Exciting News: I-205 Expansion is DEAD, Rose Quarter not lookin’ too hot either.

“No More Freeways is delighted to learn that the Oregon Department of Transportation proposes indefinitely postponing expansion of Interstate 205 even as the agency acknowledges they simply do not have a path forward to fund the now $1.9 billion Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion. 

These are both massive victories for any Oregonian who enjoys clean air, safer streets, a hospitable planet, and fiscal responsibility from their state government. Now more than ever, No More Freeways continues to insist that ODOT conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion that studies alternatives to expensive freeway expansion that reduce congestion while bringing clean air and justice to the Albina neighborhood.”

– Chris Smith, cofounder, No More Freeways

Background information:

  • No More Freeways believes the most appropriate path forward is a full Environmental Impact Statement for the entire Urban Mobility Strategy, rather than the divide and conquer approach currently being used to minimize the impacts of each project and ignore their cumulative effects.
  • ODOT’s proposed I-205 expansion was listed as one of the worst transportation projects in the country in USPIRG’s “Highway Boondoggles” report in 2022. The Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion was listed in an earlier report published in 2020.
  • NMF’s community members submitted over 300 comments in opposition to the I-205 Expansion during the public comment period last spring, including technical comments pointing out the explicit violation of federal environmental protection law. NMF has also submitted over 3000 comments on the proposed Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion throughout two public comment periods, and has filed two lawsuits challenging the proposed freeway expansion along with co-litigants Neighbors for Clean Air and the Eliot Neighborhood Association. 
  • This higher pricetag also don’t include the additional $120 million that the state legislature allocated in 2021 to Portland Public Schools for the proposed relocation of Harriet Tubman Middle School; the proposed expansion is literally in the background of the middle school campus. ODOT repeatedly hid from the public renderings that showed the exact plans to move the freeway closer to the school, and deliberately obscured from the public the adverse additional air pollution this freeway would bring to what is already considered the school with the worst air quality in the state. As of 2019, approximately 68% of Tubman’s students identify as nonwhite.
  • In 2017 ODOT claimed that the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion would cost $450m in 2017. The price tag is now as high as $1.9b, over four times the original cost. The agency blames inflation and design changes, although No More Freeways believes the true costs of the project lie with the oversized additional road capacity and the inherent exorbitant costs to cover such a wide freeway.
  • ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office will be presenting their financing options to the Oregon Transportation Commission, the entity which oversees ODOT and meets virtually on Wednesday June 28. This report was requested by Governor Tina Kotek as part of the tolling moratorium her office introduced this May.
  • The legislature made little progress towards addressing the numerous problems with our transportation system – no meaningful investments or policy changes to address the skyrocketing traffic fatalities, 700 seismically vulnerable bridges, massive backlogged maintenance needs, clean air or transit unreliability faced by Oregonians in every community in the state. Abandoning these freeway expansions allows the state government to instead pursuing funding for alternative transportation investments, and No More Freeways strongly encourages legislators to act on this opportunity and make meaningful holistic investments in the upcoming 2025 legislative session. 

One thought on “Exciting News: I-205 Expansion is DEAD, Rose Quarter not lookin’ too hot either.

Leave a Reply