Can we count on you?

Public Comment Closes Monday, April 1st.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

We’ve received over 450 comments in opposition to this project (That’s nearly one for every $1 million this proposed freeway expansion is going to cost!) Thank you so much for your support. If you haven’t got on the record yet, now’s the time. We’re hoping to get double that by the end of next week, and we need your help.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

We sent ODOT a letter asking the agency to honor their original commitment to provide us a full 45 day public comment period, starting from the March 13th date that they provided the additional 630 pages of traffic data we need to independently verify their claims. The agency said no (just like they did when we asked for an extension in November – doesn’t seem like they are particularly inclined to giving community groups much time to review their findings), so unless they change their mind soon thanks to the pressure some elected officials are placing behind the scenes, the public comment period ends on April 1st.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

April 1st! That’s only six days from now!

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

image shows a screenshot of Janette Sadik-Khan calling out Portland for considering a freeway expansion.
City Observatory asked national urban transportation leaders including Janette Sadik-Khan, Robin Chase, and Jennifer Keesmaat (three solid candidates for a Mt Rushmore of badass transportation leaders) what they thought about this project. They all spoke out in opposition to the freeway widening.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

Someone asked: “Can you imagine a future for the Albina Vision that is not dependent on widening the freeway?” “Yes. I can envision a future like that,” Adams replied.

BikePortland.org covered the recent Portland Parks Foundation event about the Albina Vision and how it relates to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

Portland Public Schools officially voted last week to send public comment to ODOT asking for the agency to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement that addresses the numerous health and safety concerns that the district has about the freeway expansion in the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School. PPS Board Members grilled ODOT staff about this project more than any other public agency throughout this entire process. The Oregonian and KATU covered the vote, PPS’ draft memo can be read here, and you can watch the youtube stream of PPS’s questions to ODOT here (our testimony is available here!).

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

Numerous organizations are finalizing their letters and submitting public comment asking for ODOT to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement, including Oregon Walks

“Rather than spend millions on a project that is detrimental to our pedestrian safety, climate justice, and community building goals, we look forward to collaborating on a future Rose Quarter project that creates an equitable and sustainable Oregon for generations to come.”

…and the City of Portlnad’s Bicycle Advisory Committee:

As a regional multimodal hub, the transportation network in Albina is overdue for investment that reflects the city’s and state’s current transportation planning goals and priorities. This investment should prioritize equity, active transportation, transit, and safety. Instead, the I-5 Rose Quarter project is a freeway expansion, and a failed attempt to patch local connections, bicycling, walking and transit facilities back together afterward

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

“The best analogy for car traffic is that car traffic is a gas. You let it go and it expands to fill the space available…We are getting at a systemic question that if Oregon has a chance of meeting our carbon goals we have to divest from fossil fuel infrastructure like freeways…There are meaningful, equitable and just ways to do this that don’t give our kids asthma, that don’t screw over working-class folks, that reduce traffic fatalities, that de-carbonize.”

We somehow got to use the phrase “screw over” in a newspaper of record, Clark County’s The Columbianand our story was on the front page right below an unrelated difference story about questionable government negligence and incompetence disguised with a misleading headline.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record in the next week. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion TODAY or by April 1st. 

“These calculations suggest that traffic congestion between Portland and Vancouver is materially affected by tax avoidance. Short of changing one or both of the two state’s tax structures it may be difficult to remove this incentive. But there is another way. Congestion pricing, particularly variable peak hour tolls, could prompt sales tax conscious shoppers to make their Oregon trips at off-peak times. Off-peak shoppers could continue to get their Oregon tax break and also avoid paying a high toll for peak hour travel. The result would be better traffic flow during peak hours for those who had less flexibility in arranging their travel schedules.”

Speaking of Clark County, City Observatory published a great piece highlighting how much of our recurring traffic congestion on I-5 is due to Oregon’s lack of a sales tax (and lack of congestion pricing.) City Observatory has also written about how the RQ Freeway Expansion is wide enough for ODOT to stripe the freeway even *wider* than they are proposing, how the renderings of the drawing are disingenuous, and how this expansion is unlikely to improve traffic safety in the corridor. We’re indebted to City Observatory for their ongoing reporting and independent research on this freeway project – Joe Cortright also published a succinct op-ed in The Portland Tribune.

image directs people to website to submit public testimony
In case you somehow missed our subtle reminders, the public comment period is a big-freakin-deal for the success of our campaign, and if you have strong feelings about this freeway whatsoever, there’s no better time than today to formally voice your concerns about this project. So go do it.

We’ve made it easy for you – we have a form on our website from which you can submit testimony, and a list of popular/easy talking points. It’s most helpful if you tell your own personal story – why are *you* worried about the air pollution in the neighborhood? Are you a parent concerned about climate change? Do you walk on 82nd avenue frequently, and wish ODOT would get around to fixing that instead of dumping $500 million into a freeway expansion? Are you just plain bonkers for induced demand?

If you’ve already submitted public comment, thank you! Can you post this on social media (our hashtag is #NOI5RQX), bug your roommate or spouse or friends to check us out, or forward our email? Word of mouth and community-to-community organizing is more effective than any paid ads we can provide.

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support. We’re in the final stretch – let’s go big and do this thang.

(and please, send in public comment).

Overwhelming turnout for the good guys at ODOT hearing

Top 10 highlights from Tuesday’s Hearing

  1. photo shows crowd at public hearingNumerous students from Harriet Tubman Middle School testifying in opposition to ODOT’s plans for freeway expansion, testifying at a public hearing for the first time
  2. Paul Rippey providing a reprise of his “Induced Demand” jingle, and getting the crowd to sing along
  3. Jillian Detweiler of the Street Trust testified, stating their constructive opposition to the project as it currently is due to climate implications, desire to see the Albina Vision implemented, and inadequate bike improvements
  4. Rithy Khut from the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, stating the BAC would be either recommending a “No Build” alternative or asking for the agency to move forward with an Environmental Impact Statement
  5. Grant Sawyer, veteran of Portland’s freeway fights in the seventies who helped kill the Mt Hood Freeway, reminding us all about the political leadership back in the day
  6. RJ Sheperd using his testimony to ask for a moment of silence for the sixteen year old hit and nearly killed by an automobile while crossing the ODOT-owned arterial, 82nd Avenue.
  7. Bryan Chu, Harriet Tubman Middle School teacher, passionately making the case for his students, and noting that ODOT was failing a generation of young students of color
  8. Eliot Neighborhood Association Member Allan Rudwick asking “y’all are calling this an Environmental Justice project? I mean, c’mon” with the whole room laughing in tacit acknowledgement
  9. Tori Cole, with Neighbors for Clean Air, who testified in opposition specifically noting how children are particularly susceptible to air pollution from automobiles
  10. The numerous explicit references to this project’s climate impacts, and significance of investment in fossil fuel infrastructure when 40% of our state’s carbon emissions come from transportation(and one final bonus):
  11. All y’all showed up. Depending on the news source you trust, somewhere between 100-200 people were at the hearing on Tuesday, and the overwhelming majority of people were in opposition to this project. From our graphic designers to our neighborhood parents, our engaged teachers to our traffic planners, our sign-wavers and our climate advocates – we couldn’t have done it without you.

We ain’t done yet, but this Tuesday’s hearing felt like an important moment for our campaign. We’re going to need your help through the final two weeks, but let’s just acknowledge: we took over that meeting. Sincere gratitude to you all – what an excellent accomplishment representing all that we’ve worked on for over 18 months of organizing.

📰 Media Coverage 📰

(Pretty cool how all of the headlines are accurately calling this a freeway expansion and not an “improvement project”)

If we have any backbone,” said Katy Wolf, chair of the Boise Neighborhood Association, “we should be telling ODOT to be putting a hard pause on [the project] while we wait for congestion pricing to take effect.”

Opponents Dominate Hearing On Portland Rose Quarter I-5 Expansion Project – Oregon Public Broadcasting

Bryan Chu, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Tubman Middle School, said it’s unclear if the school would be shuttered during construction or what the project might mean for the majority students of color who attend it. Chu said he can only assume there is no plan for Tubman. “We have always been made to pay the price for Portland’s progress,” he said, before adding, “Black lives matter, black students matter, black schools matter, black lung matters.

Rose Quarter freeway critics dominate meeting, then Chloe Eudaly throws curveball – The Oregonian

“Student Sadie Herout said, “It’s not just going to be affecting me, it’s going to be affecting a lot of people.” Manson and Herout – students at Harriet Tubman Middle School – are now concerned about an ODOT project so close by. “The air quality is very bad at our school. To add more trucks and automobiles would increase toxic particulates in the air,” said Herout.”

Portlanders voice opinions on I-5 Rose Quarter expansion project – KPTV

“At least a hundred concerned citizens gathered at the Oregon Convention Center on Tuesday evening to give the Oregon Department of Transportation their opinions on expanding Interstate five through the Rose Quarter.

Most did not like the idea.

ODOT gets earful from community over I-5 downtown expansion plans – KGW

“Freeway expansion is climate denialism. Forty percent of Oregon’s carbon emission comes from transportation, and spending half a billion dollars on new freeway when we have 11 years to solve climate change is intergenerational theft,” Aaron Brown with No More Freeways Coalition said.”

ODOT holds meeting to discuss I-5 expansion project, community members rally against – KPTV

“Iannarone also lamented how it seems we, as Portlanders, have “Lost our way” when it comes to leadership on transportation. Then, like many other people throughout the night, she appealed directly to Commissioner Eudaly. “I know that you have courage. I know you have vision. We will have your back if you stand with us on this.” “And to ODOT,” Iannarone concluded, “It’s just not going to happen. We’ll lie down on that highway before you ever build this.””

ODOT’s I-5 widening project weathers severe opposition at first public hearing – BikePortland.org

“That opposition had a big presence at Tuesday’s three-hour meeting—the only hearing that will be held during ODOT’s public comment period, which ends April 1. People largely framed their opposition through a moral lens, insisting that investing in freeway expansion could contribute to global warming and negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood…

The choice, from Brown’s view, is clear—on both a logistical and moral level. “We’re out of time,” he said. “I understand there are political realities; there are also physical realities. There is only so much carbon we can put into our atmosphere.

Rose Quarter I-5 Expansion is a Moral Issue for Opponents – Portland Mercury

(…and while we’re at it, three other great links from this week!)

“A wider freeway will induce more traffic and pollution (and ironically, worsen traffic congestion), runs directly counter to the city and state’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, does nothing to improve safety, especially for those walking or biking, and disproportionately benefits higher income commuters from outside the city, while imposing social and environmental costs primarily on lower income households and people of color,” Cortright wrote on his City Observatory blog.

screenshot of twitter, where #NOI5RQX was trending on TuesdayPortland economist calls Rose Quarter freeway project ‘tragic error’The Oregonian

“Hardesty said she opposes the plan to spend around $500 million improving the area where Interstate 5 and Interstate 84 merge in the Rose Quarter. She believes the money would be better spent on alternative transportation projects, including bike and pedestrian paths.”

Hardesty charts ambitious course: ‘I’ve been very busy’ – Portland Tribune
“Myself and other parents from Tubman–especially the other members’ parents of the PTSA–we definitely think it’s a bad idea for them to expand a freeway, pretty much behind or close to the school Tubman. I definitely believe that the air quality wouldn’t be good for our kids as we’re already experiencing bad air there,” Tadimika Edwards, president of the Tubman Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association

Not On Board: Groups align against I-5 expansion – Portland Observer

#NOI5RQX
The hashtag for our event (thanks, Sarah Iannarone, for coining it!) trended on twitter during the public hearing.

Data Delivered

picture is a screenshot of an excel chart with numbers

26 days after ODOT released their incomplete version of the Environmental Assessment, and after sustained pressure from our organization, the agency finally released the numerous technical charts and data sets that should have been included in the EA in the first place. Despite the 100 pages of flowery images and greened-up renderings, the EA released in February was missing the actual quantitative data that demonstrates ODOT’s ability to accurately assess the impact this project would have on traffic congestion, carbon emissions or air pollution.

Our coalition is eagerly looking through the data sets and determining if we have all of the data necessary to complete our independent analysis, and will conduct what analysis we can in the 18 days remaining in the Public Comment period. Stay tuned. 

Missing the hearing? Don’t fret – submit public comment and help spread the word:

Image shows the NMF logo and text asking folks to submit comment to the public testimony
Our favorite comment submitted this week comes from Microcosm Publishing, a small business in the Eliot Neighborhood near the Freeway Expansion:I am a retail business owner in the Eliot neighborhood with an on-site staff of 12, at least eight of whom at any given time commute daily by bicycle, transit, and walking across the area affected by the proposed I-5 expansion project. Of these, several also suffer from severe asthma. Part of our business is open to the public, and the majority of our customers arrive without cars. We all suffer the deleterious effects of proximity to I-5.The impact of the proposed Rose Quarter project, including both the construction and the existence of the finished project will result in decreased transportation options and an increase in traffic as well as air and noise pollution that is all already well above tolerable levels. 

Want to submit your own comment? We need you on the record!
Check out our website where we’ve got tips on what to say to have the most impact.

We spent about $300 making Tuesday happen.

Can you help us cover our expenses?photo caption asks for donations to campaign

Our community driven campaign is a labor of love, and every dollar you can spare is a dollar we can spend turning out public comment during these final two weeks. Thanks to all of you who have given already, and thanks to those of you who have given your time, energy and support. Tuesday’s event was possible because of people like yourself, and we’re hoping to pull a few more tricks from our sleeve in these final few weeks. Donations are tax deductible!

Rally and Hearing on Tuesday at Oregon Convention Center!

map of the oregon convention center, with Room 109 highlighted.Tuesday’s the big day! We’re having a short rally at 4:00 at the Oregon Convention Center before lining up to sign the testimony sheet which ODOT will put out at 4:30. We’re still putting together our last-minute plans for the event – be sure to check out our facebook event page/twitter for all the latest information. We understand it’s a work day, and we hope you’ll join us whenever you can! ODOT is removing the sign-up sheet at 6:00pm, so if you plan to testify you need to be at the hearing before then. We’ll have fliers, stickers, new buttons, magnets, copies of Sarah Mirk’s new zine about us, information on how to testify, and posters to distribute. The legendary Paul Rippey is rumored to be making an appearance!

If you can’t make the event, we’ll post the link to a livestream video of the hearing on social media if ODOT provides one.

Thanks to all who came to Wonk Night!
Photo shows people talking at bikeportland.org's "wonk night" event last Wednesday.

(Photo Credit Jonathan Maus)

Thanks to BikePortland, The Street Trust, Lancaster Engineering for hosting the “Wonk Night” last week, and thanks to the dozens of individuals who attended! We’re thrilled to see so many people showing up to dig into the technical details of the Environmental Assessment document that ODOT has provided and point out some of the critical flaws about the proposed designs. Check BikePortland.org for a recap of the findings from the community review of the document.

Outstanding Turnout at ODOT’s Open House

Thanks to all the community members who turned out for ODOT’s Open House! Our campaign got a little time to make our case on KATU, with reporter Lincoln Graves noting “we couldn’t find anyone in attendance willing to speak on the record in support of the project.” We’re a little bummed to see that the news station somehow managed to spend two minutes talking about a freeway widening and not mention climate change once in the entire news brief, but hey, we’ll do our best to hammer the issue home at the public hearing on Tuesday.

No response from ODOT:
Where’s the data?

photo shows image from infamous "Where's the Beef" commercial but with "HEY ODOT WHERES THE DATA" superimposed over it

Last Monday, we sent a letter to ODOT asking for access to numerous data sets that were not included in the Environmental Assessment. The main document that ODOT is using to base their traffic projections (and therefore, the assessments on how this project would impact carbon emissions and air pollution) is missing *numerous* data sets, figures, appendices and riddled with inconsistencies. We are currently 22 days into a 45 day public comment period, and community members have not been given any opportunity to meaningfully independently assess ODOT’s (very dubious) claims.  Meanwhile, while the Environmental Assessment is missing all those facts and figures, Joe Cortright at City Observatory wrote at length about what *is* in the document:“When it comes to the proposed half billion dollar I-5 Rose Quarter Freeway widening project, the Environmental Assessment is less of an honest and objective disclosure, and much more a carefully edited and thinly veiled sales brochure.  The hucksterism starts with the name of the project, proceeds through its “communication plan,” and is executed in technical documents that have been carefully edited to remove the most salient information.”

Read more here.

Have you submitted your public comment yet? 

We can’t emphasize enough: we need you to submit your written opposition to this project on the record before April 1st. We’ve got a full guide on our website about what to write and what sort of testimony is most helpful – share it with your friends, colleagues, roommates, and anyone else who cares about the future of our community. Our favorite so far includes this written description submitted at Thursday’s Open House:

Media Round-Up!

His takeaway: “What the freeway expansion clearly does…is repeat the historical injustice done by freeway construction in the first place: subsidizing travel for higher-income persons who live outside the neighborhood, while doing essentially nothing to better meet the needs of lower-income persons who live in and near the project’s location.”
– Willamette Week covered Joe Cortright’s research showing the massive demographic discrepancies between who drives on the freeway and who breathes the polluted air nearby.
A plan to widen Interstate 5 in the Rose Quarter could produce thousands more tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, according to a local think tank. If enacted, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Rose Quarter Improvement Plan will add two additional lanes to I-5 in the Rose Quarter area, equaling about 1.6 miles of new freeway lanes. According to analysis by Portland city planning think tank City Observatory, that could lead to 17.5 million additional vehicle miles—that is, the amount of miles driven by cars in a particular area—each year.
– Published in the Portland Mercurylast week.
“There’s not a single city anywhere in North America that has ever solved traffic congestion through freeway expansion.”
– Aaron Brown, on KATU News on March 7thSightline Institute updated and republished their FAQs about the project.“After sitting in traffic for over an hour on my way back to Portland from my job substitute teaching in Hillsboro, I’m almost tempted to believe Oregon Department of Transportation’s plan to invest $450 million in a 1.8-mile lane highway expansion sounds like a good idea. Luckily, I spent the day teaching students about the importance of research and data and how our notions of common sense are not always rooted in reality. Highway expansion, it turns out, is one of those instances.”
– A fantastic letter to the editor published in The Oregonianfrom Susie Kassouf in Southeast PortlandWe were on XRAY in the Morning on Thursday, March 7th, and we’ll be on the Heather McCoy show on KBOO at 10am on March 14th (apologies for those who tuned in last week – KBOO double-booked themselves!).

We celebrate #InternationalWomensDay by highlighting the work of Connie McCready and Marjie Lundell, who successfully fought freeway expansion in Northwest Portland in the 1970s, published in BikePortland in 2016.

New swag! Same fundraising ask!

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

The public comment period closes April 1. That’s three weeks from today! That’s all the time we have left to get comments from every community members, letters from nonprofit advocacy organizations, statements from elected officials, academic documents highlighting air quality/climate/transportation research, and technical analysis of ODOT’s dubious claims into the. Every dollar you donate from here on out helps us put out posters, promote our campaign online, and solicit every possible word we can get on the record.

We’re excited for this public comment period to end and for the chance to mail y’all all the buttons, magnets, and copies of Sarah Mirk’s zine on our campaign that you could possibly want.

Thanks for your help on this final push!

Latest Dispatches from Portland’s Freeway Fight

SUBMIT PUBLIC COMMENT BEFORE APRIL 1

Image includes a No More Freeways Logo and the text "Action Alert" directing readers to submit public comment.

We’ve solicited nearly 200 comments in the last week. Thanks to our pals at 350 PDX, Oregon Walks and the Community Cycling Center for sharing information about our campaign. You can click on the big button above or on this link here to submit comments online. We’ve provided a script and some talking points, but honestly, write from the heart about your own reasons to oppose this project – that’s as good a testimony as any we could ask for.

EVENTS COMING UP

Wednesday, March 6 – BikePortland.org Wonk Night Want to get deep into the weeds and look over some of the specific nerdy details of the project? BikePortland.org is hosting a Wonk Night to look over the specific details of the Environmental Assessment. Event starts at 6:00pm at Lancaster Engineering.

Thursday, March 7 – ODOT’s Open House. Starts at 6:00pm at the Leftbank Annex Building. We’ll be there to hand out information about our campaign and encourage folks to testify in opposition to the project. Join us!

Tuesday, March 12 – Public Comment Hearing Join us at 4:00 at the Oregon Convention Center for our press conference. We’ll be signing folks up to testify at 4:30, and the public hearing itself begins at 5. This will be the big, can’t-miss advocacy event of the month; hope to see you there! RSVP and invite your friends to join you on facebook. Spread the word!

DATA REQUEST!

For the past two weeks, our wonderful campaign volunteers have been pouring over the data provided by ODOT in the Environmental Assessment. We were hoping to look at the arithmetic that went into ODOT’s traffic modeling – unfortunately, numerous appendices and data figures that are crucial for us to independently verify these claims have not yet been available despite the EA being published two weeks ago. We wrote a letter this week asking ODOT to please provide with us a handful of specific data sets, appendices, and clarifications on their projections. Stay tuned!

 

Press Coverage of our campaign!

Photo shows a screenshot of KATU's interview with NMF's Aaron Brown
“We’ve got 11 years to stop climate change, and if we’re making investments in intergenerational infrastructure, how can half-a-billion dollars be spent on freeway widening?” 
– We were thrilled to see Henry Grabar provide some national coverage with an article published in Slate.com (it was also picked up in CityLab).“This is like building a blockbuster video when everyone’s getting around to watching Netflix. We need to be moving forward with 21st century solutions to climate change air quality and mobility.”

– We spoke to reporters at KATU News at the Flint Avenue Bridge.

“The levels [of pollutants] are pretty high,” said Boz Eppley, the parent of a seventh grader at Harriet Tubman. “I’m not comfortable with them. My dad died from cancer that was caused directly by benzene [one of the pollutants mentioned in the PSU study], and it is just a terrible, terrible way to die. To think that one of these kids might be dealing with that in eight to ten years is really scary.”

– The Portland Mercury had a great piece on the impacts to Harriet Tubman Middle School, pointing out the concern that Tubman parents felt about the air pollution already on the campus.“A coalition of nearly three dozen Portland neighborhood groups, nonprofits, business and environmental justice advocates denounced a report released last week asserting the proposed Rose Quarter freeway project would reduce travel times, air pollution and carbon emissions.

The No More Freeway Expansions Coalition on Tuesday said the report’s findings are dubious in claiming that carbon emissions would be reduced if the more than $500 million project on Interstate 5 in the Rose Quarter moves forward.”

– The Oregonian covered our response to ODOT’s disingenuous Environmental Assessment statements.

“Widening I-5 in Portland apparently made traffic congestion worse”

– City Observatory wrote about how ODOT widened a stretch of I-5 less than a decade ago, promising it would reduce crashes and improve travel times. Guess what? It didn’t do either of those things, and the project came in wildly over budget.

📻 We’ll be on XRAY.fm at 8:30 on Thursday, March 6th and on the Heather McCoy show on KBOO.fm at 10:00 later that morning. Tune in! 📻

So Many Small Donations, One Big Freeway to Stop

photo shows one of our "more jane jacobs, less robert moses" buttonsThanks to the dozens of you who have donated anywhere between $10 to $150 over the past few months. Every donation goes directly towards our propoganda funds. We’ve got some big plans for the public hearing on March 12 and each small donor gets us a little bit closer to covering our costs for all the stickers, posters, signs, and campaign rabblerousing we’re undertaking.Donations are tax-deductible, and we’ll mail you a nice card and some buttons after this whole EA process is over. We’re thrilled to have you on our side.

It’s Public Comment Time!

Photo shows one of our "No More Freeways" stickers on a bike rack outside of Portland City Hall

It’s finally here! Last Friday, the Oregon Department of Transportation officially released their Environmental Assessment for the $500 million, 1.8 mile freeway widening project through North Portland’s Rose Quarter. This document is filled with ODOT’s quantitative assertions that building this half a billion dollar freeway expansion will somehow result in reduced carbon emissions, improved air quality in the neighborhood, and a reduction in traffic congestion. This seems…highly improbable, given the decades of research that exist linking freeways to poor air quality, carbon emissions and induced demand for more driving. 

We’ll be spending the next month going through the Environmental Assessment to factcheck these dubious claims (to the extent that we can: the EA released last Friday is lacking numerous appendices and data sets we’ll need to do our own math). We wish we had more than 45 days to review this document, but ODOT denied our request for a two month extension we issued last November. Our letter was co-signed by 35 nonprofit organizations, small business owners, elected officials, environmentalists and neighborhood advocates, who agreed that ODOT needed to give us more time to review this complex, technocratic document.

We’re setting up a page on our website to make it easy for community members to log their concerns about this project. We hope you’ll spend some time in the next month joining us in submitting testimony against this project, and that you’ll help spread the word to your peers, colleagues and friends. We’re going to need every ounce of your help.

Click HERE to check out our public comment page.

*SAVE THE DATES*

ODONT

In addition to submitting comment on the record, we need people to turn out for ODOT’s public hearing and the open house. We’re also hosting a volunteer meet up *tomorrow* at the AORTA office in Union Station, if you’d like to get more involved in the next month. Save these dates – we’ll have more information on the open house / public comment soon. Hope to see you there!

VOLUNTEER MEET UP
Wednesday, February 20
6:00pm – 7:30pm
AORTA Office, Room 253 in Union Station
800 NW 6th Ave, Portland
(facebook event with more information here)

ODOT OPEN HOUSE
Thursday, March 7
Leftbank Annex – Clubroom
101 N Weidler St, Portland

PUBLIC COMMENT 
March 12, 2019
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland
(more information about the No More Freeways presence at this Public Comment hearing on our Facebook page)

BikePortland Publishes Op-Ed by 350PDX, OPAL, Neighbors for Clean Air

Image Shows I-5 below Harriet Tubman Middle School

Last month’s reporting by The Oregoniansuggests that even with passage of pending carbon legislation, Oregon simply won’t hit carbon reduction targets without fundamentally reducing emissions from private automobiles. It is frustrating to watch self-proclaimed environmentalists in City Hall and Salem champion freeway expansion when 40% of Oregon’s carbon emissions come from transportation. The hurricanes, fires and floods are only growing stronger. Expansion of this freeway represents a complicit willingness to ignore Oregon’s responsibility to future generations and the planet.”

Thanks to BikePortland for publishing our most recent op-ed, and thanks to OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon, 350PDX and Neighbors for Clean Air for adding their names to our cause.

HOW YOU CAN HELP.

Image Shows one of our new buttons, with the text "We've got eleven years to solve climate change; freeway expansion is climate denialism"
TELL TEN FRIENDS: Who are the ten friends of yours who care deeply about climate change that may not know about this project? The colleague who is always talking your ear off about air quality, your neighbor who is always muttering that they wish transit was free?  Please, forward them our email, encourage them to sign up for our updates. This sort of grassroots outreach is how we’ve raised over $12,000 to wage this legal fight, got more than 3500 followers across our platforms, and submitted thousands of comments to the public record as this project winds through municipal government.  Please: talk about the need to stop freeway expansion with your PTAs, your neighbors, your colleagues. Send them our way!DONATE: We’ve got some big public hijinx planned, and the size and scale of them is just a matter of how much we can get donated. Every dollar counts! Donate more than $10 and we’ll eventually send you some of our new stickers and a few political buttons. Donations are tax-deductible.

SHOW UP: Come to our volunteer meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, 2/20) and save the date for the public hearing on March 12.

11 reasons this was a spectacular year for Portland’s 21st century Freeway Revolt

This January marks sixteen months of the No More Freeways Coalition. Our grassroots, nonpaid, rabblerousing community- led fight to stop expanding freeways had a banner year. At the end of this email, we’re going to ask you for some money to help us launch the fight we need next year. Before that, though, here’s eleven highlights from the year:

 

 

1:  We made a helluva video.

Image Caption: Video showing expansion of freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School

 

Thanks to our pals at Cupola Media for their assistance. Our video has received over 15,000 views on all platforms since we debuted it in August.

2: We held a rally to save the Flint Avenue Bridge

Photo Caption: People in the neighborhood stopping to eat donuts on the Flint Avenue Bridge

This January, we collected over one hundred signatures by holding a “Breakfast on the Bridge” style event on the Flint Avenue Bridge next to Harriet Tubman Middle School. We spoke to many folks who had no idea that ODOT was planning on removing the Flint Avenue Bridge as part of the freeway expansion. Our rally got press coverage on KATUKGWKPTVKOIN the Mark Mason Show on KEXXRAY.fmKXL, and BikePortland.org.

We’re hoping to do another iteration of this event in February (hopefully with the same sunny skies). Stay tuned!

3: Decongestion Pricing moves forward

We closely followed ODOT’s “Value Pricing Committee” and submitted testimony that hundreds of you co-signed. Decongestion pricing is the only public policy ever proven to eliminate traffic congestion, and it’s a crucial tool for policymakers working to build a prosperous Portland metro region in which the majority of families don’t need an automobile for every single trip to work, to school, to shop. Our letters to the Oregon Transportation Commission and the City of Portland stated that revenue from pricing must be used to fund transit improvements over freeway expansion, as well as a list of other ways to ensure that road pricing is implemented equitably. In July, Willamette Week published our letter explaining how decongestion pricing can work in concert with equity goals.

4: Newspaper headlines continue to suggest we’re on to something

 

Photo Caption: Graph by the Oregonian detailing Oregon's current and future carbon emissions through 2050.

“Oregon greenhouse emissions are rising again. The state is not on track to meet its emissions-reduction goals and won’t get there under current policies…The main culprit is transportation emissions, primarily from trucks and passenger vehicles. This sector is the largest source of emissions in Oregon, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total. For policymakers, it is the toughest to regulate as it involves emissions from millions of drivers.”  – With emissions on the rise, Oregon falls well short of greenhouse gas reduction goalsThe Oregonian

Willamette Week also covered the impacts that the freeway expansion are expected to have on the air quality at Harriet Tubman Middle School, and The Portland Mercury wrote a story about how ODOT’s own consultants admit that this project will have a negligible impact on traffic congestion.

5: Clean sweep on election night

Caption: photo of a ballot at a local libraryWe sent a candidate questionnaire this past April, and found out that five of the seven candidates running for Portland’s two City Council seats opposed the Rose Quarter Freeway. Jo Ann Hardesty is officially the first City Councilor elected on record opposing this project. There were numerous other victories by candidates supporting smarter, multimodal transportation investments across the Portland Metro region and the state. Meanwhile, the legislature’s biggest champion of the Westside Bypass project and loudest opponent of decongestion pricing each lost this November.

6: The catchiest public testimony you’ve ever heard

Image shows Paul Rippey testifying with his guitar at Portland City Council

If, somehow, you managed to avoid getting Paul Rippey’s jingle about induced demand stuck in your head last May, well, we dare you to watch again. Great to see Rippey’s song get coverage in BikePortland and The Oregonianand to watch Commissioner Eudaly take a photo of his testimony from the dias.

7: We testified at Metro, JPACT, OTC, Portland City Hall, ODOT Commissions and pretty much anywhere else that has to listen to us.
Photo Caption: Aaron Brown and Sarah Iannarone testifying at a Metro Council meeting this August.
Thanks to our legion of volunteers and engaged community members who took time out of their day (and often missed work!) to show up and speak into a microphone about why ODOT’s proposed freeway expansions across the region are bad for congestion, bad for climate, and bad for public health. We testified at virtually every public hearing remotely related to freeway expansion and decongestion pricing over the past year, and will continue to do so in 2019. A special thanks to PPS Board Member Paul Anthony, who testified to Portland City Council about the impact this project would have on Harriet Tubman Middle School (photo below by BikePortland).
Photo Caption: Image of PPS Board Member Paul Anthony speaking at Portland City Council hearing, with the quote "So the district and its board is risking the education of thousands 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."
8: We hosted a Pedalpalooza ride!
Thanks to all who attended our Portland Freeway Revolt ride, and thanks to Portland State University professors Aaron Golub and Sy Adler for the history lecture! We had over sixty riders join us as we visited Piccolo Park, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and Harriet Tubman Middle School to talk about Portland’s history of fighting freeways.
9: Our “Candid” look at why TriMet needs transportation governance reform

Image shows a light rail moving through the N Albina train station“Any transportation investment that doesn’t start with the explicit intention to chip away at automobile use as the primary method to access jobs, education, and shopping has significant consequences for a planet with literal melting ice caps, a region with worsening congestion, and a city ostensibly committed to equity. Perpetuating the continued necessity of automobile ownership is especially unhelpful to the growing number of people in our region who are unable to own or operate a car due to age, (dis)ability, citizenship, or cost. With our changing (and aging) demographics, the number of Oregonians in these categories will only increase (to say nothing about waning consumer preference or the rise of autonomous vehicles).”

BikePortland.org was generous enough to publish our twopart series examining why TriMet’s executives and top brass supported freeway expansions which are directly antithetical to their mission of providing excellent transit service throughout the region.

10: We’ve geared up to submit public comment on ODOT’s Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion 

Photo Caption: A bunch of bus riders on the 44.This spring, we partnered with Audubon Society of Portland and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon to send a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We asked ODOT to explain why they chose to pursue a truncated “Environmental Assessment” (EA) for the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion instead of a more thorough “Environmental Impact Statement.”

This November, we asked for an extension of the public comment period to make sure community groups have enough time to review all of ODOT’s information about the freeway expansion proposal and provide meaningful community response. We still haven’t heard anything, which is pretty discouraging. But even if ODOT refuses to give the community more than roughly eighteen business days to review hundreds of pages of materials and provide testimony, we’ll be ready.

11: Y’all showed up. 

This whole campaign is supported through an enormous web of volunteers and donors. We’ve got over 1000 signatures in support of our positions for decongestion pricing and eliminating freeway expansion over the past year, and had great turnout at numerous events we hosted throughout the year. We’re eternally grateful for your support – get ready to turn up for the public comment period this spring. ❤

Where we’re going in 2019

1) Public Comment – In the next few weeks, ODOT will officially open the public comment period for their Environmental Assessment on the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion project. We’ll be politely reminding you to please submit testimony and get on the record with your concerns about the air quality, congestion, and carbon-related impacts of this project, and also asking you to bug your friends to get them on the record as well. You can help your friends sign up for our mailing list HERE.2) 2020 Transportation Bond – Over the next twelve months, Metro Councilors will be debating the finer policy details of what is expected to be a large, transformative transportation bond for the entire Portland region on the ballot in 2020. We’ll be working closely with newly elected Metro Councilors (and new Metro President Lynn Peterson) to encourage Metro to invest as much as possible into transit and avoiding wasting money on ODOT’s proposed freeway expansions.

We Need Money.

We’ve raised over $8,500 from community members to help us prepare for our freeway revolt shenanigans in 2019. We need another $2,000 to ensure we’ve got enough to pay for all of the anti-freeway buttons and stickers, social media ads, and legal fees necessary to mount a serious challenge in the Environmental Assessment. If you have the means to support us and would like a button mailed to you, please donate?

Requesting an Extension of the Freeway Expansion Public Comment Period

 

Request for Extension for Public Comment Period

Today, the No More Freeway Expansions Coalition sent a letter to the Oregon Department of Transportation asking for an extension of the public comment period for the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion. Our letter was cosigned by two elected officials, fifteen community advocacy organizations, ten small business owners and two neighborhood associations. Our coalition requests that ODOT extend the public comment period by sixty days (from ODOT’s proposed thirty days to our request for ninety), ensuring our community partners have enough time to reveal the details of this proposal and provide meaningful input. As we write in our letter:

With a price-tag of nearly half a billion dollars, significant concerns about existing levels of ambient air pollution in the immediate vicinity of a recently reopened middle school, and independent concerns about project efficacy, it is essential that every organization is given ample opportunity to review ODOT’s proposal. We are requesting a 60-day extension, and an opportunity for community members to deliver oral testimony in a public hearing. Anything less would represent a failure of civic commitment to democratic principles to allow the community to appropriately understand ODOT’s project in their neighborhood.

The Public Comment period is slated to begin in late January 2019. Stay tuned – this will be a critical opportunity for community members to express their concerns about traffic congestion, climate change, and air quality in regards to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion.

A Good Election for Portland’s Transportation Advocates

  • Jo Ann Hardesty won a landslide election to become Portland’s first black woman elected to Portland City Council. Hardesty joined our campaign to oppose the freeway expansion over a year ago, and she’s the first Portland City Councilor to be elected who has explicitly stated her opposition to the freeway widening project.
  • In Washington County, Kathryn Harrington won her campaign for County Chair. She’s been an excellent advocate for multimodal transportation investments throughout her tenure as Metro Councilor for the past eight years, and she defeated a candidate who questioned climate change and wanted to exclusively build more roads across Washington County.
  • Rep Julie Parrish, known most famously in our circles for her attempts to stymie ODOT’s decongestion pricing initiative through a statewide ballot measure campaign, *lost* her reelection bid.
  • Rep Richard Vial also lost his reelection campaign. In transportation policy circles, Rep. Vial is most famous for his dogged pursuit of the “Westside Bypass,” a multi-billion dollar freeway project mirroring I-205 with a similar project from Wilsonville to Clark County via Hillsboro.
  • Portland’s Clean Energy Fund passed – the measure won overwhelmingly, and was supported by numerous organizations that are also members of the No More Freeway Expansions coalition. Regional voters also approved Metro’s housing bond, which passed in all three counties.

Obligatory “We Still Need You To Chip In a Few Bucks” Reminder

We’ve got big plans for 2019, but our grassroots coalition needs your help. We’re committed to raising $10,000 by the end of the year to prepare for next year’s antics for the No More Freeway Expansions campaign. Thanks to donors like you (with donations as small as $5 and as big as $1500) we’ve been able to pass the halfway mark in our fundraising schemes.

Thanks to our pals at Portland Transport, donations to our campaign to help us stop this freeway expansion are now tax deductible. Make a donation and we’ll mail you a button, as well as one of our new stickers that are just on their way to print.

Click HERE to help us gear up for our freeway fight this winter.