TLDR: Submit public comment to tell Metro and the officials on JPACT to stop planning to fail on our climate and traffic safety goals and adopt the policy positions submitted by No More Freeways. We cannot plan to fail – to achieve our climate and safety goals we must demand a future with safer streets and no more freeways.
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Metro, the regional government that coordinates Portland with surrounding suburbs, is currently undertaking public comment for their proposed updates to the Regional Transportation Plan. As BikePortland reported last fall, this is an important document – it includes specified details of which specific transportation projects are deemed regional priorities and queued up to be eligible for funding and implementation in the months and years ahead.
After reviewing the draft document, No More Freeways is gravely concerned that these plans are woefully insufficient to meet the moment. With devastating climate crises underway nationwide and a horrendous uptick in traffic fatalities on Portland’s streets, Metro’s proposed RTP as written is a plan to fail to address these challenges.
No More Freeways joined The Street Trust, Verde, 1000 Friends of Oregon and other community advocates testifying at the public hearing at Metro in late July. This week, we’re submitting our official written comments as testimony to Metro with a detailed list of changes that will ensure our region lives up to our equity, climate and safety goals. We need your help getting Metro’s attention by submitting your own comments.
Here’s the jist of what we need you to submit:
- We need bolder action on climate
Anyone else sick of this heat wave? 40% of Oregon’s carbon emissions come from transportation, and as our letter to Metro details, the RTP wildly underestimates the amount of carbon pollution that will come from driving without transformative changes to our transportation system. If the elected officials around our region are truly the climate leaders that they say they are on the campaign trail, we need them to push the Regional Transportation Plan to adopt more aggressive plans to reduce driving and invest in the most cost-effective initiatives to reduce carbon emissions – walkable communities and abundant public transit. The RTP can also be more bold on pushing for more aggressive regional congestion pricing in line with the Climate Smart Communities program, and direct money away from ODOT’s freeway expansions and towards community street initiatives. Metro needs to be an unambiguous champion of more equitable congestion pricing policy.
- Invest in traffic safety
There’s been nothing short of carnage on our streets the past few years. It seems to get worse and worse, despite all the proclamations from elected officials that it’s time we did something about our unsafe streets. We need regional elected officials to demand that ODOT prioritize investing in orphan highways instead of freeway expansions. The Regional Transportation Plan is an opportunity to outline how this region will prioritize investments in traffic safety over additional road capacity. freeways.
- Whatever else you wanna say
Have strong thoughts on air pollution? Want to call attention to a specific project or road that needs improvement? Eager to demand for greater transit service? This is a key opportunity to make sure that our region’s elected officials understand the critical urgency with which we need to transform how we invest in and govern our streets.
Every single project in the Regional Transportation Plan must address the region’s backlogged road maintenance needs, the urgent traffic safety crisis, dramatic expansion of public transportation and/or climate action. Any other projects – including all of these freeway expansions – represents a plan to fail.