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.
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.
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 KATU, KGW, KPTV, KOIN the Mark Mason Show on KEX, XRAY.fm, KXL, and BikePortland.org.
We’re hoping to do another iteration of this event in February (hopefully with the same sunny skies). Stay tuned!
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.
“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 goals, The 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.
We 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.
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 Oregonian, and to watch Commissioner Eudaly take a photo of his testimony from the dias.
“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 two–part 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
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.
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. <3