Holy Smokes, We Won Round One!

This month marks the second birthday of our campaign to stop the $500 Million Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, and we are excited to share with you some pretty good news:
Victory goes to the good guys for Round One.

Image shows screenshot of recent Willamette Week article.According to a Willamette Week article published Tuesdaythe Oregon Department of Transportation is “prepared to conduct a full-blown environmental impact study for the project,” instead of the Environmental Assessment the agency produced this past February.

Holy smokes, this is massive.

We are delighted to learn that the Oregon Department of Transportation has conceded that their freeway expansion as proposed did not meet the standards expected by thousands of local community members and civic institutions.

First things first: Thank You.

button says "2000+ comment submitted to ODOT!"We’re *so* grateful for the 2000+ public comments that everyday Portlanders sent in to oppose this $500 million Freeway Expansion. You can read the thousands of comments on ODOT’s Project website (they published them after we threatened to FOIA the agency for the comments), where 90% of what they received was in opposition to the project. You can read our blog archives to see all the news coverage where opposition “dominated” ODOT’s March public hearing, and you can also see the highlights sent in by our community partners on the NMF Public Comment Page.

We also thank Portland Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, Portland Public Schools, Metro, and the Albina Vision Trust in particular for their leadership in demanding ODOT conduct a more rigorous study of the impacts this freeway expansion will have on the air we breathe, the traffic we sit in, and the rising oceans on our warming planet. These entities each wrote thoughtful, nuanced critiques of the project that ODOT had proposed and demanded that the agency address numerous critical concerns that the community raised regarding the impacts to traffic, carbon emissions, air pollution and environmental justice. This is leadership, and we are so grateful.

Photo shows community members testifying in opposition to ODOT's Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion at their public hearing last March. What’s Next: Given the considerable role our grassroots initiative played in ensuring the local community was properly informed about this project, we expect and look forward to ODOT working with No More Freeways as a crucial community stakeholder in this project as they establish the parameters of this Environmental Impact Statement. We intend to make recommendations of how ODOT and PBOT can fully comply with the letter and intent of the National Environmental Policy Act and use the EIS process to more fully and fairly assess alternatives to freeway expansion that (unlike ODOT’s current proposal) will actually address carbon emissions, air pollution, traffic congestion, and provide restorative justice to the Albina community.

Stay tuned. We’re just getting started. But holy smokes, we won the first round of our freeway fight.

It’s Been a Hot Anti-Freeway Summer

Since we haven’t sent out an update in a hot minute, we figured that, in addition to our exciting news about the EIS, we’d also provide a couple snippets as to what No More Freeways has been up to this summer. Buckle Up!

📻 NMF Visits OPB 🎙️

image shows Aaron Brown at OPB's studios

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s signature program, Think Out Loud, has been running a series of interviews reflecting perspectives on I-5. NMF’s Aaron Brown was invited on last month, and used his 15 minutes of fame to eviscerate ODOT’s boondoggle, speak about the moral imperative to divest from fossil fuel infrastructure like freeways, and explain No More Freeways’ support for the intentions of the Albina Vision Trust. If you haven’t heard it, it’s the best 15-minute run down of our campaign we’ve produced to date. Thanks to OPB for the invite!

This month, OPB’s Think Out Loud hosted Harriet Tubman Eighth Grader Malina Yuen and PPS Board Member Scott Bailey to discuss their thoughts about ODOT’s Freeway Expansion and the possible impact to Tubman Middle School. You can listen to their segment here: A few weeks previous, OPB brought on Michael Alexander to discuss the Albina Vision.

Sunrise Movement take to Metro’s #getmoving2020 task force

No More Freeways has been working with the Portland Chapter of the Sunrise Movement and students from Harriet Tubman Middle School to testify at Metro’s Transportation Task Force. The regional government has convened an advisory committee to make recommendations for the 2020 Transportation Package, and youth climate advocates have been showing up to demand that the package doesn’t include freeway expansions or additional road capacity. We’ve also been showing up for our pals with OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, who this summer launched their #UpWithRiders campaign (check out their video!)

You can read coverage of Sunrise youth’s testimony in BikePortland.org, and watch the Tubman students’ testimony on Youtube. We’ll be continuing to track the T2020 conversation; we’ve been livetweeting the #getmoving2020 hearings.

Image shows light display, projecting "Climate Leaders Don't Widen Freeways" onto ODOT's downtown Portland Headquarters

NMF Letter to OTC:
Future generations depend on a climate-smart hire for next ODOT director

“There’s no getting around this crucial fact – the decision of who to hire for the next head of ODOT is arguably the most carbon-consequential decision that the OTC will make in this young century.”

ODOT is currently in the final stages of hiring the next director of the agency (Willamette Week wrote about this yesterday). This process is being undertaken by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC), who oversees ODOT (it’s the entity that we testified in front of this past spring). We submitted a letter last Mayarticulating the urgency that the next director of ODOT be ready to steer the statewide agency towards increased collaboration with municipal partners, prioritizing decarbonization initiatives by promoting infrastructure investments to reduce Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT), and stopping build all these damn freeways.

You can read our full letter here.

National Publication calls ODOT’s Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion
“Highway Boondoggle” 

Image shows front cover of OSPIRG's "Highway Boondoggles 5" report.

US PIRG’s “Highway Boondoggles 5” lists the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion as one of the top nine terrible freeway expansions in the country. Yikes!
This report is especially helpful in articulating what we’ve been saying for years – there is a freeway industrial complex running amok in our state and federal governments. These projects are directly antithetical to any meaningful attempts at carbon reduction, improved air quality, or traffic congestion improvement, but there are just too many contractors and construction firms eager for untold billions of dollars of infrastructure investment, and too many politicians willing to go along for the ride.

You can read their full report here, and local coverage of their report in the Portland Mercury and the Oregonian.

Sunrise Movement Hosts Sit-in at Mayor Wheeler’s Office, Demanding End to Freeway Expansion

Image shows Sunrise Movement PDX Youth holding signs in a sit-in at Mayor Wheeler's office, demanding "No Freeway Expansions"
Image shows large demonstration in park outside of City Hall in support of Sunrise PDX and Extinction Rebellion
This June, while numerous environmental organizations staged a protest with hundreds of Portlanders outside City Hall, members of Sunrise Movement PDX held a sit in at Mayor Wheeler’s office. The youth climate advocates demanded that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a climate emergency, stop the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, and Stop the Zenith Oil Terminal Expansion. We are thrilled to see youth climate advocates make the connection between ODOT’s freeway expansions and the likelihood of Oregon hitting our carbon targets, and will continue to support Sunrise PDX in their efforts in the months ahead. (Meanwhile, months later, Mayor Wheeler’s office still hasn’t responded to their request for a meeting).
The kids are alright.


In less than nine months, Portland voters will have the chance to vote in the May 2020 primary for two city councilors, the mayoralship, as well as numerous other seats at Metro and the Oregon Legislature. We’ll send out a questionnaire next spring to everyone who runs for local office – it’s entirely possible that a majority of Portland’s five-person city council could be opposed to the project in 2021.
Image shows Sarah Iannarone speaking at her campaign kickoff.
We’re staunchly avoiding endorsements, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that Sarah Iannarone, who has been on our side for years, has thrown her hat in the race for Portland’s Mayor. Credit where it’s due – she’s testified multiple times against the project, submitted detailed public comment to the EA, and even coined the #NOI5RQX hashtag at that fateful March hearing.We look forward to hearing from all candidates running for local office about their views on ODOT’s boondoggle and how they’ll work with community groups to stop this project as elected officials. We hope to uplift the voices of any candidate that agrees that climate leaders shouldn’t widen freeways. Are you running for office and want to talk to No More Freeways? Please get in touch!

Portland Forward hosts NMF, 350PDX, OPAL to talk transportation

Image shows NMF's Aaron Brown speaking at the Portland Forward Transportation Event this summer. Thanks to Portland Forward for hosting us! We enjoyed hearing from Jesse Maran and Orlando Lopez to talk about Metro’s 2020 Transportation Package, how we can decarbonize our transportation system, and all the ways we’ve been organizing against the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion.

Legislative Session Wrap Up

Image shows students from Harriet Tubman Middle School protesting diesel engines on the Flint Avenue bridge near the Rose Quarter Freeway.
No More Freeways helped garner support for a handful of transportation justice related initiatives down in Salem during the end of the legislative session this summer! We were proud to wrangle support for:
  • HB 2007, which created the second strongest diesel engine regulations in the country (students from Harriet Tubman Middle School, above, testified in support of this in March);
  • HB 2015, which allowed all Oregonians regardless of citizenship status to obtain drivers’ licenses;
  • HB 2001, a first-of-its-kind legislation which legalized missing middle housing to create necessary housing density.
  • ..and we OPPOSED HB 3023-A, which would have given Uber and Lyft sweetheart deals to avoid local regulation on TNCs.
Big thanks and gratitude to our legislative partners including Oregon Environmental Council, Neighbors for Clean Air, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon, Causa Oregon, Sightline Institute, and 1000 Friends of Oregon for getting these important bills passed. We’ll be keeping an eye on freeway-related legislation during the 2020 short session, and we’ll be sure to let you know when we need folks to travel to Salem next January and come talk to legislators about ODOT’s boondoggles.
Donate to NMF and We’ll Mail You Stickers For your Favorite Bus Stop or Bike Rack
Look at all the progress we’ve made this summer! All of this is due to the elbow grease of hundreds of committed community members fighting for environmental justice, cleaner air, a viable climate for future generations, and healthier transportation options in the neighborhood. If that doesn’t inspire you to donate a couple bucks so we can keep up with our spitball shootin’, I know what will: our wonderful new stickers. Donate and we’ll mail you a bunch to stick on bike racks, bus stops, and outside the offices of any elected official still thinking about freeway expansion in 2019.

We’re blessed and oh-so-grateful for your help. Together, we can stop this dumb freeway.

2 thoughts on “Holy Smokes, We Won Round One!

  1. The I-5 corridor is a pustulant growth in the heart-of Portland that should be removed before it causes more damage.

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