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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

ODOT’s Value Pricing Open House Closes Today.

Can you chime in asking for (De)congestion Pricing Before Freeway Expansion?  The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Online Open House on Congestion Pricing closes today. The No More Freeways Coalition has been closely following ODOT’s committee; we firmly believe that congestion pricing is an equitable, cost-efficient, climate-smart and necessary policy to alleviate congestion BEFORE we spend $450 million … Continue reading ODOT’s Value Pricing Open House Closes Today.

Tell City Hall: Rose Quarter Freeway Is #NotAnImprovement

JOIN THE NO MORE FREEWAYS CAMPAIGN the morning of TUESDAY, JANUARY 16 as we serve coffee and donuts on the Flint Avenue Bridge to protest this unnecessary, counterproductive $450 million freeway boondoggle and protect the Flint Avenue Bridge. Information on our facebook event page. SIGN OUR PETITION BY WEDNESDAY, JAN 17 AT 2:00PM for your … Continue reading Tell City Hall: Rose Quarter Freeway Is #NotAnImprovement

City Council’s Backing Down. Can you help us stand up?

TL;DR: Wanna sign our new letter to Portland City Council asking them to prioritize congestion pricing over freeway expansion? Read the letter HERE  and add your name to our letter HERE. We wrote last week about the opportunity to support a forthcoming amendment in support of congestion pricing as a cost-effective, climate-smart, sensible policy alternative … Continue reading City Council’s Backing Down. Can you help us stand up?

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