UPDATE: DEC 1, 2019:
DEMAND ODOT CONDUCT AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR THE PROPOSED ROSE QUARTER FREEWAY EXPANSION.
We launched our campaign to stop the Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion back in September 2017. Since then, we’ve organized massive turnout in opposition to ODOT’s plans at numerous public hearings, thoroughly debunked the agency’s traffic projections, and helped organize a movement that turned in over 2000 letters in opposition to ODOT’s plans this past spring. We’ve worked with students at Harriet Tubman Middle School who demand cleaner air at their school, drove to Salem to testify at the Oregon Transportation Commission, and supported youth climate strikers who held a sit-in at Mayor Wheeler’s office demanding a moratorium on freeway expansion.
Despite this wellspring of burgeoning activism and the growing consensus that ODOT’s plans are counterproductive to our region’s congestion, climate, air pollution and traffic safety goals as a city and a region, state government appears ready to ignore us. While Willamette Week reported this past August that ODOT was considering conducting a more extensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to understand the impacts of this expansion on the neighborhood, No More Freeways has learned that it appears ODOT has backtracked on their tentative promise and will instead move forward with their existing Environmental Assessment.
We’ve gotten word that the Oregon Transportation Commission is going to vote at their December 16-17 meeting on whether or not ODOT can move forward with their abysmal, existing Environmental Assessment plans.
We need to be loud enough that ODOT, the Governor, the legislature, and the Oregon Transportation Commission can’t ignore us. And to do that, we need your help. Here’s two things you can do this month:
1. Contact your government and demand ODOT conduct an EIS.
We need to make sure our elected officials are accountable to our demands that we prepare for a low-climate, clean-air, congestion free future. ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission are hoping that no one will pay attention to the OTC vote at their next meeting on December 17 – we need you to make sure our elected officials know that we are paying attention. We’ve made it easy for you – the form below will automatically send your email to the Oregon Transportation Commission, ODOT, and the offices of Speaker Tina Kotek and Governor Kate Brown so that they know their constituents are paying attention on whether they demand a more rigorous study of this freeway boondoggle (please also consider sending whatever you write to your own legislator as well!)
EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS TO ODOT, OTC, SpEaker tina kotek and governor kate brown (USING THE EASY FORM WE PUT TOGETHER, BELOW)
Unsure of what to write?
Speak from the heart. You’re welcome and heartily encouraged to use our talking points (see below), but more than anything else, a sincere, heartfelt explanation of why you oppose this megaproject is the best contribution to our campaign we can ask you for. If you’re a parent of a student at Harriet Tubman Middle School, if you’re a small business owner in the area, if you’re deeply terrified about climate change, if you’re a transit enthusiast concerned about the induced demand of more driving, if you bike through the neighborhood and don’t like the removal of the Flint Avenue Bridge, if you’re some combination of the above/none of the above: make sure you explicitly state you want to see a full Environmental Impact Study conducted, and share your story.
Some other talking points:
The overwhelming community opposition to the project. ODOT’s plans were loudly opposed at their community hearing this past March. Over 2200 comments were received by the agency during the public comment period for the project, and 89% were in opposition. Letters of opposition (and requests for ODOT to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement) were submitted from a wide set of community leaders, government agencies and elected officials including Portland Public Schools, the Albina Vision Trust, Metro, Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, State Representative Karin Power, Oregon Environmental Council, The Street Trust, local neighborhood associations, 350 PDX, Neighbors for Clean Air, Portland’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Disability Rights Oregon and many others. You can see the full letters of opposition these and other groups wrote on our website.
Freeway Expansion is Climate Denialism. 40% of Oregon’s carbon emissions come from transportation. It’s the only sector of our economy where emissions are growing. If Oregon is serious about doing our part to mitigate against the climate crisis, we must immediately reprioritize transportation funding into a system that dramatically lowers vehicle miles travelled (VMT), particularly within the Portland Metro region. Every dollar we spend on freeway widening is a dollar Oregon should instead be spending on improving and prioritizing frequent, accessible, reliable transit throughout walkable neighborhoods across the region. The fires, floods, droughts, and storms are only going to get worse. The oceans are rising, so are we – it’s imperative we act on climate now and divest in urban freeways for the sake of current and future generations.
It won’t fix congestion. Freeway expansion has never solved traffic congestion, in any North American city, anywhere. Ever! ODOT’s own hired consultants admit that this project won’t address recurring traffic congestion on this corridor. There are numerous examples of induced demand across the country, including most recently in Los Angeles, who spent $1.6 BILLION on a “freeway bottleneck” widening project only to find it made traffic *worse.* Thanks to the concept known as “induced demand,” widening freeways only encourages more people choose to drive, creating even more congestion.
Freeway expansion worsens air pollution. This project proposes to expand a freeway into the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School, where air pollution is already so bad that PSU’s researchers recommended that students forgo outdoor recess. This is an environmental justice issue – 40% of Tubman’s students are Black, and 73% are identified by PPS as vulnerable populations. Students from Tubman MS have testified in opposition to this expansion; Portland Public Schools also asked ODOT to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement.
We simply can’t trust ODOT with our future. This agency is not accountable to the public interest. The agency’s claims that their freeway widening proposal will somehow improve traffic congestion, lower carbon emissions and improve air quality are all based on traffic projections that were not originally distributed to the public. When we finally got access to these projections a full three weeks into their public comment period, our independent traffic researcher consultants found numerous inaccuracies, all of them conveniently designed to justify this unnecessary project. ODOT denied our multiple requests for an extension of the public comment period, and the agency has an abysmal track record of public engagement: terrible transparency, significant cost overruns, and outright lies to justify exorbitantly expensive freeway projects that don’t end up achieving their ostensible outcomes. Metro’s staffers wrote that claims in ODOT’s Environmental Assessment were “not objectively true and is potentially misleading,” and Joe Cortright’s City Observatory has written numerous stories demonstrating the agency’s malfeasance. This agency has proven itself completely disinterested in community engagement around their megaprojects, and is apparently willing to present misleading evidence about the impacts these expansions will have on carbon emissions, air pollution or traffic congestion.
2. Join NMF / SUNRISE PDX at OUR “DEMAND AN EIS” protest on Tuesday, December 10 OUTSIDE ODOT HQ.
No More Freeways is partnering with Sunrise Movement PDX to host a public demonstration outside of ODOT’s offices on Tuesday, December 10th. Join us as we sing carols about freeway expansion, drink some hot cider, and demand that ODOT listen to the youth climate justice advocates clamoring for the agency to reconsider their proposal to spend $500 million on fossil-fuel infrastructure when there’s only ten years left to avert a catastrophic ecological breakdown.
Tuesday, December 10
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)
Help spread the word on facebook – invite your friends!
Hope to see you in the streets!
Thanks for submitting your comment! Here’s a few other ways you can help:
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR
After you’ve sent your letter to ODOT/OTC/Governor Brown, please send it to your legislators as well! Look up your legislator here and send them the same text, asking them to join us in asking for a full Environmental Impact Statement. (and if you get a response, forward it on to us!)
ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO JOIN IN
Can you post a link to this No More Freeways page on your facebook, twitter, instagram, Next Door, local message board or google group for your PTA/Neighborhood Association? This is a community-led effort, and our grassroots campaign to encourage the state of Oregon to reconsider this project requires a robust community turnout during this Environmental Assessment period. Please reach out to No More Freeways if you’d like us to come present to your community group.
CHIP IN TO HELP US PROMOTE THE MESSAGE
We’ve raised over $20,000 over the course of two years in our campaign to challenge this project – most has gone to lawyer fees, sponsored social media posts, and printing a lot of buttons. Donations to our campaign are tax-deductible, thanks to our fine fiscal sponsors over at Portland Transport. Consider throwing us a few bucks to help us cover our propaganda costs and legal fees. We’ll mail you some buttons and stickers if you drop us a note with your mailing address.