In addition to our heckling on the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion (more news to share soon) and the Interstate Bridge Replacement (get ready for action alerts to the legislature!), No More Freeways has also been tracking the I-205 Freeway Expansion in Clackamas County.
While construction is underway for the replacement of the Abernethy Bridge in Oregon City, deemed the “first phase” of the I-205 expansion, this week ODOT concludes a public comment period for the “second phase” of the project which includes multiple miles of freeway lane expansion on I-205.
This 14 mile freeway expansion (a seven-mile expansion of a new lane in each direction) has a price tag of $515 million, in addition to the $544 million price tag for the Abernethy Bridge. If this proposal is completed, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s calculator suggests this 205 expansion will add between 72 and 109 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) a year. Under today’s conditions, the annual emissions from this are the same as ~9,800 passenger cars and light trucks or ~5 million gallons of gas, and represents by 2050 as much as 1.2 million metric tons of carbon.
Obviously, this is directly in conflict with Oregon’s aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions, prioritizing investments in safer streets, or ensuring ODOT has the resources to invest in basic seismic retrofits for the 700 bridges across the state that need repair.
A lot of our gripes with the I-205 expansion are going to sound pretty familiar to anyone who has been involved with No More Freeways the last few years. ODOT didn’t conduct an Environmental Impact Statement, merely an Environmental Assessment, absurd for the size of this megaproject. ODOT didn’t study whether the tolling that they are proposing to use to fund this project will reduce traffic to the point that the additional lanes aren’t needed. The legal somersaults and fingers-on-the-scale to justify patently absurd numbers about cost benefit analysis and traffic projections would be laughable if the consequences we’re so dire. The state has *so* many other pressing needs for investment in our transportation system – traffic fatalities are skyrocketing, the state has over 700 seismically vulnerable bridges, and ODOT has a truly abysmal record with massive cost overruns.
We need you to submit testimony. NOW.
But every voice that goes on the record in opposition to ODOT continuing to wreck our state’s budget and our children’s future with massively bloated freeway expansions gives us that much more support in the legislative deliberations and the courtrooms that’ll ultimately decide whether this expansion moves forward. Testimony is due by Friday, April 21 at 4pm.
Look, you can write as much or as little as you want. But if you want some suggestions, in your testimony, please include:
- A demand that ODOT conduct an Environmental Impact Statement that studies congestion pricing before freeway expansion.
- Include your personal story as to why you oppose this freeway expansion – list your climate concerns, worries about air pollution, frustrations with ODOT not acknowledging induced demand, annoyance that ODOT continues to ignore that freeway expansion doesn’t actually address congestion, desire to see investments in transit and biking and walking instead of freeways….
- If you live near this project or drive/commute through the area frequently, include that as well! Please forward this ask on to anyone who lives in Clackamas County and agrees that ODOT should be investing in alternatives to road widening.
No More Freeways submitted our own technical, legal testimony that outlines twenty pages of ways in which ODOT’s shoddy I-205 environmental assessment deserves greater scrutiny. (We’ve been tracking the project for a while, and their adherence to basic NEPA law is somehow more glaring than their incompetence and negligence on the Rose Quarter). But we need your voice to back us up that Oregon is full of community members committed to stopping the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.