Here’s the thing about fighting the Oregon Department of Transportation: we’re an army of Davids against a massive Goliath.ODOT is a massive state agency that consistently pays literal millions of dollars to consultants and traffic engineers to find ways to hide from the public that they want to spend billions of dollars on roads that’ll give kids more asthma, give our communities more congestion, and give our climate more chaos.
- ODOT attempts to charge us exorbitant fees for public records requests. ODOT doesn’t even fully disclose everything they should on the few public records requests they do provide, which earned ODOT a visit to court to be reprimanded by a judge.
- ODOT spends God knows how much sending shiny but factually inaccurate (and embarrassingly typo-ridden) mailers to thousands of people.
- When faced with criticism for lack of community engagement, ODOT refuses to alter the plans for the project but instead redesigns the logos of the proposed freeway expansion to better appropriate the neighborhood that ODOT intends to fill with air pollution.
- ODOT hires air quality experts to study their proposed freeway expansion without giving them any of the data that would allow them to actually study the hazardous air.
- ODOT refuses to share the most basic details of their highway projects with the public, treating facts like “how wide is the proposed freeway” as some sort of state secret.
- ODOT hid from the public – and from Portland Public Schools! – their plan to widen the freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School.
- The agency has repeatedly lied about the cost of their freeway expansion and hasn’t built a freeway that didn’t go ridiculously over budget in the past 20 years – check out Rep Khanh Pham’s editorial in the Oregonian about the cost overruns on the Interstate Bridge Replacement.
Yet the thing is, despite their political power and might – our scrappy little campaign is winning. Thanks to the valiant effort of countless Oregonians, our held-together-by-scotch-tape-and-bubble-gum campaign has spent the last five years consistently, effectively shooting spitballs, catching their every sleight-of-hand buried in 400 pages of technical documents, filing public records requests, filling board rooms and zoom calls with passionate and morally-correct testimony, coordinating with nonprofits and local elected leaders to demand restorative justice for Albina shouldn’t come with strings – or auxiliary lanes – attached.With countless hours of all-volunteer labor over the last five years holding the agency accountable, ODOT is against the ropes, publicly claiming they’ll start construction on the Rose Quarter next year despite the numerous lawsuits, massive cost-overruns and lack of coherent funding sources, and community organizations expressing opposition that stand in their way. While we’re scrappy, not everything is donated – we spend money on fliers, on social media ads, on buttons and stickers on events, on this e-mail service, on public records requests, on legal assistance, and yes, on buttons.
What can you give to help us slay this Goliath?
Every dollar you give unlocks so much more volunteer hustle. Donating to No More Freeways is an enormously cost-effective investment in halting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, in stopping the increase of air pollution in our neighborhoods, in a fiscally-responsible state agency that invests in street safety and transit instead of traffic congestion and air pollution. We have a litigious year ahead, and candidly, we’ve got a lot of money to raise in the next few weeks to make sure we can hold ODOT accountable for this miserable Environmental Assessment. Please consider throwing a few bucks to the NMF legal fund as part of your end-of-year giving.Whether you have a large check, a medium check, or a small check to write, we’ll happily mail you a thank you card and a button and/or sticker for your support.