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on an investment in increased lane miles of freeway. Not a single urban freeway expansion in North America has ever solved the problem of congestion, due to a concept that urban planners call “induced demand.” Why are city leaders willing to spend $450 million betting that somehow, the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion will be any different?

The only policy initiative that has ever had a demonstrable impact on peak congestion is road pricing. We hope to see the City of Portland lead and work with regional partners towards adopting a deliberate, community-minded approach to road pricing before spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a twentieth century solution for a twentieth century problem. Road pricing policy, if drafted appropriately, can be equitable, cost-effective, and sustainability-minded; expanding an urban freeway at a time in which 40% of Portland’s carbon emissions come from transportation can be none of these things. 

No More Freeway Expansions as a coalition grew out of community concern for this proposal. Our initial letter to Portland City Hall on August 30th was subsequently signed by over 450 community members and dozens of nonprofits representing environmental, transportation, public health, equity, climate, and neighborhood advocates.

 

Recent Posts

Have you chimed in for Decongestion Pricing?

Monday, June 25 marks the final meeting of ODOT’s Value Pricing Committee. We sent a letter (with over 200 signatures!) to the committee last month asking for bold leadership from the advisory committee to support decongestion pricing. Last month, ODOT revealed their research which stated implementing decongestion pricing on I-205 and I-5 would result in an 11% reduction … Continue reading Have you chimed in for Decongestion Pricing?

The No More Freeway Expansions Questionnaire for Portland City Council

Happy Primary Election, Portlanders! You should have received your ballot by now. (and if you haven’t, you should call the Multnomah County Election office). Incumbent Commissioner Nick Fish is running for reelection against Mr Philip J Wolfe and Ms. Julia DeGraw for Position 2 on Portland’s City Council. Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, David Douglas … Continue reading The No More Freeway Expansions Questionnaire for Portland City Council

ACTION ALERT: Tell ODOT to support Decongestion Pricing ahead of Freeway Expansion.

ACTION ALERT: SIGN OUR LETTER FOR FASTER COMMUTES, NOT FREEWAY CONGESTION This spring, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has convened a stakeholder advisory group to review potential options for instituting value pricing, or decongestion pricing, on I-5 and I-205. Our coalition believes that decongestion pricing should be implemented and studied before any potential freeway expansion anywhere … Continue reading ACTION ALERT: Tell ODOT to support Decongestion Pricing ahead of Freeway Expansion.

FOIA, TriMet Reform, OPAL and more!

FOIA’D. ODOT has filed paperwork stating their intent to move forward with an “Environmental Assessment” instead of an “Environmental Impact Statement” from the federal government as part of the legal process of moving forward with their proposed $450 million freeway expansion. We find that a bit fishy, so our partners Audubon and OPAL submitted a FOIA Request to find out … Continue reading FOIA, TriMet Reform, OPAL and more!

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