Latest Updates

SEE YOU TOMORROW?

ODOT ACCOUNTABILITY RALLY

Tuesday, December 10, 4-6pm 
Oregon Department of Transportation, Region 1 HQ
123 NW Flanders St 
(accessible via Old Town/Chinatown Red/Blue MAX Station, 4 8 16 35 44 77 bus lines)
Spread the word on facebook – invite your friends!

There’s a new director of a multibillion dollar state agency that
oversees the sector of Oregon’s economy that contributes 40% of the entire state’s carbon emissions. As reported by Willamette Week and BikePortland last week, the new director of the Oregon Department of Transportation appears willing to make statements in direct contradiction to decades of empirical research in order to continue the agency’s desire to widen freeways and perpetuate car-dependency for Oregonians living across the state.

image shows Joe Cortright, testifying at an OTC meeting this summer.

As our pal Joe Cortright wrote over at City Observatory last week:

ODOT Director Kris Strickler makes a phony claim that we can fight climate change by reducing traffic idling in congestion. The only feasible way to reduce congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to work to lower vehicle miles of travel. Unfortunately, that one proven strategy is one that ODOT has done nothing to consider or seriously explore.

click here to head to NMF website

Make no mistake: telling ODOT to knock it off with the billions of dollars for freeway expansions is nothing short of necessary if this state is serious about living up to our progressive environmental bonafides and actually doing something about carbon emissions. There are five hundred million other reasons to oppose this project, but at it’s fundamental core: we cannot build the Green New Deal without retiring the Grey Old Deal. And ODOT’s plans to spend half a billion bucks to widen a freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School, where the air pollution from the existing freeway is already so bad that students forgo outdoor recess, is exactly the environmental injustice that we need to leave behind as a shameful relic of the twentieth century.

We’re showing up at ODOT’s front door with the city’s most prominent youth climate justice advocates to ask for just that on Tuesday, rain or shine, and y’all should join.

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ODOT RALLY
Tuesday, December 10, 4-6pm
 
Oregon Department of Transportation, Region 1 HQ
123 NW Flanders St 
(accessible via Old Town/Chinatown Red/Blue MAX Station, 4 8 16 35 44 77 bus lines)
Spread the word on facebook – invite your friends!

We have one week to sway the OTC. 200+ Oregonians have chimed in.
Will you join us?

Click here to visit our website and send the OTC and ODOT an email demanding an Environmental Impact Statement.

Can’t make our rally? that’s okay – you can still help us demand that ODOT conduct an Environmental Impact Statement for their proposed $500 million Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion. We’ve got a link on our website where you can join hundreds of Oregonians who have already submitted their comments directly to the Oregon Transportation Commission, the office of Governor Kate Brown, and to ODOT themselves demanding that they conduct a full study of the health, safety, climate, congestion and air pollution implications of this $500 million freeway expansion into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School. 

Comments need to be received by December 15, in advance of the OTC’s hearing on December 17 – the sooner the better. We’ve got talking points provided for you on our website; please spend five minutes letting your government know what you think about expanding freeways given all we know about climate change, induced demand, and air pollution in 2019.  Visit our website and learn more about how you can contact your legislator and go on the record asking for more a more thorough study to be conducted on this proposal.

Please share our content on social media, too – the more we spread the word and ask our friends, neighbors, and colleagues to write in, the better chance we’ll have of convincing our elected officials to stand up for cleaner air, climate justice and responsible transportation investments. Find us on facebook and twitter!

🗞️ news roundup! 🗞️ 

Support the Rose Lane Project

 Also of note: Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and the Portland Bureau of Transportation recently rolled out one of the most ambitious proposals for climate- and transportation- justice that we’ve seen in local government in decades. The Rose Lane Project, if implemented to its full potential, would be downright transformative in making transit a more frequent, reliable, accessible option for a greater number of Portlanders’ trips across town. We heartily encourage NMF enthusiasts to check out the PBOT page about the campaign and take PBOT’s survey.  

 

NO BUT REALLY: See you tomorrow.

We’ve got an amazing speaker list, a ton of beautiful art put together by Sunrise PDX, and a chance to shout directly to ODOT that we won’t sit idly by as they widen freeways and squander the future of the next generation of Oregonians. The oceans are rising, so are we.

Holy Smokes, We Won Round One!

This month marks the second birthday of our campaign to stop the $500 Million Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, and we are excited to share with you some pretty good news:
Victory goes to the good guys for Round One.

Image shows screenshot of recent Willamette Week article.According to a Willamette Week article published Tuesdaythe Oregon Department of Transportation is “prepared to conduct a full-blown environmental impact study for the project,” instead of the Environmental Assessment the agency produced this past February.

Holy smokes, this is massive.

We are delighted to learn that the Oregon Department of Transportation has conceded that their freeway expansion as proposed did not meet the standards expected by thousands of local community members and civic institutions.

First things first: Thank You.

button says "2000+ comment submitted to ODOT!"We’re *so* grateful for the 2000+ public comments that everyday Portlanders sent in to oppose this $500 million Freeway Expansion. You can read the thousands of comments on ODOT’s Project website (they published them after we threatened to FOIA the agency for the comments), where 90% of what they received was in opposition to the project. You can read our blog archives to see all the news coverage where opposition “dominated” ODOT’s March public hearing, and you can also see the highlights sent in by our community partners on the NMF Public Comment Page.

We also thank Portland Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, Portland Public Schools, Metro, and the Albina Vision Trust in particular for their leadership in demanding ODOT conduct a more rigorous study of the impacts this freeway expansion will have on the air we breathe, the traffic we sit in, and the rising oceans on our warming planet. These entities each wrote thoughtful, nuanced critiques of the project that ODOT had proposed and demanded that the agency address numerous critical concerns that the community raised regarding the impacts to traffic, carbon emissions, air pollution and environmental justice. This is leadership, and we are so grateful.

Photo shows community members testifying in opposition to ODOT's Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion at their public hearing last March. What’s Next: Given the considerable role our grassroots initiative played in ensuring the local community was properly informed about this project, we expect and look forward to ODOT working with No More Freeways as a crucial community stakeholder in this project as they establish the parameters of this Environmental Impact Statement. We intend to make recommendations of how ODOT and PBOT can fully comply with the letter and intent of the National Environmental Policy Act and use the EIS process to more fully and fairly assess alternatives to freeway expansion that (unlike ODOT’s current proposal) will actually address carbon emissions, air pollution, traffic congestion, and provide restorative justice to the Albina community.

Stay tuned. We’re just getting started. But holy smokes, we won the first round of our freeway fight.


It’s Been a Hot Anti-Freeway Summer

Since we haven’t sent out an update in a hot minute, we figured that, in addition to our exciting news about the EIS, we’d also provide a couple snippets as to what No More Freeways has been up to this summer. Buckle Up!


📻 NMF Visits OPB 🎙️

image shows Aaron Brown at OPB's studios

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s signature program, Think Out Loud, has been running a series of interviews reflecting perspectives on I-5. NMF’s Aaron Brown was invited on last month, and used his 15 minutes of fame to eviscerate ODOT’s boondoggle, speak about the moral imperative to divest from fossil fuel infrastructure like freeways, and explain No More Freeways’ support for the intentions of the Albina Vision Trust. If you haven’t heard it, it’s the best 15-minute run down of our campaign we’ve produced to date. Thanks to OPB for the invite!

This month, OPB’s Think Out Loud hosted Harriet Tubman Eighth Grader Malina Yuen and PPS Board Member Scott Bailey to discuss their thoughts about ODOT’s Freeway Expansion and the possible impact to Tubman Middle School. You can listen to their segment here: A few weeks previous, OPB brought on Michael Alexander to discuss the Albina Vision.

Sunrise Movement take to Metro’s #getmoving2020 task force

No More Freeways has been working with the Portland Chapter of the Sunrise Movement and students from Harriet Tubman Middle School to testify at Metro’s Transportation Task Force. The regional government has convened an advisory committee to make recommendations for the 2020 Transportation Package, and youth climate advocates have been showing up to demand that the package doesn’t include freeway expansions or additional road capacity. We’ve also been showing up for our pals with OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, who this summer launched their #UpWithRiders campaign (check out their video!)

You can read coverage of Sunrise youth’s testimony in BikePortland.org, and watch the Tubman students’ testimony on Youtube. We’ll be continuing to track the T2020 conversation; we’ve been livetweeting the #getmoving2020 hearings.

Image shows light display, projecting "Climate Leaders Don't Widen Freeways" onto ODOT's downtown Portland Headquarters

NMF Letter to OTC:
Future generations depend on a climate-smart hire for next ODOT director

“There’s no getting around this crucial fact – the decision of who to hire for the next head of ODOT is arguably the most carbon-consequential decision that the OTC will make in this young century.”

ODOT is currently in the final stages of hiring the next director of the agency (Willamette Week wrote about this yesterday). This process is being undertaken by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC), who oversees ODOT (it’s the entity that we testified in front of this past spring). We submitted a letter last Mayarticulating the urgency that the next director of ODOT be ready to steer the statewide agency towards increased collaboration with municipal partners, prioritizing decarbonization initiatives by promoting infrastructure investments to reduce Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT), and stopping build all these damn freeways.

You can read our full letter here.

National Publication calls ODOT’s Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion
“Highway Boondoggle” 

Image shows front cover of OSPIRG's "Highway Boondoggles 5" report.

US PIRG’s “Highway Boondoggles 5” lists the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion as one of the top nine terrible freeway expansions in the country. Yikes!
This report is especially helpful in articulating what we’ve been saying for years – there is a freeway industrial complex running amok in our state and federal governments. These projects are directly antithetical to any meaningful attempts at carbon reduction, improved air quality, or traffic congestion improvement, but there are just too many contractors and construction firms eager for untold billions of dollars of infrastructure investment, and too many politicians willing to go along for the ride.

You can read their full report here, and local coverage of their report in the Portland Mercury and the Oregonian.

Sunrise Movement Hosts Sit-in at Mayor Wheeler’s Office, Demanding End to Freeway Expansion

Image shows Sunrise Movement PDX Youth holding signs in a sit-in at Mayor Wheeler's office, demanding "No Freeway Expansions"
Image shows large demonstration in park outside of City Hall in support of Sunrise PDX and Extinction Rebellion
This June, while numerous environmental organizations staged a protest with hundreds of Portlanders outside City Hall, members of Sunrise Movement PDX held a sit in at Mayor Wheeler’s office. The youth climate advocates demanded that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a climate emergency, stop the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, and Stop the Zenith Oil Terminal Expansion. We are thrilled to see youth climate advocates make the connection between ODOT’s freeway expansions and the likelihood of Oregon hitting our carbon targets, and will continue to support Sunrise PDX in their efforts in the months ahead. (Meanwhile, months later, Mayor Wheeler’s office still hasn’t responded to their request for a meeting).
The kids are alright.

ELECTION SEASON IS SOMEHOW ONCE AGAIN UNDERWAY

In less than nine months, Portland voters will have the chance to vote in the May 2020 primary for two city councilors, the mayoralship, as well as numerous other seats at Metro and the Oregon Legislature. We’ll send out a questionnaire next spring to everyone who runs for local office – it’s entirely possible that a majority of Portland’s five-person city council could be opposed to the project in 2021.
Image shows Sarah Iannarone speaking at her campaign kickoff.
We’re staunchly avoiding endorsements, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that Sarah Iannarone, who has been on our side for years, has thrown her hat in the race for Portland’s Mayor. Credit where it’s due – she’s testified multiple times against the project, submitted detailed public comment to the EA, and even coined the #NOI5RQX hashtag at that fateful March hearing.We look forward to hearing from all candidates running for local office about their views on ODOT’s boondoggle and how they’ll work with community groups to stop this project as elected officials. We hope to uplift the voices of any candidate that agrees that climate leaders shouldn’t widen freeways. Are you running for office and want to talk to No More Freeways? Please get in touch!

Portland Forward hosts NMF, 350PDX, OPAL to talk transportation

Image shows NMF's Aaron Brown speaking at the Portland Forward Transportation Event this summer. Thanks to Portland Forward for hosting us! We enjoyed hearing from Jesse Maran and Orlando Lopez to talk about Metro’s 2020 Transportation Package, how we can decarbonize our transportation system, and all the ways we’ve been organizing against the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion.

Legislative Session Wrap Up

Image shows students from Harriet Tubman Middle School protesting diesel engines on the Flint Avenue bridge near the Rose Quarter Freeway.
No More Freeways helped garner support for a handful of transportation justice related initiatives down in Salem during the end of the legislative session this summer! We were proud to wrangle support for:
  • HB 2007, which created the second strongest diesel engine regulations in the country (students from Harriet Tubman Middle School, above, testified in support of this in March);
  • HB 2015, which allowed all Oregonians regardless of citizenship status to obtain drivers’ licenses;
  • HB 2001, a first-of-its-kind legislation which legalized missing middle housing to create necessary housing density.
  • ..and we OPPOSED HB 3023-A, which would have given Uber and Lyft sweetheart deals to avoid local regulation on TNCs.
Big thanks and gratitude to our legislative partners including Oregon Environmental Council, Neighbors for Clean Air, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon, Causa Oregon, Sightline Institute, and 1000 Friends of Oregon for getting these important bills passed. We’ll be keeping an eye on freeway-related legislation during the 2020 short session, and we’ll be sure to let you know when we need folks to travel to Salem next January and come talk to legislators about ODOT’s boondoggles.
Donate to NMF and We’ll Mail You Stickers For your Favorite Bus Stop or Bike Rack
Look at all the progress we’ve made this summer! All of this is due to the elbow grease of hundreds of committed community members fighting for environmental justice, cleaner air, a viable climate for future generations, and healthier transportation options in the neighborhood. If that doesn’t inspire you to donate a couple bucks so we can keep up with our spitball shootin’, I know what will: our wonderful new stickers. Donate and we’ll mail you a bunch to stick on bike racks, bus stops, and outside the offices of any elected official still thinking about freeway expansion in 2019.

We’re blessed and oh-so-grateful for your help. Together, we can stop this dumb freeway.

ACTION ALERT: CHECK OUT THE NMF SINE DIE CHEAT SHEET

Hello folks! We’ve been awfully busy for the last two months (we helped some Harriet Tubman middle school students to testify at Oregon Metro’s Task Force Hearing, crashed an American Society of Civil Engineers’ meeting to gawk at the Freeway Industrial Complex, and joined some Sunrise Movement PDX youth as they staged a sit-in at Mayor Wheeler’s office in City Hall). We’ve got all sorts of shenanigans up our sleeves in the months ahead; every bit of evidence suggests ODOT intends to continue lurching forward with spending untold hundreds of millions on this fossil-fuel infrastructure that will give more kids asthma and won’t even solve congestion.

In the meantime, though, if you thought ODOT was dysfunctional, incompetent and felicitous with the truth, have you heard what has been going on in Salem

The Republicans have finally returned from their vacation in Idaho, content to pass the bare minimum legislation possible that democratic supermajorities have moved through countless committees and votes, and have been passed by the Oregon House of Representatives. The following pieces of legislation are sitting in the Senate ready for a vote. Unfortunately, the legislative session ends on Sunday, and inevitably they will have to pick and choose which pieces of legislation to prioritize.

The good news is: you can email your legislators *today* and demand that we move forward with any and all of the following bills. Whether you’ve emailed and called your legislator a dozen times or don’t even know who your legislator is, please drop them a line at your earliest convenience, for any and all of the following legislative initiatives for housing, climate, and transportation justice:

VOTE YES ON HB 2015: Drivers licenses for all. No More Freeways stands in solidarity with Causa Oregon and PCUN for transportation justice for all Oregonians, regardless of citizenship status, because we’re not racist assholes. Contact your legislator here.

DSC_0448
VOTE YES ON HOUSE BILL 2007: Clean up Dirty Diesel. The Oregon Trucking Association is vigorously fighting a bill that would require truckers to stop using the most outdated, unhealthy diesel engines. Diesel is connected to an outrageous litany of adverse public health impacts, and the victims are too often low-income and communities of color near freeways (like our students at Harriet Tubman Middle School). You can read Timber Jim’s testimony and email your legislator here:
VOTE YES ON HB 2001: Missing Middle Housing. Legalizing duplexes and triplex in the urban core of Oregon’s cities means more homes for families in dense, walkable communities. The bill would be transformative for lowering neighborhood carbon emissions, providing more housing affordability and opportunities for Oregonians to enjoy low-car life.

VOTE ON HB 2020 It was 115 degrees in France today. The headlines out of the arctic are astonishing. The oceans are rising. NMF acknowledges the numerous good-faith critiques from environmental justice communities about cap and trade, but the bill has a lot of great details worth reading about in full, including language that would help discourage new revenue from being spent on new freeways. 

 

Each of these bills have passed through numerous committees, and are just sitting, waiting for the Senate Republicans to return to vote. Call/email legislators to demand we can’t wait another two years. Don’t know who your legislator is? Look ’em up.

Even if your legislator is a rock star and supports all of these, they deserve a note of appreciation for their diligence and public service during a miserably grim, dark time for Oregon democracy.

And while you’re at it, you can tell them: no more freeways.

2000+ Letters to ODOT

Greetings, fellow freeway rabblerouser! We’ve been awfully busy in the last two months. Here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to, where we’re heading, and how you can help us stop the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion. We haven’t emailed you in a while, so we have quite a few updates.

TLDR: The public comment went great, we’re testifying at committees across the state, we’re building grassroots power and momentum to stop this freeway, and if you want to help you can buy a button at the bottom of this post!

Resounding Opposition to Rose Quarter Freeway in Public Comment Period.
Will ODOT listen?

image includes NMF logo and text stating we received 2000+ comments on the public comment period

First, let’s give ourselves a pat on the back for the overwhelming turnout we got for the entire public comment period. Freeway opponents dominated the public hearing event in March, and followed that up with submitting over 2000 public comments to ODOT before the April 1st deadline. We have a round-up of dozens of letters from prominent community leaders on our public comment page of our website – here’s a selection of some of our favorite letters submitted:

“We ask that ODOT undertake a more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement to study the impact that implementation of value pricing could have on carbon emissions, air pollution and traffic congestion before moving forward with plans to expand the Rose Quarter Freeway. This position is wholly consistent with our years of advocacy and engagement with the state legislature to pass HB 2017 – implementation of value pricing should inform how ODOT moves forward with the Rose Quarter. There are simply too many significant impacts to the local community to not prioritize studying value pricing and understanding its impacts to traffic patterns before moving forward with a $500 million freeway expansion.” – Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Climate Solutions, Center for Sustainable Economy, and Sierra Club – Oregon Chapter

“The EA states (section 3.2.2) that the project does not create new capacity or add substantial capacity to I-5. This statement is not objectively true and is potentially misleading; auxiliary lanes clearly add capacity” – Oregon Metro

Photo shows Harriet Tubman Middle School right next to the Rose Quarter Freeway“We find it unjust to ask current and future Tubman students to pay decades of bonding debt to pay for this project, as well as pay for the enormous costs of the additional carbon in the atmosphere and air pollutants in the neighborhood. As parents, citizens, community members, students, and Portlanders, we state our firm opposition to ODOT’s Rose Quarter freeway widening proposal.” – Parents from Harriet Tubman PTSA

“Given the large and growing role of transportation in the State’s GHG emissions, the mandate to decrease emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, the inadequacy of the EA, and the history of damage to the adjacent communities inflicted by the freeway, it is the position of 350PDX that ODOT should not move forward with the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway widening project based on the Environmental Assessment and should instead complete a full Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the effects of the project.” – 350 PDX

image shows Business for Better Portland's logo“Given the legacy of institutional racism in Portland and how it has manifested in the location of this project, it is imperative that our leaders act with respect, courage and integrity. We are calling on leaders to tap the brakes on this project and ensure $500 million in taxpayer funds are thoughtfully invested in projects that deliver community benefit while paying more than lip service to equity.” – Business for a Better Portland

“Portland has long been known for its bike- and pedestrian-friendly allure and strong transit grid, and we know we must do more in order to preserve Oregon’s cherished natural beauty and livability. In light of the dire IPCC report issued last year, I believe we must be scrutinizing each major initiative and doing all we can, as fast as we can, to ensure a livable planet for our future generations.” – Oregon Representative Karin Power (District 41)

“The Oregon Department of Transportation is an emperor wearing no clothes, If we have any meaningful commitment to alleviating gridlock and congestion, eradicating the senseless violence of traffic fatalities, improving air quality so school doesn’t make kids sick, restoring a neighborhood scarred by the worst racist impulses of our forefathers, or tackling climate change for current and future generations, this project must be abandoned. The Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion mega project has no place in our community.”

– No More Freeways submitted our own official letter, as well as a Technical Traffic Analysis debunking ODOT’s findings and this Legal Memo that details all of the points in which ODOT’s public comment process did not follow the NEPA process.

We encourage you to check out the Public Comment page of our website, which includes these and numerous other letters, including those from the Audubon Society of PortlandEliot Neighborhood AssociationCommunity Cycling CenterCity of Portland Commissioner Chloe EudalyAlbina Vision TrustPortland Planning and Sustainability Commission, and BikeLoudPDX.

What’s next for the RQ Freeway?

image shows NMF logo, text ODOT is now tasked with responding to each and every single one of the 2000 comments that we sent in to the public comment period. We are hopeful that the dozens of prominent community advocates and thousands of Oregonians who testified and wrote letters to point out the egregious flaws in ODOT’s traffic projections will help prod the agency to redesign or reconsider this project. It’s noteworthy the number of advocacy organizations, advisory committees, and citizens who have asked ODOT to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement – we hope the agency will honor these requests before proceeding with spending $500 million to expand a freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School when we as a planet have eleven years to tackle climate change.

According to a PBOT presentation at the Bureau Budget Advisory Committee this month, ODOT is expected to hear back from the Federal Highway Administration this “May/June” as to whether they have permission to proceed with their Environmental Assessment or if they will be asked to conduct the more thorough Environmental Impact Statement that all of our organizations requested.

TL, DR: We’re awaiting the federal government’s verdict on if ODOT can proceed with the project, and we expect to hear in the next few weeks. Our next steps in using the NEPA process to challenge this project depend on whether the federal government pushes ODOT to honor the community’s unequivocal voice of opposition to this expansion. Whatever happens, we’re ready to act (especially with your support – see the donation link at the bottom).

NMF road tripped to Salem to speak to the Oregon Transportation Commission.

The Oregon Transportation Commission is the Governor-appointed body that establishes state transportation policy. We weren’t sure if this governing body had been given accurate information from ODOT’s staff about how the agency had conducted themselves during this Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion debacle, so this month we took a quick trip to Salem to testify about the data misinformation, the overwhelming opposition to the project, the fierce, unapologetic necessity about urgently reconfiguring our transportation policy so that current and future Oregonians won’t have to grapple with a charred dystopian planet.

image shows Bob Sallinger of Portland Audubon Society testifying at OTC hearing
“[The Audubon Society of Portland was] deeply troubled by the Environmental Assessment. I work on a lot of EAs and EISs; its kind of what I do. For a project of this scale, complexity and cost, the EA was one of the weakest I’ve ever seen. It simply did not provide the kind of detail in order to assess the costs, benefits, the impacts, the alternatives that i would expect for a much smaller project, let alone something for a half a billion dollars.”

“The essence of democracy is transparency and honesty on the part of public servants. If we’re going to make good decisions we have to do it in an open honest and transparent way. in the case of the I5 Rose Quarter project, what’s happened hasn’t served the interests of the citizens of Oregon well. What ODOT has done is to suppress basic traffic data; they released an environmental assessment that contains no figures on average daily traffic, the most fundamental unit that you regularly use to measure traffic.”


“An Oregonian born today is likely to be alive in 2100. If we have 11 years to solve climate change, I hope that every single one of you on this Commission – and I’m not trying to be antagonistic, I’m asking and begging you, as the youngest person in this room that will remember this meeting 50 years from now – what did Chair Baney do, what did the Oregon Transportation Commission do when provided with these facts?”

Harriet Tubman Middle School’s Earth Day Demonstration

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The kids are alright.

Kudos to the students of Harriet Tubman Middle School in Mr. Scrutchion’s class who partnered with Neighbors for Clean Air to demonstrate in support of HB 2007 on the Flint Avenue overpass on Earth Day. Diesel is a carcinogen, a greenhouse gas, and has no place in our community and in our children’s lungs. We’re thrilled that the campaign to stop the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion is bringing transportation, climate, and clean air advocates together to cross-pollinate in our advocacies and build resilience against infrastructure that makes our community sick. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with the Tubman community in support of cleaner air and fewer lanes of freeway in their backyard.

More photos are available on BikePortland, and on the NMF Facebook page (which you should *like*, if you haven’t already).

10 public comments at Metro’s #GetMoving2020 task force. All 10 were about climate change. 

Photo shows Jesse Lopez of 350PDX giving testimony at a meeting of Metro's Task Force on the T2020 Transportation Package

The Metro Council is currently planning to refer a massive transportation funding package to the Portland Region on the November 2020 ballot. This enormous package is something that the No More Freeways campaign has been keeping an eye on for a while – this once-in-a-generation opportunity could be used to fully fund infrastructure that decarbonizes our transportation system effectively, or could direct billions of dollars to roads, highways and freeway projects guaranteeing that the greater Portland region meets none of our anti-congestion, anti-carbon emissions, anti-air pollution or anti-poverty initiatives. It’s a big deal!

After Metro President Lynn Peterson’s recent remarks at Portland City Club event suggesting that the 2020 bond might be split “50/50” between transit and road projects, we decided to swing by the Task Force meeting last week and testify. We’ve got twelve months to push heavily on the Metro Council and the numerous community groups on the Metro Task Force to urge them to make this package better for current and future generations by honoring our commitment to investments in a transportation system that addresses climate change, air pollution, fixing congestion, and traffic safety (hint: to do these things, we can’t build more freeways). Kudos to the representatives from Portland Forward, 350 PDX, OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon, The Street Trust, and others who testified and made it explicit: this regional package *must* be designed with climate justice and decarbonization as a top tier priority.

We’ll continue to monitor this committee – the next meeting is at 5:30 Wednesday, May 15 at Oregon Metro (600 NE Grand), and you’re encouraged to join us in attendance in the crowd.

Shoutout to the Community Partners

It takes a village (and numerous community partners) to stop a freeway. Here’s what some of our trusted allies are up to, and how you can support them:
Support Local Media: Shoutout to BikePortland.org and Willamette Week, each of whom have relentlessly covered our work over the past few months. Did you know you can donate money to each to keep these important media outlets afloat?
image shows invitation to Oregon Walks Membership PartyBecome a Member of Oregon Walks: Oregon Walks has a new Executive Director, and you should learn all about her at the upcoming Oregon Walks Membership Meeting. The event is on Thursday May 16.

Sign OPAL’s letter for government accountability and transparency: OPAL’s been tracking a particularly nefarious bill in the Oregon Legislature that would remove the ability for local jurisdictions to have much oversight or regulatory ability of TNCs like Uber and Lyft. Sign their letter (and help protect initiatives like the Clean Energy Fund while you’re at it!)

Fight Dirty Diesel: To learn more about HB 2007, which would create deadlines for removing the worst polluting diesel engines from Oregon’s streets, check out the Oregon Environmental Council’s webpage. Stay tuned – there will be opportunities to weigh in on this bill as it winds through the legislature in the weeks ahead.

A personal note: Aaron Brown’s testimony to ODOT, submitted 4:59pm, April 1st

For the past nineteen months (and especially for the past month and a half), I’ve spent an enormous amount of my own personal and professional time writing angry letters to ODOT. “Letters to ODOT” sounds like the name of some urban planner’s regrettable punk rock band they played bass in back in college, but it adequately assesses the general state of how I’ve spent much of 2019. I, along with literally hundreds of other community members, have been attending dozen of community meetings and watching ODOT’s staff speak demonstrable untruths with barely-concealed slights-of-hand, and spent many a rainy weekend pouring through egregiously depressing data about climate change, air pollution, traffic congestion, and traffic fatalities. Every bit of evidence furthers our case that this project highlights the urgency with which metropolitan America needs to retire the freeway industrial complex.

But instead, with my last five minutes before the public comment period closes, I want to write a quick love letter. A love letter to the dozens of parents I met at Tubman Middle School, figuring out how to build a PTSA that will stick up for their entire community and learn how to work together despite having students and families from enormously different backgrounds. A love letter to the individuals who have taken their personal trauma stemming from losing a loved one to senseless traffic violence and weaponized these unspeakable losses into voices that clamor for government agencies to be more vigilant in their investments to prevent future tragedies. A love letter to the youth who are increasingly organizing to take over the world and prevent the older generation from dooming us to climate apocalypse. A love letter to the hundreds of community members who have shown up to dig through ODOT’s public records and, frankly, out-hustle ODOT’s staff to point out the obvious clerical errors that you hoped to hide from public scrutiny. A love letter to the good community members and citizens who have stood up for freeway revolts in the past, present, and future of my hometown. A love letter to all who are working to understand the intersections of transportation, climate, social justice, white supremacy, the patriarchy, and are working to untangle all of these for a more verdant and sustainable future.

Thank you, ODOT, for giving me an excuse to wallow in the trenches for the past few months. Please kill this damn project.

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No Joke – Today’s the Deadline for Public Comment

Click the above image to head straight to our public comment page. We’ve got a plenty long email below, but seriously. Speak now or forever hold your peace. If you wanna help with this campaign whatsoever, we need you on the record, and it closes tonight at 5pm. So go get ’em.
Late this past Friday, BikePortland.org broke the news that the Albina Vision Trust was officially asking ODOT for an Environmental Impact Statement. In their letter, AVT states:

“Only remediation is remediation. It is not enough to listen to community concerns and document them. You need to take action that responds to what you heard, We understand that ODOT cannot completely undo the environmental impacts of the original l-5 construction; however, AVT believes the current RQIP is an opportunity to take a different approach….It is AVT’s position that the RQIP EA does not adequately address environmental impacts, including community, social and economic outcomes. Due to these deficiencies, the AVT is formally requesting ODOT conduct a full Environmental lmpact Statement (ElS), which is more comprehensive than the current EA to provide a better design, remediation and mitigation alternatives.”

Albina Vision Trust joins Portland Public Schools, members of the Harriet Tubman PTSA, The Street Trust, Oregon Walks,  Portland Bus Lane Project, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Safe Routes to School, the City’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committees, AORTA, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Center for Sustainable Economy, Portland Audubon Society, 350 PDX, Sierra Club’s Oregon Chapter, OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon, Neighbors for Clean Air the Eliot Neighborhood Association, and Irvington Community Association (among others) with letters on the public record explicitly asking ODOT to scrap their Environmental Assessment and conduct a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement that adequately addresses the public health, air pollution, transportation needs, traffic safety, and carbon emission concerns our campaign has been shouting about for the past month and a half.

Approximately 600+ comments have been submitted from individual community members opposing this project. Opposition to this campaign dominated this month’s public hearing, and with ODOT finally getting around to giving us some additional data and schematics, we’re finding all sorts of other glaring deficiencies with the design, including that it will encroach significantly on the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Today we’re submitting a legal document written with the assistance of some lawyers that highlights every single ODOT misstep in the NEPA process, and we’ve already submitted two years worth of newspaper clippings, dozens of academic articles on air pollution, and all of our letters of advocacy over the past few years.

Now, all that’s missing is you.

We’ve made it as easy as possible: head over to http://www.nomorefreewayspdx.com/publiccomment before 5:00pm. We’ve given you prompts, we’ve set up a public comment submission form, and below are some snippets from comments from other concerned community members:


Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record before 5pm today. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and demand an EIS. Click on the icon to the right to submit testimony, and help spread the word by posting the link on social media.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record before 5pm today. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and demand an EIS. Click on the icon to the right to submit testimony, and help spread the word by posting the link on social media.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record before 5pm today. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and demand an EIS. Click on the icon to the right to submit testimony, and help spread the word by posting the link on social media.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record before 5pm today. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and demand an EIS. Click on the icon to the right to submit testimony, and help spread the word by posting the link on social media.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record before 5pm today. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and demand an EIS. Click on the icon to the right to submit testimony, and help spread the word by posting the link on social media.

Want to stop this freeway? We need to get you on the record before 5pm today. Submit Public Comment in Opposition to the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion and demand an EIS. Click on the icon to the right to submit testimony, and help spread the word by posting the link on social media.

 

We did a little art project at ODOT’s Headquarters on Saturday

40% of Oregon’s carbon emissions come from transportation – it’s the only sector of Oregon’s economy where carbon emissions are growing instead of shrinking. Every available climate report the state has produced has stated that Oregon simply must rely less on the private automobile, particularly inside the Portland Metro region, for daily transportation needs if we have a chance of meeting our ambitious and necessary goals of reducing carbon emissions. Considering we only have 11 years to stave off the most cataclysmic impacts of climate change, that seems like a big deal!

ODOT keeps hiding these facts, and the agency audaciously claims that this freeway expansion is somehow going to help *reduce* carbon emissions. Yeah, just like more pipelines and coal plants, eh ODOT? (in case you missed it, we thoroughly debunked all of ODOT’s traffic modeling last week, a debunking that was covered by Oregon Public Broadcasting.)

We fully believe in the whole “shine the light you wish to see in the world” trope, so this Saturday night, we partnered with the fine folks of PEST to put a little message on the front walls of ODOT’s downtown office to remind them that their proposed actions are diametrically opposed to any sane, rational approach to addressing the urgency that the climate crisis represents to current and future generations. Thanks to PEST for joining us, and thanks to KGW News for covering us as the lead in to Saturday Night Live this weekend!

One last time: if you haven’t submitted public comment yet, well, please consider doing so. ❤ 


What is ODOT trying to hide? 🤔

OPBCity Observatory catch ODOT hiding Columbia River Crossing traffic firehose in Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion Project

image shows giant freaking 12 lane Columbia River Crossing plan

This Wednesday, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Jeff Mapes broke the news that we at No More Freeways had suspected for the past few weeks as we analyzed ODOT’s traffic data: ODOT is deliberately putting their thumbs on the scale of their traffic projections to justify the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion.

By baking in the assumption of the construction and completion of a $3,000,000,000, 12-lane Columbia River Crossing project (a proposal that’s been more or less dead for nearly five years), ODOT’s traffic modeling deliberately floods the Rose Quarter area with a much higher rate of traffic, which creates a significant amount of congestion in the RQ area (that then this freeway is supposed to “fix.”)

Why does that matter? We’re glad you asked. We’ll paraphrase City Observatory‘s excellent run down, which we encourage you to read in full:

✅ It’s a violation of the NEPA process to hide such a fundamental assumption
✅ The Environmental Assessment ODOT provided doesn’t study a true “No-Build Scenario” against which project effects can be judged
✅The inclusion of a new, nonexistant, currently-not-even-seriously-considered CRC inflates traffic levels to make the Rose Quarter project seem more necessary
✅The modeling suggests that the need for ODOT’s Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion is largely caused by the CRC – aka, the Rose Quarter project is needed mainly to solve the problem that a new 12 lane CRC creates
✅Hiding CRC in no-build violates requirements that EA addresses cumulative impacts

and the biggest one:

c’mon, ODOT models traffic for a 12-lane bridge that’s barely on the drawing board, but can’t model for congestion pricing, which is moving full steam ahead, and likely would negate the need for the project? 🤔

It seems wild to us that ODOT is deliberately *not* studying whether congestion pricing, a policy tool that the Oregon Legislature asked ODOT to explore for the Portland region as part of HB 2017 (it passed with bipartisan support!). ODOT recently asked the federal government to move forward with further study and implementation of congestion pricing along this stretch of freeway. Yet despite the fact ODOT is modeling traffic projections from now until 2045 on I-5, *and* the fact that congestion pricing is substantially impactful on traffic patterns and congestion…ODOT isn’t studying it as relevant to projecting out traffic on this freeway over the next two decades? But they *are* absolutely certain that a new CRC is coming to sic a firehose of traffic on the Rose Quarter?

THESE ASSUMPTIONS BAKED INTO ODOT’S TRAFFIC MODELING (AND ODOT’S UNWILLINGNESS TO STUDY OR CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES) ARE OBSCURING THE IMPACT THIS PROJECT WILL HAVE ON THE COMMUNITY, AND THEY ARE DOING IT TO JUSTIFY THE $500 MILLION EXPANSION PROJECT.

Again, we encourage you to check out the full City Observatory post, which runs down the numerous technical assumptions included in ODOT’s models. All of the assumptions are largely designed to churn out numbers that suggest that this freeway expansion will somehow be the first of its kind to improve local air pollution, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce traffic congestion. By using these overly generous assumptions, ODOT is trying to make it sound reasonable to justify expanding lanes of freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School when 40% of our carbon emissions come from transportation and we only have 11 years to fight off the worst impacts of climate change.

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. 

Did you know that the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion includes widening a freeway to hover over the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade? We didn’t either! A community member asked ODOT for engineering drawings of the project on February 16 and were told they didn’t exist; when we filed a Freedom Of Information Act, we were then told there were 36 GB of files available, but that we only got less than a week to pour through these schematics. Thanks to Cupola Media for drawing up what the Eastbank Esplanade will look like with ODOT’s freeway widening – definitely seems like it’ll be much louder and a lot less pleasant a place to ride a bike. (You can follow our pal Iain’s full twitter thread about his FOIA adventures with ODOT 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. 

BikePortland.org has some fantastic coverage about the surprisingly sharp statements that came out from the Bicycle Advisory Committee, Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and Oregon Walks this week. We’ve also seen excellent letters asking for ODOT to conduct a full EIS from the Eliot Neighborhood Association, Oregon Environmental Council, Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission, AORTA, Portland Bus Lane Project, 350 PDX, Portland Public Schools, and the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Safe Routes to School.

The Portland Mercury’s Blair Stenvick also has a thorough roundup about our efforts, chronicling the large number of organizations that are submitting public comment requesting that ODOT move forward with an Environmental Impact Statement.

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. 

Photo shows a bunch of dudes giving thumbs up while recording the Sprocket PodcastWe were on the Sprocket Podcast yesterday – it should be ready to download around 8pm Friday. Download the episode to hear us talk about how driving cars is like the movie Avatar, how we’ve organized our campaign over the past couple years, and why the freeway industrial complex is so big and powerful. Thanks for hosting us! We were also on KBOO’s Heather McCoy show three times in the last month.

image directs people to website to submit public testimony

ook, we know this is the second long-winded email we’ve sent you in a week. But hey, this deadline on Monday is important. There’s no path to stopping this freeway that doesn’t entail us kicking butt and getting hundreds and hundreds of comments on the record in opposition to this project. We promise to chill out, give your inbox a break and go dormant for a few weeks after the deadline passes, but for the time being: all hands on deck! Every bit of elbow grease you can put in to submitting a public comment and reminding your friends, family, coworkers, twitter crushes, neighbors, teachers, whoever you talk to on any sort of daily basis – GET THEM ON THE RECORD.  And big ups to our pal Eric, who hosted a comment writing party this week and got dozens of letters submitted.

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.

We’ll send one more small reminder Monday (the day the EA closes!), and we’ll probably send a big sweeping follow up thank you the following week, and then leave you alone for a while. Pinky swear. But we need your help, so please, go submit public comment. 

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).