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.

What a busy week!

Save the Flint Avenue Bridge Rally A Success 

Last Tuesday, our coalition handed out coffee and donuts on the N Flint Avenue Bridge. The bridge is slated for removal as part of ODOT’s $450 million, 1.8 mile freeway expansion in Northeast Portland, and we spoke to hundreds of neighbors walking and biking about our concerns for the project. Thanks to our pals BikeLoudPDX for joining us on a sunny morning!

Check out our media coverage from the event:
“Groups collect signatures to petition against Interstate 5 expansion,” KATU
“Rally opposes I-5 freeway expansion near Rose Quarter” KGW
“Cyclists rally against removal of Rose Quarter bridge” KPTV
“Neighbors rally against Flint Avenue Bridge demolition” KOIN
“No More Freeway Expansion In PDX! What?” Mark Mason Show, KEX
“XRAY in the Morning” XRAY.fm
“Rally Against Freeway Expansion” KXL
“Community rallies against ODOT’s plans to tear down Flint Ave bridge” BikePortland.org

 

Nearly 300 comments on our #NotAnImprovement Letter

After hearing from ODOT, Mayor Wheeler and the Portland City Council about their tentative support for the freeway because they believed it was an Improvement to the Neighborhood, we asked you to join us by signing our letter explaining all of the reasons this freeway expansion was #NotAnImprovement to the local neighborhood.

Y’all delivered. 

Our 31-page letter includes 293 signatures and hundreds of comments from Portlanders who walk, bike, drive, and take transit through the Rose Quarter and emphatically agree with the hundreds of community members who believe this project is a boondoggle that harms the local neighborhood. This letter (along with letters from the Eliot Neighborhood Association and LUT Committee) was submitted as testimony for the 2035 Central City Plan.

If you didn’t sign our letter but still wish to tell the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Portland City Hall that this plan is #NotAnImprovement to our community, the Central City Plan is still taking comments up until noon today, Monday January 22.

Packed Day at Portland City Hall  

Image shows a photo of PPS Board Member Paul Anthony testifying at Portland City Council (photo credit Reed Andrews, KATU)Over a dozen people testified at the Central City Plan Hearing last Thursday in opposition to the freeway. The “freeway fightin’ hero of the day” award belongs to Portland Public School Board Member Paul Anthony, who spoke with strong condemnation about the impact this $450 million freeway expansion would have on the ability for PPS to reopen Harriet Tubman Middle School:

“To open Tubman this August we must immediately invest $12 million in health, safety and infrastructure improvements. In my view, ODOT and the city of Portland are putting PPS and it’s board in a nearly impossible situation. The district and its board is risking the education of 1000s of Portland’s children, the hopes and dreams of my own personal community, and spending $12 million of public money all on a resource this project is putting in grave risk.”

Photo Caption: Photo shows Harriet Tubman Middle School, with I-5 in the immediate foreground. Read Paul’s full testimony at BikePortland.organd check out the article about the importance of Anthony’s testimony in Portland Mercury. Harriet Tubman is a historic institution with particular significance to Portland’s original North Portland African-American community.

Are you a future Harriet Tubman parent, or member of the PTAs of Sabin, Boise/Eliot, Irvington or King schools and concerned about the impact the freeway expansion will have on your new middle school? Get in touch

What comes next?

ODOT’s Congestion Pricing Open House
At the behest of HB 2017, the transportation bill that passed Salem last summer, ODOT is exploring the institution of congestion pricing on I-5 and I-205. Our letter submitted last November documenting the importance of congestion pricing to developing equitable, cost-effective, sustainable solutions to traffic gridlock is available here. Our coalition believes that congestion pricing should be implemented on any interstate within the Urban Growth Boundary before *any* freeway expansion is studied, and that revenue raised from congestion pricing should be directed towards investments in transit, biking, walking, and existing freeway maintenance, in accordance with the recommendations proposed by environmental justice advocates on ODOT’s Value Pricing Committee.
ODOT is hosting three open houses on Congestion Pricing:
Tuesday, 1/23/18, Clackamas Town Center Community Room, 4:30pm
Saturday, 1/27/18, Lloyd Center Mall, 10:00am
Tuesday, 1/30/18, Vancouver Community Library, 4:30pm
More information on these open houses is available on ODOT’s website; you can also submit your comments online on ODOT’s internet open house, available here.
Harriet Tubman Middle School
We’re looking to build more connection to local businesses affected by the removal of the N Flint Avenue bridge and to parents and community members concerned with the air quality around Harriet Tubman Middle School. Please reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about our campaign, or can connect us to local advocates, parents, or others who wish to learn more about the freeway expansion’s impact on Tubman Middle School

Photo from our rally last week (Credit: Jonathan Maus, BikePortland.org)Throw us a couple bucks?
This entire enterprise, which has collected over 1,000 written comments in opposition to this freeway, captured public attention from every major newspaper in the region, has been run by volunteer community members with a bolder vision for transportation justice. A single donation of $100 last week helped fund our entire donuts-and-coffee rally last week, which led to thousands of Portlanders learning about our campaign on local media and collected over 90 signatures for our cause on a single day. We’ve spent less than $1400 over the last six months to call out our leaders about this $450,000,000 boondoggle. That’s a pretty cost-effective investment in the future of our city. Do you have some cash you can throw our way to help us keep up the fight? Plus, we have cool buttons.

Thanks for your continued support! Let’s go stop a freeway!

Tell City Hall: Rose Quarter Freeway Is #NotAnImprovement

notanimprovement

JOIN THE NO MORE FREEWAYS CAMPAIGN the morning of TUESDAY, JANUARY 16 as we serve coffee and donuts on the Flint Avenue Bridge to protest this unnecessary, counterproductive $450 million freeway boondoggle and protect the Flint Avenue Bridge. Information on our facebook event page.

notanimprovement button
SIGN OUR PETITION BY WEDNESDAY, JAN 17 AT 2:00PM
for your comments to be included in our coalition letter to Portland City Hall.


The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Portland City Council and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) can’t make up their mind on which talking points to use in their support of their half-a-billion dollar freeway boondoggle. Since the transportation package passed in Salem last July, we’ve seen legislators and policymakers claim this project is going to help alleviate a “traffic bottleneck,” although decades of research in cities across the world show that freeway expansion only induces traffic demand and makes congestion worse. ODOT then pivoted to claiming this half-a-billion-dollar freeway expansion was a safety improvement, a claim which Willamette Week thoroughly debunked by noting how many other streets in Portland have witnessed numerous fatalities (including some, like 82nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard, that are owned by ODOT) .

The latest talking point used by Portland City Council and ODOT in supporting this project lies in their assessment that this massive freeway expansion is justifiable because of the “local improvements” to the streets of the nearby neighborhoods; Mayor Wheeler spoke on OPB last September noting that the freeway expansion would  “reconnect the community” because of the proposed partial lids over I-5 and changes to the bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Despite these claims, the notion that the community would receive any benefit from this massive boondoggle is easily refutable with any meaningful review of the project’s plans.

The No More Freeways Coalition and our numerous transportation, environmental, public health and  neighborhood activist partners want to be loud and clear: the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion’s proposed changes to the local streets are #NotAnImprovement to the neighborhood.

Community leaders who have reviewed the proposed plans have raised the following concerns about the impact to the local streets associated with ODOT’s proposal:

Flint Bridge

  1. Removal of the Flint Avenue Bridge. Perhaps the most significant of the changes proposed by ODOT, the massive onramps included in the freeway expansion necessitates the removal of the Flint Avenue overpass of I-5. This bridge is currently a low-stress neighborhood greenway route that connects many eastside bicyclists to downtown (see map); the city’s annual bicycle counts suggest that it’s one of the busiest bike commuting routes in the city. In addition, the Flint Avenue bridge connects the soon-to-reopen Harriet Tubman Middle School and local businesses, like Ex-Novo, the nonprofit brewery, to the Rose Quarter. As local economist Joe Cortright writes at City Observatory, “Rather that “connecting” the community better, the project actually disconnects it …this project is a step backwards, concentrating more vehicle movements as well as more bicycles on main arterial streets, and eliminating a slower-speed, local serving street.” Eliminating a low-stress, important connection to downtown jobs for Portland’s bike commuters is #NotAnImprovement for this neighborhood. 

    lids_net
    ODOT’s Proposed Freeway Cover is merely a set of disconnected triangles, that, combined, won’t produce any urban space that invites more housing and development. These caps will also be unsupported, meaning that they won’t allow development on top of them, and are therefore incompatible with the Albina Vision. (Schematic produced by Jim Howell)
  2. Screenshot-2017-12-04-16.21.24
    Schematic shows the overlay of the oversized overpasses, and the Flint Avenue bridge that would be removed (image credit Jim Howell)

    Freeway “Caps” Leave A Lot to be Desired. Many proponents of this freeway expansion has been sold a vision of a “freeway cap” that would cover I-5 and help “reconnect the community.” Unfortunately, any review of the proposed “caps” shows that ODOT is not planning for a comprehensive cover for the freeway but merely incomplete concrete platforms that will be floating over the expanded freeway. These bizarrely-shaped caps won’t create vibrant, livable urban spaces that will encourage more housing, livable streets; they will be floating green islands surrounded by multiple lanes of congested traffic. One only needs to look a few blocks east, to Martin Luther King Junior Blvd, for an example of how ODOT designs park space for whizzing automobiles but not for the community members walking, biking, taking transit and living in the immediate neighborhood. As Cortright writes, “When you look closely at the project’s own illustrations, its apparent that the covers are actually just slightly oversized overpasses, with nearly all of their surface area devoted to roadway.” Replacing a gaping cut of a freeway with “oversized overpasses” full of the noise and noxious fumes of freeway traffic is #NotAnImprovement. 

  3. albina-aerialviewsouth
    Aerial view of “Albina Vision,” Photo by Jonathan Maus.

    Freeway Expansion Impacts  directly hinder Ambitious “Albina Vision” Plans.
    Community advocates have been drawing up bold, ambitious plans to more sincerely attempt to rectify the historic injustices of urban renewal in North and Northeast Portland. Dubbed the “Albina Vision,” (pictured), the proposal calls for massive new housing and office space redevelopment around and on top of the existing freeway. The renderings of these ambitious and exciting plans for new housing and redevelopment in Albina, writes Cortright, “has neatly made both the Interstate 5 freeway and its extensive on- and off-ramps disappear under a welter of new high rises” which are “…details very much at odds with the project proposed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.” Paving over the neighborhood with offramps and excess freeway capacity that won’t solve traffic congestion in a manner that prevents future ambitious, restorative justice development is #NotAnImprovement.

     

  4. Advocates are deeply skeptical of impact of the proposed bike and pedestrian facilities. Mayor Wheeler stated on OPB that he supported the $450 million Rose Quarter project because he believed it was “mostly a bicycle and pedestrian play.” However, many prominent, engaged and respected grassroots advocates for livable streets signed our letter in opposition to the freeway because of their sincere skepticism that the project represented an “improvement” for local biking and walking conditions, especially one worth of half a billion dollars of investment. Michael Andersen at BikePortland has written a definitive articulation of what little work ODOT has actually undertaken to consider the bicycle and pedestrian implications of this plan. Despite ODOT’s rhetoric, it’s clear that very little of this project has been designed for bicyclists and pedestrians in mind; if the ODOT were to spend $450 million on improving access for bicycles, pedestrians, and transit users to the Rose Quarter, it’d certainly look a lot different than this. As Andersen reports, the proposed Hancock-Dixon crossing will be too steep (beyond ADA grade) for comfortable bike-riding, and the proposed NE Clackamas crossing of I-5 will be similarly steep and connect directly to an underdeveloped parking lot.  The current plans are #NotAnImprovement for anyone hoping to bike and walk through the neighborhood. 
    2017-closer-marked
    Turning Radii: Is this a neighborhood, or a series of onramps? (image by Doug Klotz)


  5. Diverging_Diamond_DetailIt sure seems like the street grid design aspects of this project were drawn up solely to move automobiles quickly through the neighborhood. As Joe Cortright wrote in a separate article in City Observatory, the “diverging diamond” series of onramps to the freeway near N Broadway and Williams create a significant hazard for people walking in the neighborhood. Longtime pedestrian advocate Doug Klotz also notes that the streets leading to the onramps are designed with an increased radius of curvature at the intersections; this is a really wonky way of saying that these streets are designed for cars to rapidly accelerate on their way around the intersections and down into the freeway. It sure seems like a dangerous proposition to design the streets for such ease of automobile speed, considering the thousands of Blazers and Winterhawks fans that pass through these intersections after games and the daily foot traffic towards local businesses. It’s safe to say that these plans are prioritizing the mobility of car traffic over the safety of pedestrians, which is #NotAnImprovement for a neck of town with aspirations of becoming a vibrant, walkable, engaging neighborhood.
  6. Tubman-Exterior-800x450PX
    Harriet Tubman Middle School

    And Oh Yeah, there’s significant implications for the air quality for the whole neighborhood, especially a soon-to-reopen Middle School with historic connection to Portland’s African American community. Freelance journalist Daniel Forbes has covered air quality issues in Portland for years; he broke many of the stories regarding the Bullseye Plant and their unhealthy air emissions in Southeast Portland back in 2016. He published a story in the Cascadia Times last week exploring the significant implications that the freeway expansion will play in adding more pollution to the air quality around Harriet Tubman, a soon-to-reopen Middle School that PPS has prioritized in their efforts to establish middle-level education for students in Northeast Portland.  According to Forbes, Portland Public Schools’ plans to build remediation walls to improve air quality for Tubman’s students will be demolished by ODOT’s freeway expansion proposal, which in fact expands Interstate 5 eastward and closer to the students at the school.

    Our coalition is in the process of building stronger relationships with PPS officials, Tubman families and neighbors to more accurately identify the scale of the public health risk associated with the freeway expansion next to the middle school. For the time being, though, it’s safe to say that expanding a freeway so more diesel trucks and polluting automobiles can sit in gridlock and contribute to unhealthy air immediately under a middle school is #NotAnImprovement for the neighborhood.

Our coalition remain convinced that the only way to address growing congestion on our busy freeways is to implement congestion pricing, and to direct revenue raised from pricing into robust investments in public transit, biking and walking. No freeway expansion should take place until congestion pricing is implemented on this corridor first. It remains the request of our organization that City of Portland remove the I-5 freeway expansion from the Transportation System Plan (TSP) update of the Comprehensive Plan, and that any freeway expansion should not take place until congestion pricing is implemented and it’s impacts studied first.  A collection of letters we’ve written to City Hall and ODOT’s Congestion Pricing Advisory Committee are available here.


 

ACT NOW: TELL CITY HALL ODOT’S $450 MILLION PLANS ARE #NOTANIMPROVEMENT

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Attend our Rally to Save The Flint Avenue Bridge from 7:30 to 10am on Tuesday, January 16th. (Facebook Event Page HERE)
  2. Sign our petition and include your comments about why you’re concerned this expansion is #NotAnImprovement. We’ll deliver them to City Hall in advance of the January 18th Hearing.
  3. Share on Social Media! We’re on facebook and twitter, and using the hashtag #NotAnImprovement to discuss why this project is bad for the streets of inner North/Northeast Portland.
  4. Testify! We’ll be testifying at the Central City Plan hearing at 2:00pm at Portland City Hall. If you’re available, we’d love for you to join us; sign up on the petition and we’ll be in touch if you’d like some assistance.
  5. Donate! This entire campaign is run by scrappy community advocates; if you donate $15 we’ll send you a button.

Let’s go kill a freeway!