ODOT cancels I-205 expansion, RQ finances looking pretty dire- thanks to you.
First, the big news – holy smokes, ODOT just cancelled one freeway expansion and all-but-cancelled the Rose Quarter. As reported in The Oregonian and The Portland Mercury, in late June at the request of Governor Kotek the Oregon Department of Transportation released a finance plan that explained what we knew all along – ODOT simply doesn’t have the money for these monstrously expensive freeway expansions. The finance report noted that the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion is now expected to cost $1.9 BILLION (originally billed as $450 million in 2017) and noted that they have no forseeable plan to raise that revenue.
We continue to share this news with the federal government, hoping that they will deny ODOT a Finding of No Significant Impact and require the agency to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement that studies alternatives to expansion.This, uh, is spectacular news. To quote No More Freeways co-founder Chris Smith:
“No More Freeways is delighted to learn that the Oregon Department of Transportation proposes indefinitely postponing expansion of Interstate 205 even as the agency acknowledges they simply do not have a path forward to fund the now $1.9 billion Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion. These are both massive victories for any Oregonian who enjoys clean air, safer streets, a hospitable planet, and fiscal responsibility from their state government. Now more than ever, No More Freeways continues to insist that ODOT conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion that studies alternatives to expensive freeway expansion that reduce congestion while bringing clean air and justice to the Albina neighborhood.”
This is a cause for celebration! Which brings us to….
Celebrate our sixth birthday with Sunrise PDX on 8/31
It was six years ago this July that Chris Smith convened a dozen of us at a brewpub to discuss how to fight the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, which had just received $450 million in funding from the state legislature the month previous. An awful lot has happened since then – 2 lawsuits (and counting), multiple rallies, a yearlong youth climate strike, thousands of public comments, coverage in national media, over $110 million in funding from ODOT to consultants and highway lobbyists, and more hours of hearings and committee meetings than we care to count. We have *so* much to celebrate – and Sunrise PDX is throwing us a birthday party to reflect on our victories and discuss what lies ahead for officially killing the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and directing our state to invest in transit, biking and walking instead of more lanes of polluting, costly freeways. We’re so grateful for the year long Youth Vs ODOT climate protests which garnered national headlines and put more pressure on elected officials to give more scrutiny to our state’s transportation department. Join us on August 31 at Laurelhurst Park (please note the new location!) – Representative Khanh Pham will be there to celebrate with us as well! and cake. We’ll have some delicious cake.
Sunrise PDX celebrates No More Freeways’ Sixth Birthday Party
Thursday August 31st
Laurelhurst Park – Picnic Area “A” (on the eastside of the park near SE 35th and Oak) Stay tuned for more information on a pedalpalooza ride to the event as well!
Speaking of Representative Khanh Pham….
Rep Pham’s BikePortland op-ed shows opportunities for 2025
“I’m heartened by the growing consensus I’m hearing from legislators and Oregonians alike across the state that this status quo is untenable, and it’s time to prioritize addressing these problems for the health and well-being of both our communities and the economy.” – Rep Khanh Pham
We were honored to get a shoutout in Rep Khanh Pham’s op-ed in BikePortland last month. Her piece highlights the successes that transportation advocates have won through advocacy, organizing and engagement in the state legislature. Go read it!
Joe Cortright eviscerates the IBR, legislature in the Oregonian this week
“In future years, when the climate crisis is getting worse, when ODOT’s budget is in worse shape, when we don’t have enough money in the general fund to pay for schools and other public services, when there isn’t money to deal with orphan highways and deadly roads that kill cyclists and pedestrians, when we’re cutting public transit service, when pavement is deteriorating, you’ll be able to look back and see one decision that made all of these problems worse: the Legislature’s 11th-hour backroom deal to squander a billion dollars-plus in general funds on the Interstate Bridge Replacement.” – Joe Cortright
Oooof. Go read it yourself.
Action Alert! Tell Metro: No More Freeways in the Regional Transportation Plan
The Regional Transportation Plan is an important document – and we need your help telling Metro to stop planning to fail to meet our goals for climate and traffic safety. No More Freeways submitted our own letter with specific policy recommendations on how to lower carbon emissions and eliminate traffic fatalities (while our current system is doing the literal opposite, with deadly consequences) – but we need your help to make sure elected officials understand that their constituents are demanding bold change. We can make all of the investments in a greener, healthier future with the billions of dollars saved by not widening freeways. We shouldn’t build more freeways, and our planning documents shouldn’t continue to plan for building more freeways, either.
Join No More Freeways in submitting written comment – the deadline is August 25. Go submit comment now so we don’t have to remind you again!
Invest in a future with No More Freeways
As you can see, we’ve been awfully busy – on our shoestring budget, No More Freeways and our partners have been able to stymie the multi-billion dollar freeway industrial complex. Despite already spending $110 million on planning and propaganda for the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, ODOT is running out of options to find a way to convince policymakers that their horrible freeway expansion is worth the massive billion dollar price tags they bring. With skyrocketing traffic fatalities and 40% of Oregon’s carbon emissions from transportation, reallocating our transportation funding away from toxic, polluting freeways towards healthier, sustainable, equitable investments in transit, maintenance and street safety has never been more urgent.
Can you chip in a couple bucks to help us cover the cost of our birthday party? Maybe you’ve got more than a couple bucks that you can spend to help us cover the cost of our excellent lawyers? Whether you donate $15, $50, $500 or $1500, every dollar goes towards our labor of love to imagine a future with No More Freeways. Plus, we’ll mail you a card and a button. We’re fiscally sponsored by 501c(3) Portland Transport, so your donations are tax deductible. Thank you so much for your support.