We’re staying busy over here at No More Freeways. Just a few weeks after our first lawsuit with Neighbors for Clean Air and the Eliot Neighborhood Association, No More Freeways filed our second lawsuit challenging ODOT’s $800 million freeway expansion in the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School. You can read the full complaint here.
That’s two lawsuits filed in one month for our scrappy, all-volunteer, grassroots campaign.
#TubmanRally a big success
Thanks to all who came out to our #TubmanRally this month! We had roughly 200 people at the event, and some absolutely fantastic speakers. We wrote over 350 postcards to Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Governor Kate Brown, Speaker Tina Kotek, and Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty asking them to keep fighting ODOT and holding the agency accountable for the air pollution, carbon emissions and traffic congestion that this project would mean to our community, the Tubman campus, and the planet as a whole.
Teenage Climate Justice Leaders launch biweekly ODOT strikE
The teen caucus of Sunrise PDX held their first sit-in outside ODOT’s headquarters this last week. They’ll be revisiting ODOT’s headquarters every other week protesting the agency’s inaction on transportation and climate justice. Go follow the Youth vs ODOT instagram account to see more photos from their event, to read their four demands of ODOT (including the appointment of a Youth Climate Justice representative on the OTC) and to learn more about their next event.
OPB story on freeway in Tubman’s backyard
For years, community members and staff with Portland Public Schools have been demanding more information about the impacts of the proposed freeway expansion on the Harriet Tubman Middle School campus. ODOT has been reluctant to share any information with any of us; fortunately, through a series of public records requests, we got copies of documents ODOT produced as early as 2018 showing exactly how much land in the backyard of Tubman Middle School they intend to take for this freeway.
OPB did a story highlighting these findings, and getting quotes from PPS Board Members and us about the importance of these maps. After years of stalling to share any information with the public, these maps getting into the hands of journalists must have started ODOT, because suddenly the agency announced this last week willing to explore expanding the freeway to the west, farther away from the school. Even if ODOT dramatically changes their plans, any widening will still increase air pollution in the backyard of Tubman Middle School, which already has some of the worst air pollution in the state.
This information only came to light because of our public records requests. This is just one month after we caught ODOT lying about the width of the proposed freeway. How many other dirty secrets about this project is this agency continuing to hide from the public?
Pedestrian Safety Rally on 82nd Avenue on Friday
Why does ODOT have billions for freeway expansions but can’t find the money to make basic safety investments for their orphan highways? (The agency cries poverty when challenged on this.)
This month, two people were hit by cars and killed while attempting to cross 82nd Avenue near NE Alberta. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a single traffic fatality on the Rose Quarter freeway expansion in over a decade.
Community leaders including Rep Khanh Pham, Scott Kocher, Oregon Walks, and others are hosting a rally on 82nd Avenue this Friday, May 7th at 4pm to demand ODOT be held accountable to prioritizing safety investments here and across the region.
NMF to present on panel with national leaders May 18
No More Freeways was recently flattered to receive an invitation to speak on a panel hosted by Move Minneapolis discussing the future of the urban interstate. Check out this lineup!
Keith Baker, Managing Director, Reconnect Rondo
Oni Blair, Executive Director, LINK Houston
Dr Karilynn Crockett, Author, Professor MIT
Dr Ben Crowther, Program Manager, Congress for New Urbanism
Ian Lockwood, PE, Toole Design
Beth Osborne, Director, Transportation for America
Dr Regan Patterson, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Aaron Brown, No More Freeways
You can register for Move Minneapolis’ 2021 Transportation Summit here.
Final note from Aaron – donate to keep us going!
Two lawsuits, two rallies (and a third we’re joining this week), breaking news about ODOT’s lack of transparency – as you can see, it’s been an awfully busy month. And honestly, this lengthy e-blast still doesn’t include numerous other things we’ve done over the last month to heckle ODOT, including testifying to multiple committees about the Columbia River Crossing 2.0, call out ODOT for hiding public comments concerned about air pollution outside Tubman Middle School, or other shenanigans involving pushing back on the legislature’s ongoing thirst for more freeways.
We’re so grateful for your continued support. While ODOT continues to churn forward with this project, our movement to challenge the freeway industrial complex has perhaps never been larger. Whether critiquing the agency on their abysmal climate outcomes, their unwillingness to prioritize funding basic traffic safety investments, or their deception about the air pollution they intend to pump into the lungs of current and future residents of the Albina neighborhood, we are spearheading an increasingly broad and diverse coalition of everyday Portlanders who are beginning to take their pitchforks to ODOT and demand accountability and transparency.
We’re all volunteers over here at NMF. This grassroots campaign is funded by a couple big donations and an awful lot of small donations. Whether you’ve got $5000, $500, $50, or $15 to chip in for a healthier, greener future, we’re eager to mail you a button and/or sticker and help us build our warchest for a busy summer of continuing to dismantle the freeway industrial complex.