11 reasons this was a spectacular year for Portland’s 21st century Freeway Revolt

This January marks sixteen months of the No More Freeways Coalition. Our grassroots, nonpaid, rabblerousing community- led fight to stop expanding freeways had a banner year. At the end of this email, we’re going to ask you for some money to help us launch the fight we need next year. Before that, though, here’s eleven highlights from the year:

 

 

1:  We made a helluva video.

Image Caption: Video showing expansion of freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School

 

Thanks to our pals at Cupola Media for their assistance. Our video has received over 15,000 views on all platforms since we debuted it in August.

2: We held a rally to save the Flint Avenue Bridge

Photo Caption: People in the neighborhood stopping to eat donuts on the Flint Avenue Bridge

This January, we collected over one hundred signatures by holding a “Breakfast on the Bridge” style event on the Flint Avenue Bridge next to Harriet Tubman Middle School. We spoke to many folks who had no idea that ODOT was planning on removing the Flint Avenue Bridge as part of the freeway expansion. Our rally got press coverage on KATUKGWKPTVKOIN the Mark Mason Show on KEXXRAY.fmKXL, and BikePortland.org.

We’re hoping to do another iteration of this event in February (hopefully with the same sunny skies). Stay tuned!

3: Decongestion Pricing moves forward

We closely followed ODOT’s “Value Pricing Committee” and submitted testimony that hundreds of you co-signed. Decongestion pricing is the only public policy ever proven to eliminate traffic congestion, and it’s a crucial tool for policymakers working to build a prosperous Portland metro region in which the majority of families don’t need an automobile for every single trip to work, to school, to shop. Our letters to the Oregon Transportation Commission and the City of Portland stated that revenue from pricing must be used to fund transit improvements over freeway expansion, as well as a list of other ways to ensure that road pricing is implemented equitably. In July, Willamette Week published our letter explaining how decongestion pricing can work in concert with equity goals.

4: Newspaper headlines continue to suggest we’re on to something

 

Photo Caption: Graph by the Oregonian detailing Oregon's current and future carbon emissions through 2050.

“Oregon greenhouse emissions are rising again. The state is not on track to meet its emissions-reduction goals and won’t get there under current policies…The main culprit is transportation emissions, primarily from trucks and passenger vehicles. This sector is the largest source of emissions in Oregon, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total. For policymakers, it is the toughest to regulate as it involves emissions from millions of drivers.”  – With emissions on the rise, Oregon falls well short of greenhouse gas reduction goalsThe Oregonian

Willamette Week also covered the impacts that the freeway expansion are expected to have on the air quality at Harriet Tubman Middle School, and The Portland Mercury wrote a story about how ODOT’s own consultants admit that this project will have a negligible impact on traffic congestion.

5: Clean sweep on election night

Caption: photo of a ballot at a local libraryWe sent a candidate questionnaire this past April, and found out that five of the seven candidates running for Portland’s two City Council seats opposed the Rose Quarter Freeway. Jo Ann Hardesty is officially the first City Councilor elected on record opposing this project. There were numerous other victories by candidates supporting smarter, multimodal transportation investments across the Portland Metro region and the state. Meanwhile, the legislature’s biggest champion of the Westside Bypass project and loudest opponent of decongestion pricing each lost this November.

6: The catchiest public testimony you’ve ever heard

Image shows Paul Rippey testifying with his guitar at Portland City Council

If, somehow, you managed to avoid getting Paul Rippey’s jingle about induced demand stuck in your head last May, well, we dare you to watch again. Great to see Rippey’s song get coverage in BikePortland and The Oregonianand to watch Commissioner Eudaly take a photo of his testimony from the dias.

7: We testified at Metro, JPACT, OTC, Portland City Hall, ODOT Commissions and pretty much anywhere else that has to listen to us.
Photo Caption: Aaron Brown and Sarah Iannarone testifying at a Metro Council meeting this August.
Thanks to our legion of volunteers and engaged community members who took time out of their day (and often missed work!) to show up and speak into a microphone about why ODOT’s proposed freeway expansions across the region are bad for congestion, bad for climate, and bad for public health. We testified at virtually every public hearing remotely related to freeway expansion and decongestion pricing over the past year, and will continue to do so in 2019. A special thanks to PPS Board Member Paul Anthony, who testified to Portland City Council about the impact this project would have on Harriet Tubman Middle School (photo below by BikePortland).
Photo Caption: Image of PPS Board Member Paul Anthony speaking at Portland City Council hearing, with the quote "So the district and its board is risking the education of thousands of Portland's children, the hopes and dreams of my own personal community and spending $12 million of public money, all on a resource this project is putting in grave risk."
8: We hosted a Pedalpalooza ride!
Thanks to all who attended our Portland Freeway Revolt ride, and thanks to Portland State University professors Aaron Golub and Sy Adler for the history lecture! We had over sixty riders join us as we visited Piccolo Park, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and Harriet Tubman Middle School to talk about Portland’s history of fighting freeways.
9: Our “Candid” look at why TriMet needs transportation governance reform

Image shows a light rail moving through the N Albina train station“Any transportation investment that doesn’t start with the explicit intention to chip away at automobile use as the primary method to access jobs, education, and shopping has significant consequences for a planet with literal melting ice caps, a region with worsening congestion, and a city ostensibly committed to equity. Perpetuating the continued necessity of automobile ownership is especially unhelpful to the growing number of people in our region who are unable to own or operate a car due to age, (dis)ability, citizenship, or cost. With our changing (and aging) demographics, the number of Oregonians in these categories will only increase (to say nothing about waning consumer preference or the rise of autonomous vehicles).”

BikePortland.org was generous enough to publish our twopart series examining why TriMet’s executives and top brass supported freeway expansions which are directly antithetical to their mission of providing excellent transit service throughout the region.

10: We’ve geared up to submit public comment on ODOT’s Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion 

Photo Caption: A bunch of bus riders on the 44.This spring, we partnered with Audubon Society of Portland and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon to send a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We asked ODOT to explain why they chose to pursue a truncated “Environmental Assessment” (EA) for the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion instead of a more thorough “Environmental Impact Statement.”

This November, we asked for an extension of the public comment period to make sure community groups have enough time to review all of ODOT’s information about the freeway expansion proposal and provide meaningful community response. We still haven’t heard anything, which is pretty discouraging. But even if ODOT refuses to give the community more than roughly eighteen business days to review hundreds of pages of materials and provide testimony, we’ll be ready.

11: Y’all showed up. 

This whole campaign is supported through an enormous web of volunteers and donors. We’ve got over 1000 signatures in support of our positions for decongestion pricing and eliminating freeway expansion over the past year, and had great turnout at numerous events we hosted throughout the year. We’re eternally grateful for your support – get ready to turn up for the public comment period this spring. ❤

Where we’re going in 2019

1) Public Comment – In the next few weeks, ODOT will officially open the public comment period for their Environmental Assessment on the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion project. We’ll be politely reminding you to please submit testimony and get on the record with your concerns about the air quality, congestion, and carbon-related impacts of this project, and also asking you to bug your friends to get them on the record as well. You can help your friends sign up for our mailing list HERE.2) 2020 Transportation Bond – Over the next twelve months, Metro Councilors will be debating the finer policy details of what is expected to be a large, transformative transportation bond for the entire Portland region on the ballot in 2020. We’ll be working closely with newly elected Metro Councilors (and new Metro President Lynn Peterson) to encourage Metro to invest as much as possible into transit and avoiding wasting money on ODOT’s proposed freeway expansions.

We Need Money.

We’ve raised over $8,500 from community members to help us prepare for our freeway revolt shenanigans in 2019. We need another $2,000 to ensure we’ve got enough to pay for all of the anti-freeway buttons and stickers, social media ads, and legal fees necessary to mount a serious challenge in the Environmental Assessment. If you have the means to support us and would like a button mailed to you, please donate?

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