Overwhelming turnout for the good guys at ODOT hearing

Top 10 highlights from Tuesday’s Hearing

  1. photo shows crowd at public hearingNumerous students from Harriet Tubman Middle School testifying in opposition to ODOT’s plans for freeway expansion, testifying at a public hearing for the first time
  2. Paul Rippey providing a reprise of his “Induced Demand” jingle, and getting the crowd to sing along
  3. Jillian Detweiler of the Street Trust testified, stating their constructive opposition to the project as it currently is due to climate implications, desire to see the Albina Vision implemented, and inadequate bike improvements
  4. Rithy Khut from the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, stating the BAC would be either recommending a “No Build” alternative or asking for the agency to move forward with an Environmental Impact Statement
  5. Grant Sawyer, veteran of Portland’s freeway fights in the seventies who helped kill the Mt Hood Freeway, reminding us all about the political leadership back in the day
  6. RJ Sheperd using his testimony to ask for a moment of silence for the sixteen year old hit and nearly killed by an automobile while crossing the ODOT-owned arterial, 82nd Avenue.
  7. Bryan Chu, Harriet Tubman Middle School teacher, passionately making the case for his students, and noting that ODOT was failing a generation of young students of color
  8. Eliot Neighborhood Association Member Allan Rudwick asking “y’all are calling this an Environmental Justice project? I mean, c’mon” with the whole room laughing in tacit acknowledgement
  9. Tori Cole, with Neighbors for Clean Air, who testified in opposition specifically noting how children are particularly susceptible to air pollution from automobiles
  10. The numerous explicit references to this project’s climate impacts, and significance of investment in fossil fuel infrastructure when 40% of our state’s carbon emissions come from transportation(and one final bonus):
  11. All y’all showed up. Depending on the news source you trust, somewhere between 100-200 people were at the hearing on Tuesday, and the overwhelming majority of people were in opposition to this project. From our graphic designers to our neighborhood parents, our engaged teachers to our traffic planners, our sign-wavers and our climate advocates – we couldn’t have done it without you.

We ain’t done yet, but this Tuesday’s hearing felt like an important moment for our campaign. We’re going to need your help through the final two weeks, but let’s just acknowledge: we took over that meeting. Sincere gratitude to you all – what an excellent accomplishment representing all that we’ve worked on for over 18 months of organizing.

📰 Media Coverage 📰

(Pretty cool how all of the headlines are accurately calling this a freeway expansion and not an “improvement project”)

If we have any backbone,” said Katy Wolf, chair of the Boise Neighborhood Association, “we should be telling ODOT to be putting a hard pause on [the project] while we wait for congestion pricing to take effect.”

Opponents Dominate Hearing On Portland Rose Quarter I-5 Expansion Project – Oregon Public Broadcasting

Bryan Chu, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Tubman Middle School, said it’s unclear if the school would be shuttered during construction or what the project might mean for the majority students of color who attend it. Chu said he can only assume there is no plan for Tubman. “We have always been made to pay the price for Portland’s progress,” he said, before adding, “Black lives matter, black students matter, black schools matter, black lung matters.

Rose Quarter freeway critics dominate meeting, then Chloe Eudaly throws curveball – The Oregonian

“Student Sadie Herout said, “It’s not just going to be affecting me, it’s going to be affecting a lot of people.” Manson and Herout – students at Harriet Tubman Middle School – are now concerned about an ODOT project so close by. “The air quality is very bad at our school. To add more trucks and automobiles would increase toxic particulates in the air,” said Herout.”

Portlanders voice opinions on I-5 Rose Quarter expansion project – KPTV

“At least a hundred concerned citizens gathered at the Oregon Convention Center on Tuesday evening to give the Oregon Department of Transportation their opinions on expanding Interstate five through the Rose Quarter.

Most did not like the idea.

ODOT gets earful from community over I-5 downtown expansion plans – KGW

“Freeway expansion is climate denialism. Forty percent of Oregon’s carbon emission comes from transportation, and spending half a billion dollars on new freeway when we have 11 years to solve climate change is intergenerational theft,” Aaron Brown with No More Freeways Coalition said.”

ODOT holds meeting to discuss I-5 expansion project, community members rally against – KPTV

“Iannarone also lamented how it seems we, as Portlanders, have “Lost our way” when it comes to leadership on transportation. Then, like many other people throughout the night, she appealed directly to Commissioner Eudaly. “I know that you have courage. I know you have vision. We will have your back if you stand with us on this.” “And to ODOT,” Iannarone concluded, “It’s just not going to happen. We’ll lie down on that highway before you ever build this.””

ODOT’s I-5 widening project weathers severe opposition at first public hearing – BikePortland.org

“That opposition had a big presence at Tuesday’s three-hour meeting—the only hearing that will be held during ODOT’s public comment period, which ends April 1. People largely framed their opposition through a moral lens, insisting that investing in freeway expansion could contribute to global warming and negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood…

The choice, from Brown’s view, is clear—on both a logistical and moral level. “We’re out of time,” he said. “I understand there are political realities; there are also physical realities. There is only so much carbon we can put into our atmosphere.

Rose Quarter I-5 Expansion is a Moral Issue for Opponents – Portland Mercury

(…and while we’re at it, three other great links from this week!)

“A wider freeway will induce more traffic and pollution (and ironically, worsen traffic congestion), runs directly counter to the city and state’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, does nothing to improve safety, especially for those walking or biking, and disproportionately benefits higher income commuters from outside the city, while imposing social and environmental costs primarily on lower income households and people of color,” Cortright wrote on his City Observatory blog.

screenshot of twitter, where #NOI5RQX was trending on TuesdayPortland economist calls Rose Quarter freeway project ‘tragic error’The Oregonian

“Hardesty said she opposes the plan to spend around $500 million improving the area where Interstate 5 and Interstate 84 merge in the Rose Quarter. She believes the money would be better spent on alternative transportation projects, including bike and pedestrian paths.”

Hardesty charts ambitious course: ‘I’ve been very busy’ – Portland Tribune
“Myself and other parents from Tubman–especially the other members’ parents of the PTSA–we definitely think it’s a bad idea for them to expand a freeway, pretty much behind or close to the school Tubman. I definitely believe that the air quality wouldn’t be good for our kids as we’re already experiencing bad air there,” Tadimika Edwards, president of the Tubman Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association

Not On Board: Groups align against I-5 expansion – Portland Observer

The hashtag for our event (thanks, Sarah Iannarone, for coining it!) trended on twitter during the public hearing.

Data Delivered

picture is a screenshot of an excel chart with numbers

26 days after ODOT released their incomplete version of the Environmental Assessment, and after sustained pressure from our organization, the agency finally released the numerous technical charts and data sets that should have been included in the EA in the first place. Despite the 100 pages of flowery images and greened-up renderings, the EA released in February was missing the actual quantitative data that demonstrates ODOT’s ability to accurately assess the impact this project would have on traffic congestion, carbon emissions or air pollution.

Our coalition is eagerly looking through the data sets and determining if we have all of the data necessary to complete our independent analysis, and will conduct what analysis we can in the 18 days remaining in the Public Comment period. Stay tuned. 

Missing the hearing? Don’t fret – submit public comment and help spread the word:

Image shows the NMF logo and text asking folks to submit comment to the public testimony
Our favorite comment submitted this week comes from Microcosm Publishing, a small business in the Eliot Neighborhood near the Freeway Expansion:I am a retail business owner in the Eliot neighborhood with an on-site staff of 12, at least eight of whom at any given time commute daily by bicycle, transit, and walking across the area affected by the proposed I-5 expansion project. Of these, several also suffer from severe asthma. Part of our business is open to the public, and the majority of our customers arrive without cars. We all suffer the deleterious effects of proximity to I-5.The impact of the proposed Rose Quarter project, including both the construction and the existence of the finished project will result in decreased transportation options and an increase in traffic as well as air and noise pollution that is all already well above tolerable levels. 

Want to submit your own comment? We need you on the record!
Check out our website where we’ve got tips on what to say to have the most impact.

We spent about $300 making Tuesday happen.

Can you help us cover our expenses?photo caption asks for donations to campaign

Our community driven campaign is a labor of love, and every dollar you can spare is a dollar we can spend turning out public comment during these final two weeks. Thanks to all of you who have given already, and thanks to those of you who have given your time, energy and support. Tuesday’s event was possible because of people like yourself, and we’re hoping to pull a few more tricks from our sleeve in these final few weeks. Donations are tax deductible!

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