We made a video. You should watch it.

What will ODOT’s Freeway Expansion do to Harriet Tubman Middle School?

For the last eleven months (!), we’ve been shouting to anyone who will listen about ODOT’s plans to expand Interstate 5 into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School. Even without ODOT’s freeway expansion, public health experts are already recommending that students at the soon-to-reopen PPS school forgo outdoor recess due to air pollution.

ODOT’s freeway widening project is literally expanding the interstate into Harriet Tubman Middle School’s backyard. To drive the point home, we used ODOT’s own schematics to illustrate how much closer ODOT intends to move the freeway to the school.

The video is available on facebooktwitter, and on VimeoPlease, please, please share this video with your colleagues, fellow parents of Harriet Tubman students, and community organizations. If you’d like for your small business, neighborhood group, PTA, or other entity to hear a presentation about our cause and/or to endorse our campaign, please get in touch.

We wish to give a hearty thanks to our pals at Cupola Media for their production of this video and support for our cause. We can’t recommend Cupola enough for any and all video/animation needs!

Weigh in on Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan
by Wednesday

In a little over two years, residents of the Portland Metro region will likely be asked to vote for a transportation package. Metro, Portland’s regional government that convenes representatives from Gresham to Forest Grove, Portland to Oregon City, is the agency responsible for shepherding this package to voters in time for the November 2020 ballot.

This transportation package represents a *massive* opportunity to move forward with transportation investments that tackle congestion, provide cleaner air, reduce our carbon emissions, address regional inequality and affordability issues.

Every dollar in that 2020 Transportation Package that goes towards freeway widening around the region is a dollar not spent on those outcomes. This week, we have a chance to tell Metro to spend our money wisely.

A few weeks ago, representatives from the No More Freeway Expansions coalition testified to the Metro Council regarding the Regional Transportation Plan (Metro News covered it!) asking the Metro Council to consider the benefits of investing our scarce taxpayer dollars in infrastructure that addresses public health, climate change, and congestion (aka, biking, walking and public transportation).

Metro’s RTP document is the blueprint that coordinates the region’s transportation investments. Metro is actively seeking feedback on this document, and every comment in support of massive investments in transit instead of freeways will help the Metro Council make the right decision over the next few years.

Can you spend 5 minutes telling Metro that freeways have no place in the 2020 Transportation Bond? Take Metro’s RTP survey HERE. The survey closes Wednesday, August 15th, so hurry up!

Other Freeway Fightin’ News

  • Thanks for all your help on our decongestion pricing letter. We received over 285 signatures from community members across the region. The future of decongestion pricing is all over the map (on one hand, regional leaders are pushing to make pricing even more comprehensive; on the other hand, Republicans are threatening a ballot initiative that’d allow the full state to vote on Portland’s local transportation decisions).
  • “The project ODOT is proposing in this neighborhood is directly antithetical to the transformative and restorative opportunity which the Albina Vision is promoting.”

    We got up early a few weeks ago to pay a visit to the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT). BikePortland covered the meeting. Most notably: ODOT has raised the upper limits of the cost of this project, and now predict the Rose Quarter Freeway Widening Project will cost as much as $500,000,000. What’s an extra $50 million amongst friends and freeway builders?

  • Willamette Week reports that 10 public schools in Portland are within a tenth of a mile of a freeway, “a distance at which children could be substantially affected by the cars and trucks that speed or crawl past.” Yikes!
  • “It’s an open question as to whether Portland’s elected officials will find the backbone to stand up for our children’s lungs (and planet they’ll inherit) in the face of this freeway pork project. It’s not an open question whether road pricing can aid in a just transition to establishing an alternative.”

    Speaking of Willamette Week, last month the newspaper published a letter to the editor we wrote regarding the potential benefits decongestion pricing can provide to low-income communities, if revenue raised is directed towards transit and not freeway expansion.

  • In numerous places, Oregon is once again on fire this summer. Thanks to our inability to shift away from a carbon-based economy over the past century, the American West will likely be on fire every summer for the rest of our lives. Numerous articles this month covered recent research about “Hothouse Earth,” suggesting that anything short of immediate and widespread paradigm shift away from a carbon-based economy could “trigger a series of accelerating climate-system feedback loops that would push the climate into a permanent hothouse state.”

    40% of Portland’s carbon emissions are coming from transportation. It’s probably time to stop expanding fossil-fuel infrastructure like freeways.

  • We were on XRAY.fm’s “XRAY in the Morning” (twice!) in the last month.
  • Many of our community partners have been working for the past couple months to bring the Portland Clean Energy Fund to the ballot. We’re proud to work closely with groups like the Audubon Society of Portland, OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon, Oregon PSR and Neighbors for Clean Air who have brought this measure to Portland’s ballot. We’re not the endorsing sort, but we encourage Portlanders interested in environmental justice to check out this ballot measure this fall.
  • Welcome to our latest endorsing organization in opposition to the freeway: The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club! The Sierra Club joins numerous public health, social justice, environmental, and neighborhood advocates in opposition to this $500 million freeway expansion. If you represent a nonprofit organization, own a small business, or have any other sort of entity that you’d like to have officially on the record in opposition to freeway boondoggles, get in touch.

Got a couple bucks?

That fantastic video at the top of this email needs to be seen by as many people as possible, and cost us a couple bucks to produce. Can you spare $20 to help us cover the social media promotion to get this video in front of as many Portlanders as possible?

Yeah, we need you to sign on for Decongestion Pricing again. (But this time it’s special.)

TLDR version: There’s a big hearing coming up with the Oregon Transportation Commission, and here’s three things you can do to help us kill that dang freeway:

1) Show up and testify at the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC’s) Decongestion Pricing Hearing on July 12 (details HERE)
2) SIGN OUR LETTER. (the letter in full is available HERE; add your name and additional comments to our letter HERE) by July 19
3) Want to send your own letter to the OTC? You can do that too, HERE, by July 20.

The Oregon Transportation Commission is Coming to Town

The No More Freeway Expansions campaign has extolled the virtues of decongestion pricing as a viable alternative to freeway expansion to the Oregon Department of Transportation (and their Value Pricing Committee) and to Portland City Council.

However, tomorrow (Thursday, July 12), you have an opportunity to speak to a group of influential and powerful lawmakers more powerful than them all: the Oregon Transportation Commission.

Without getting into the weeds, the OTC is the big, opaque oversight entity that monitors ODOT and the rest of the state’s transportation investments. It’s a Commission that rarely actively solicits public input, and is typically not directly under the public eye. The OTC is the entity ultimately responsible for crafting the official proposal for decongestion pricing that Oregon will submit to the Federal Government at the end of the year.

The OTC has heard from freight lobbyists, suburban sprawl advocates, and the freeway industrial complex – we need them to hear from you. 

Jonathan at BikePortland has an excellent summary of what’s on the line at this hearing: numerous suburban jurisdictions are eagerly looking at decongestion pricing as a way to raise revenue for freeway expansions. Using decongestion pricing to expand freeways is like using revenue from a carbon tax to build coal plants. The very point of the taxing mechanism of road pricing – using market forces to gently guide individual behavior towards an optimal levels that maximizes public benefit (in this case, eliminating gridlock and encouraging usage of transportation alternatives during peak commute times) – is substantially undermined by the proposals to direct revenue towards expansion of freeways. Freeway expansion is horrifically expensive, deleterious towards our carbon emission reduction goals on a melting planet, counterproductive towards air quality and other public health initiatives, and (most pertinent to the Oregon Transportation Commission) proven to be wholly ineffectual in cost-effectively moving Oregonians reliably and efficiently.

The meeting will be held on July 12, 4:00 (sign-ups begin at 3:00; let us know if you’d like us to sign you up!)

University Place Hotel and Conference Center
310 SW Lincoln St., Columbia Falls Ballroom
Portland, OR 97201
(accessible via Orange Line MAX; Bus lines 35, 36, 43; SW 3rd and Harrison Portland Streetcar Stop)

You can SIGN OUR LETTER in which we support a thoughtful, robust, forward-thinking decongestion pricing policy that raises $300 million a year for transit investments instead of freeway expansion.

 Image asks reader to sign our petition in support of decongestion pricing.

Thanks to all who came on our Pedalpalooza Ride!

We had a blast! Thanks to the nearly 50 people who showed up for a rainy June ride through Portland’s history of freeway revolts. A special thanks in particular to BikeLoudPDX for helping plan the event, to Dr. Aaron Golub and Dr Sy Adler for speaking about Portland’s history of freeway revolts, and to the Audubon Society for their ongoing support.

 

Image asks reader to sign our petition in support of decongestion pricing.

ICYMI: Willamette Week covers the air quality issue at Harriet Tubman
Image is a screenshot of the Willamette Week article

“Construction crews are racing to complete the rehabilitation of Harriet Tubman Middle School for its reopening this fall, despite long-standing concerns about the air quality at the site. Now a new environmental study offers damning conclusions about the health risks to students from diesel fumes, even as state officials champion a nearby highway project.” Read MORE. (OPB covered it, too)

Image encourages reader to sign our decongestion pricing letter.

Have you chimed in for Decongestion Pricing?

Monday, June 25 marks the final meeting of ODOT’s Value Pricing Committee. We sent a letter (with over 200 signatures!) to the committee last month asking for bold leadership from the advisory committee to support decongestion pricing.

Last month, ODOT revealed their research which stated implementing decongestion pricing on I-205 and I-5 would result in an 11% reduction in traffic congestion REGIONWIDE and would raise nearly $300 million in revenue annually. That’s a lot of money that could go towards transit investments!

If you haven’t already wrote to the Value Pricing Committee, we encourage you to drop them a note. Here’s some of our talking points

  • Decongestion Pricing is Great! We want to see decongestion pricing implemented as broadly and ambitiously as possible.
  • Decongestion pricing needs to be implemented for public health, climate mitigation, and congestion relief purposes. It must be installed equitably and thoughtfully.
  • Every dollar raised from decongestion pricing should be redirected into transit, biking and walking projects, not more freeway expansion. Spending money from decongestion pricing on freeway expansion is like using revenue from a carbon tax to build a coal plant or pipeline. We encourage TriMet, CTRAN, Metro and ODOT to work closely with frontline communities to determine how to allocate these resources towards investments in reliable, efficient, and effective transit, biking and walking.
  • We encourage the exploration of mitigation of congestion pricing on vulnerable communities through the exploration of rebates, funding safety improvements on nearby high crash corridors, and strict initiatives for data privacy.
Wanna testify in support of decongestion pricing and in opposition to freeway widening in person? Join us!

June 25, 2018
9 a.m. to noon
ODOT Region 1 Offices
123 NW Flanders St.
Portland, OR 97206

There will be an opportunity to engage with ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission on Decongestion Pricing on July 12 at Portland State University as well. Stay tuned for more information!

PEDALPALOOZA: COME LEARN ABOUT FREEWAY REVOLTS!

No More Freeways PDX and BikeLoudPDX are partnering for a Pedalpalooza Ride in which we discuss Portland’s illustrious history with fighting freeway expansion. Did you know about the effort to protect NW Thurman from Interstate 505? How Portland’s community advocates fought the Mt Hood Freeway to get funding for the first MAX line?  Did you know that Robert Moses’ team drew the maps for where many of Portland’s freeways would be built?

Ride with us to learn about Portland’s illustrious history of community opposition to freeway expansion!

We’ll start in Southeast Portland’s Piccolo Park (originally bulldozed to make way for the Mt Hood Freeway!) and swing through town to see the scars left in the inner city from freeway expansion.

We’ll conclude near the Rose Quarter, where ODOT keeps trying to spend half a billion dollars on freeway expansion despite the fact that it’s, you know, 2018, and that any sensible investment in our region’s transportation system considerate of public health, equity, carbon emissions or congestion relief involves more transit, biking and walking instead of lanes of freeway.

We’ll be joined by PSU Professors Sy Adler and Aaron Golub, and community advocates who have fought for livable streets for decades here in Portland. Our route will be slow, family-friendly, and relatively short, but it’s not a loop, so plan ahead.

JOIN US!
5:30, Wednesday, 6/27
Piccolo City Park, 2535 SE 28th Ave
Facebook Event

In Case You Missed It: The catchiest Public Testimony You’ve Ever Seen
Photo shows a screenshot of Paul Rippey playing his guitar and singing his song about induced demand to Portland City Council during public testimony.

North Portland resident Paul Rippey wrote a wonderful song about induced demand, freeway expansion, and the need to invest in transportation. He was kind enough to perform the song in front of Portland City Council last month, and he’s deservedly gone viral. Check out Andrew Theen’s coverage in The Oregonian about Rippey’s song to get this infectious little diddy stuck in your head. 

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER.

We’ve got a *lot* cookin’ in the fall, and we’re going to need your help. Freeway fights are long, arduous, obnoxious, but we promise you: we’re in it for the long haul. If you haven’t already, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, and invite your friends to do the same. If you’re feeling particularly generous, we could use a little financial support as we gear up for the fall.

The No More Freeway Expansions Questionnaire for Portland City Council

Happy Primary Election, Portlanders! You should have received your ballot by now. (and if you haven’t, you should call the Multnomah County Election office).

Incumbent Commissioner Nick Fish is running for reelection against Mr Philip J Wolfe and Ms. Julia DeGraw for Position 2 on Portland’s City Council. Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, David Douglas School Board Member Andrea Valderrama, Former State Representative JoAnn Hardesty, Mr. Stuart Emmons and Ms. Felicia Williams are running for Position 3, which Commissioner Dan Saltzman is vacating this year.  We sent the following eight questions to all of the candidates running for Positions 2 and 3 on Portland’s City Council in the upcoming May Primary. We’ve posted all of the responses we’ve received.

Note: We sent repeated emails to the campaigns of Philip Wolfe, Felicia Williams, Commissioner Loretta Smith, and Commissioner Nick Fish and received no response. Philip J Wolfe and Felicia Williams have spoke in opposition to the freeway in previous forums and on social media, including at this month’s Active Transportation Forum (covered extensively at BikePortland.org).  Commissioner Loretta Smith has been the loudest, most vocal proponent of the project; her website states that she “states that she “supports moving forward with the Rose Quarter project.” As a current City Council Member, Commissioner Nick Fish has expressed tentative support for the project and has been unwilling to move forward with the requests and policy proposals suggested by the No More Freeway Expansions Coalition to remove this project from the Transportation System Plan Update of the Central City Comprehensive Plan Update. 

Continue reading “The No More Freeway Expansions Questionnaire for Portland City Council”

ACTION ALERT: Tell ODOT to support Decongestion Pricing ahead of Freeway Expansion.

ACTION ALERT: SIGN OUR LETTER FOR FASTER COMMUTES, NOT FREEWAY CONGESTION

This spring, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has convened a stakeholder advisory group to review potential options for instituting value pricing, or decongestion pricing, on I-5 and I-205. Our coalition believes that decongestion pricing should be implemented and studied before any potential freeway expansion anywhere inside of the Urban Growth Boundary. Decongestion pricing helps lower carbon emissions, improves air quality, is exorbitantly cheap compared to freeway expansion, can raise revenue for transit, and actually alleviates recurring traffic congestion. All of this is untrue for ODOT’s $450 million Rose Quarter freeway expansion and other plans on I-205.

We’re thrilled to see groups like The Street Trust, Oregon Environmental Council, OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon and Verde sitting on the advisory committee write a letter specifically asking ODOT to implement decongestion pricing before freeway expansion. We’re emailing you today to ask you to also tell ODOT you believe decongestion pricing is an important policy that should be implemented to address traffic. ODOT’s currently soliciting community input on a clunky online open house, and you’re welcome to attend one of their events in person.

Otherwise, PLEASE SIGN OUR LETTER. Here’s the cliffnotes version of our letter:

  • Decongestion Pricing is Great! We want to see Option 2 implemented, in which all lanes of I-5 and I-205 are priced during peak traffic hours.
  • Decongestion pricing needs to be implemented for public health, climate mitigation, and congestion relief purposes. It must be installed equitably and thoughtfully.
  • Every dollar raised from decongestion pricing should be redirected into transit, biking and walking projects, not more freeway expansion. Spending money from decongestion pricing on freeway expansion is like using revenue from a carbon tax to build a coal plant or pipeline.
  • We encourage the exploration of mitigation of congestion pricing on vulnerable communities through the exploration of rebates, funding safety improvements on nearby high crash corridors, and initiatives for data privacy.
Please read our letter, and consider joining over 200 community members and signing on. We’ll be delivering the letter to ODOT’s Value Pricing Committee on April 30.

Podcasts, Radio, and some other good news

Thanks to the Sprocket Podcast for hosting us!

Registered to Vote?

Tuesday, April 24 was the voter registration deadline; ballots are due May 15. We’ve sent responses out to candidates to ask about their opinions on the Rose Quarter Expansion, and received some great responses. We’ll post the comments in full in the weeks ahead – in the meantime, check out Jonathan Maus’ coverage in BikePortland of the City Council Candidate Forum on Transportation, and this recent article in Oregon Business.

Spoiler Alert: Julia DeGraw, Stu Emmons, JoAnn Hardesty, Andrea Valderrama, Felicia Williams, Philip Wolfe all stated their opposition to the $450 million freeway expansion during last month’s event.

Please send money.

Image shows a historic photograph of Union Station from the early 1930s

We’ve got some snazzy new buttons. If you haven’t yet thrown us a couple bucks to support our grassroots campaign, well, can you consider doing so?

Thanks.

 

FOIA, TriMet Reform, OPAL and more!

FOIA’D.

ODOT has filed paperwork stating their intent to move forward with an “Environmental Assessment” instead of an “Environmental Impact Statement” from the federal government as part of the legal process of moving forward with their proposed $450 million freeway expansion.

We find that a bit fishy, so our partners Audubon and OPAL submitted a FOIA Request to find out why they’re avoiding meaningful public scrutiny of their proposal. At half a billion dollars, this is an enormous proposal with significant consequences to local air quality, our carbon emission reduction goals, and our public health goals.

“The justification for this nearly half billion dollar project has been a moving target since the day it was announced,” said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for the Audubon Society of Portland. “This public records request is about forcing the Oregon Department of Transportation to operate with maximum transparency and to ensure that the project is subject to the most rigorous environmental analysis going forward. Given the exorbitant costs, and significant environmental implication our communities should accept no less.”

You can read the full letter here. Stay tuned; we will learn more about the response from the federal government in about a month.

How We Get There Matters.

This January, before stepping down as General Manager of TriMet, Mr. Neil McFarlane told The Oregonian that he “candidly” didn’t understand the objection to the Rose Quarter Freeway expansion. We responded with a two-part series published in BikePortland last week (Part One and Two) that explains, candidly, not only why this freeway expansion is bad for TriMet’s riders, staff, and constituents, but also why TriMet is in need of significant governing reform to be a more effective ally to its transit-dependent constituents.
“Too many advocacy groups, elected officials, and agencies are approaching our region’s woes from the unimaginative position of “what broken institutions do we have to work with” as opposed to instead asking “Where should our region be in the next twenty years, and what political coalition realignments and structural reforms must we make now to get there?”
OPAL is organizing an event at TriMet’s Board Meeting this Wednesday, March 28 at 9:00am in downtown Portland; click here for OPAL’s facebook event page.  Hope you’ll join us!

Active Transportation City Council Event

Portland’s got an election coming up! We’ll be querying candidates running for various local positions their thoughts on the Rose Quarter freeway, and publishing their responses soon. In the meantime, don’t miss the upcoming City Council Candidate Forum on Transportation, cohosted by many of our advocacy groups. The event will be held at 5:30pm on April 5 at the NW location Lucky Lab.

 

Next Event-Planning Meeting:
Thursday March 28

Want to hear about our next steps for fighting this freeway? We want your help and volunteer time for our upcoming Jane’s Walk event on the first weekend of May.We’ll be meeting at the AORTA office on the second floor of Union Station (Suite 253) on Thursday, March 22 at 6:00pm. Hope to see you there!

Union Station is located at 800 NW 6th Avenue; accessible via Green and Yellow Line MAX, and many TriMet bus lines including 4, 8, 16, 17, 35, 44, and 77.

 

We Need Money.

Image shows a historic photograph of Union Station from the early 1930s
You all have been enormously generous to us. We’re here to ask you to help chip in once again. Between our Jane’s Walk plans, our enormously colorful new set of buttons, and a Super Top Secret Graphic Design project, we’re hoping to raise 1500 bucks in the next month. With the $2000 we’ve spent in the past six months, we’ve collected hundreds of letters to local governments, earned media on all major media outlets, amassed a substantial mailing list and a dedicated crew of volunteers ready to show up and help stop this freeway. We’re running entirely on donated labor and conviction; can you help chip in a couple bucks to help us keep the lights on? We know we’ve been slow to mail out buttons, but we assure you; they’re forthcoming.

ODOT’s Value Pricing Open House Closes Today.

Can you chime in asking for (De)congestion Pricing Before Freeway Expansion? 

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Online Open House on Congestion Pricing closes today. The No More Freeways Coalition has been closely following ODOT’s committee; we firmly believe that congestion pricing is an equitable, cost-efficient, climate-smart and necessary policy to alleviate congestion BEFORE we spend $450 million on an unnecessary freeway expansion that won’t solve congestion.

If you haven’t already submitted commentary, please check out ODOT’s Open House and make sure your voice is heard.

Our position, that we encourage you to share with ODOT:

  1. Congestion Pricing is Great!
  2. We should price any freeway inside the urban growth boundary and study impacts before *any* lane expansion.
  3. Revenue from pricing should be invest in transit operations (if legally viable under the Oregon Highway Trust), transit physical improvements, biking and walking, and NOT for further expansion of freeway and car capacity
  4. We should listen to advocates including OPAL Environmental Justice OregonCommunity Alliance of Tenants, and Verde sitting on the advisory committee to ensure congestion pricing is instituted appropriately and doesn’t burden low-income folks.

For More on Congestion Pricing, check out:
Monday is last day to visit ODOT’s online congestion pricing open house – Jonathan Maus, BikePortland.org
Is Congestion Pricing Fair to the Poor? – Michael Manville. Assistant Professor, UCLA
Transportation equity: Why peak period road pricing is fair –  Joe Cortright, City Observatory
How Congestion Pricing Influences Equity – Robert Krol, Mercatus Center

The next meeting of ODOT’s Value Pricing Advisory Committee has not been officially scheduled; it’s expected by the end of the month. Stay tuned.

TriMet’s Hiring Process, and Why it’s Relevant to our Freeway Expansion

Last week, we really enjoyed this article by Jake Arbinder inDemocracy Journal detailing the failures of public transit agencies in Boston and New York; in his view, American transit agencies are suffering because of a broken “political economy.” This is a fancy, academic way of saying that the agencies and bureaucracies that make decisions about how and where to invest in trains and buses don’t have adequate mechanisms for citizens, advocacy groups, and political leaders to influence their decisions for the greater good of the region. If no one at New York’s Subway system can be held accountable for system delays, and the City Mayor and State Governor can bicker about who is responsible without taking action, how will the city ever move forward with improvements?

That’s why we’re thrilled to pass along OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon‘s letter last week expressing skepticism of TriMet’s recent hiring process for their next General Manager. OPAL accurately points out the lax community engagement with the process, the lack of outreach to advisory committees, and the overall lackluster approach from TriMet in shaping itself to better serve the region.

We encourage you to sign OPAL’s letter, and learn more about their efforts for better community engagement in leadership decisions for TriMet.

Next Meeting: Feb 22

Image shows a historic photograph of Union Station from the early 1930s
Want to hear about our next steps for fighting this freeway? We’ll be meeting at the AORTA office on the second floor of Union Station (Suite 253) on Thursday, February 22 at 6:00pm. Hope to see you there!
Union Station is located at 800 NW 6th Avenue; accessible via Green and Yellow Line MAX, and many TriMet bus lines including 4, 8, 16, 17, 35, 44, and 77.