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

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

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

The Oregon Transportation Commission is Coming to Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to all who came on our Pedalpalooza Ride!

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

 

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

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

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

Image encourages reader to sign our decongestion pricing letter.

Have you chimed in for Decongestion Pricing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEDALPALOOZA: COME LEARN ABOUT FREEWAY REVOLTS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER.

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

The No More Freeway Expansions Questionnaire for Portland City Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcasts, Radio, and some other good news

Thanks to the Sprocket Podcast for hosting us!

Registered to Vote?

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

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

Please send money.

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

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

Thanks.

 

FOIA, TriMet Reform, OPAL and more!

FOIA’D.

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

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

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

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

How We Get There Matters.

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

Active Transportation City Council Event

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

 

Next Event-Planning Meeting:
Thursday March 28

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

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

 

We Need Money.

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

ODOT’s Value Pricing Open House Closes Today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Meeting: Feb 22

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

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!