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.

No More Freeways reminds you to please vote by Tuesday

GET READY TO TAKE ACTION THIS FALL.

Greetings from the No More Freeway Expansions campaign! We hope this finds you well. We apologize for our radio silence over the past few months – we assure you that we’ve been busy behind the scenes having conversations with elected officials, reaching out to new and existing community partners to solicit further endorsements for our cause, and building grassroots power throughout the Portland Metro region to ask our elected officials to rethink the necessity of spending billions of dollars on freeway expansions that are counterproductive to our goals to reduce traffic congestion, carbon emissions, and air pollution.

Planners at ODOT working on the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion project have told us that the Public Comment period will open sometime in November. This will be a crucial moment for us to demonstrate the breadth and overwhelming support for our campaign to stand up and fight for a future in which we spend money on transit, biking and walking options instead of a freeway expansion next to a middle school.

Stay tuned for more information about how you can weigh in and make sure your voice is heard in opposition to this expensive, careless project. We’re gonna need your help. 

PLEASE VOTE.

Did you know that there’s an election next week? No More Freeway Expansions is not an explicitly political entity (we’re not a legally organized entity of any sort, honestly), and we’re not here to make any endorsements of any candidates. We encourage you to read up on your elected officials and support those that intend to govern as though climate change might destroy human civilization within ten years without immediate action, and those that believe in supporting community-led initiatives for an equitable, sustainable, healthier future.

image caption: no more freeways logo with text "vote."LOCAL BALLOT INITIATIVES
Many of the environmental, public health and social justice organizations who have worked with us closely to support the freeway fight have been working tirelessly to pass the Portland Clean Energy Initiative fund. Learn more about Measure 26-201 at the campaign website.

LOCAL CANDIDATE ELECTIONS
Last May, we sent all of the candidates for Portland’s City Council a Questionnaire about their positions on the freeway expansion and on transportation investments.

Jo Ann Hardesty was the first candidate for the city council position to speak her opposition to the freeway expansion, and Hardesty gave thoughtful answers about transportation justice in Portland in our questionnaire. Her opposition to the freeway expansion project was cited by Willamette Week’s endorsement as proof of Hardesty’s values “align[ing] more closely with those of the people of Portland.”

Hardesty’s opponent, Loretta Smith was the only candidate who didn’t fill out our questionnaire despite numerous attempts on our behalf to reach out to her campaign. On her website, she lists herself as a supporter of the project, and dodged the question during the transportation candidate forum held before the May primary. Out of the six candidates who filed for the open council seat, Smith was the only candidate who supported the project.

HOW TO VOTE
It’s too late to mail in your ballot. You can drop off your ballot at any Multnomah County Library, or at one of the other numerous local ballot drop sites across the state.

BALLOTS ARE DUE BY 8PM ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6th. GO VOTE.

Image shows No More Freeways logo, text saying "It's 2018. Let's fight freeway expansion. Donate Today."

DONATIONS ARE NOW TAX DEDUCTIBLE

Image shows No More Freeway buttonsThanks 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. We have a goal of raising $10,000 in the next month to gear up for our big fight, and we’re hoping for $3,000 to come from grassroots supporters. Can you throw a couple bucks our way?

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.