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Planned widening of I-5 at the Rose Quarter is Portland’s next big freeway fight

Posted by on August 29th, 2017 at 4:21 pm

I-5 at Rose Quarter

As the project moves forward, so to are efforts to stop it.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The initial draft of Oregon’s just-passed transportation bill was an audacious money-grab from misguided politicians and the freeway advocates that fuel them. Thankfully, the final version that Governor Kate Brown signed into law today in Portland dramatically scaled-back our investment in urban freeway widening projects; but not completely.

One of the winners in the bill was a project that will expand Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter — right through the heart of Portland’s central city. And with City Council poised for a vote to add the project into Portland’s Transportation System Plan on September 7th, activists are laying the groundwork for another freeway fight.

How we got here

PBOT open house materials from 2012.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has drooled over widening I-5 through the Rose Quarter for decades. And surprisingly, they have the City of Portland’s support for it because they’d package it with local street improvements. ODOT sees the relatively narrow cross-section (it’s two lanes in each direction) as a major “bottleneck” for motor vehicle users. Plans on what to do about it have floated around since the 1980s and matured in 2007 with a report that laid the groundwork for the City of Portland’s N/NE Quadrant/I-5 Broadway Weidler project (completed in 2012). BikePortland was first to publish that report in 2010.

In a December 2010 editorial I warned that, “Without a strong community voice about how to — or if we should — move forward, some of the shockingly highway-centric concepts in that report could gain traction.”

Organized community pushback never materialized and by June 2012, the $400 million “I-5 Facility Plan” had taken shape. In addition to new lanes on I-5 between Interstate 84 and the Fremont Bridge, the plans included numerous changes to surface streets aimed at better bicycling and walking in the area. At the time, Eliot Neighborhood Association Land Use Chair and N/NE Quadrant project advisory committee member Mike Warwick told us, “The associated surface street improvements… while attractive, do not offset the obvious negative consequences of the freeway proposal.”

In September of that same year, Active Right of Way, a now-defunct group of volunteer activists, also issued a strong statement against the plans.

We didn’t hear much about the project until early this year when TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane began stumping for the project to build support prior to the 2017 legislative session. McFarlane, head of a mass transit agency, inexplicably became the public face in support of widening I-5 and two other urban freeways in our region (in addition to “his” project, the SW Corridor).

“This expensive boondoggle will not adequately address our region’s congestion problems or the safety problems on the corridor as ODOT suggests, and will actively hurt our region’s ability to meet our carbon reduction goals, our air quality goals, our fiscal stewardship goals, and our equity goals of investing scarce resources in neighborhoods where they are needed the most.”
— Joe Cortright, City Observatory

As momentum continued for the project, Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith tried to get his colleagues on the Planning and Sustainability Commission to take the I-5 widening project out of the City of Portland’s Transportation System Plan. Smith’s hope was to force Portland City Council to have to take a vote on the project. That was back in March and Smith couldn’t get the votes he needed. “There are a huge number of good things this plan does and I don’t dispute that,” Smith said a commission meeting, “But neither can I ignore that the first thing it does is that it makes driving easier.”

Smith’s gambit inspired Bike Loud PDX to flood TriMet’s board meeting with testimony and signs opposing the project back in March.

With the project still very much alive (see below), activists’ new target is the public hearing on the Central City Plan slated for Portland City Council on September 7th. At that meeting, councilors will decide on whether or not to include the I-5 widening project (and others) in the plan.

Momentum thanks to House Bill 2017

It’s not as offensive as the $338 million investment lawmakers in Salem first proposed to widen the freeway; but the final version of HB 2017 still gave the project a huge lift. In a new FAQ, ODOT says the bill, “funds improvements on I-5 at the Rose Quarter, one of the worst bottlenecks for freight and passenger vehicles in the entire nation.” They also tout the project’s benefits to the safety and convenience of motor vehicle users: “Building the Rose Quarter project will improve safety and save more than 2.5 million hours of travel time each year.”

The bill itself mandates that the creation of a detailed cost analysis for the project — complete with “construction option packages” — must be completed by 2020. Once that analysis is done, the bill promises $30 million per year for the project starting in 2022. This support of the project in HB 2017 will give backers the momentum they need to find more money — likely from a big regional transportation funding bond being hammered out right now.

Signs of unrest

With this state support now enshrined by law and a big Portland City Council vote looming, activists seem to be getting organized in a way they haven’t been in the past.

Noted local economist Joe Cortright — also a chief critic of the Columbia River Crossing project — has been using his platform at City Observatory to voice strong opposition to the project. In an article explaining failed freeway projects in other cities posted last week, Cortright wrote that the I-5 project is an, “expensive boondoggle [that] will not adequately address our region’s congestion problems or the safety problems on the corridor as ODOT suggests, and will actively hurt our region’s ability to meet our carbon reduction goals, our air quality goals, our fiscal stewardship goals, and our equity goals of investing scarce resources in neighborhoods where they are needed the most.”

Cortright has also ripped ODOT’s safety claims, saying the agency’s own “performance report” puts driving convenience over public health and is based on analysis that people should be driving 60 mph through Portland — which is five miles over the legal limit. He also questioned ODOT’s main promise: That widening freeways is the best way to improve congestion.

And Cortright isn’t alone. As we’ve seen with Active Right of Way and Bike Loud PDX — and the groups that came before them to defeat the Mt. Hood Freeway — there’s widespread grassroots opposition to freeway widening projects in Portland.

On September 7th, local independnet activist Aaron Brown is will lead a march to City Hall as part of Oregon Walks’ month-long celebration of walking called “Steptember”. “Join a rabblerousing group of citizen advocates,” says the event description, “as we walk from the Tom McCall Waterfront Park (where Portlanders forty years ago tore out a highway!) before walking to City Hall to testify in opposition to the freeway expansion project.”

This is about to get much more interesting. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 8/30 at 9:05 am: The No More Freeways coalition has launched with a letter to Portland City Council. Read all about it in our latest post.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

148 Comments
  • JeffS August 29, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    So anti-car people are upset. Anything new to report?

    This is an interstate highway. The state certainly has some interesting in keeping it moving. I have no problem with it, though I think a toll bypass west of town would be my proposal.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 29, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Hi JeffS,

      Thing is, there are people who feel like there are many more sensible and responsible ways to “keeping it moving” than by adding lanes. I agree with you tolling should be top of the list. And major investments in bikeways and excellent transit too. This is just too much money and too close the city center to spend in this way IMO. There are better things to do with our money — things that don’t end up making driving a single-occupancy motor vehicle through Portland easier.

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      • Jeff August 29, 2017 at 5:33 pm

        It being ‘too close to the inner city’ is really not an effective argument, given that the main thoroughfare through the city is already there. In an ideal world it would be moved or buried, but that’s not realistic.

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        • K Taylor August 29, 2017 at 10:34 pm

          But it’s also not realistic to keep expanding it every time there are more cars. At some point, you have to stop letting out your belt and go on a diet.

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          • Bankerman August 31, 2017 at 11:26 am

            This section of I-5 has never been expanded, it was built in the 1950s with 2 lanes in each direction. I don’t see that adding capacity after 60 years is unrealistic.

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          • Joe September 12, 2017 at 5:36 am

            Widening it “every time?” It never has been widened in its entire history. At least speak truthfully, otherwise it makes you not credible.

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      • J August 29, 2017 at 6:05 pm

        Jonathan,
        What do you identify as the specific problems with this plan?
        Are you opposed to any and all road improvement or infrastructure projects that are intended to improve conditions for motor vehicle users?

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 7:52 am

          Hi J,

          You asked me, “What do you identify as the specific problems with this plan?”

          This plan is based on one premise: The need to “relieve congestion”. (They’ve added in safety concerns, but I think that’s just a ruse to gain public/political support.) That to me is a flawed premise. It’s a lazy and frankly ignorant way to approach a transportation system problem. IMO the worst way we can “relieve congestion” is to make it easier to drive and that’s what this project aims to do.

          You also asked: “Are you opposed to any and all road improvement or infrastructure projects that are intended to improve conditions for motor vehicle users”

          That’s a good question. My answer is: It depends. There are some places where motor vehicle use should be made better, some places where it should be made worse, and some places where it shouldn’t be allowed at all. I think this project is the 2nd one. IMO we should never improve driving conditions in the central city. It doesn’t make any sense from a transportation efficiency, health, environment, or economic perspective.

          I say this as someone who owns a minivan and has 3 young kids who do lots of activities that I sometimes (begrudingly!) drive them to. I feel the urgency to vastly improve our biking and transit systems far outweighs any “improvements” or investments we should make to our auto-oriented system.

          I think it’s interesting that many people assume that my (or others’) criticisms of a freeway project(s) mean we hate cars and don’t think anyone should drive them ever again. This is about balance. Our system is waaay out of balance and has too many cars and too many roads built expressly for their use.

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          • J August 30, 2017 at 10:02 am

            Hey Jonathan

            To start with I wasn’t trying to come across as presumptive or accusatory, my questions are sincere inquiries. With that, aside from traffic calming measures, I can’t think of a transportation project that isn’t aimed one way or another at relieving congestion. Whether that be by increasing capacity or by some other means. Safety improvements typically seem to take lower priority and aren’t addressed until or unless someone is hurt or killed. Unfortunately. Thinking about it now, that vicinity does seem like an area that could use some safety and capacity improvements for bicyclists. As well as motorized vehicles. I don’t understand the opinion that this is an area where motor vehicle traffic should intentionally be made worse. The area is a major bottleneck, multiple freeways connecting, the Rose Quarter, Swan Island and the industrial areas around Interstate Avenue. A primary route through the city and into downtown. The motor vehicle traffic in the area isn’t going to go away. Motor vehicle traffic isn’t going to go away. At best is will be replaced by electric and autonomous vehicles.

            I guess I was hoping for some deeper insight into what specific aspects of the plan that you find fault or flaw with. Rather than a general stance that making it easier to drive is not a proper solution to relieving congestion.

            It seems pretty clear that it’s a problem area that needs to be addressed. In a way that improves it for everyone. It’s obviously easier to identify problems than it is to formulate solutions. Solutions are what really matter though, it’s easier to oppose than to propose, ya know.

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            • B. Carfree August 30, 2017 at 1:52 pm

              It looks like your recipe for relieving congestion is to add travel lanes. I understand the temptation to think things work that way, it just seems like common sense, but the data that has been gathered to date indicates that adding travel lanes makes congestion worse. Study the concept of induced demand, now well established, and you’ll see what I mean. It may feel good to “do something”, but it’s not wise to do something that makes the problem you are attempting to solve worse.

              Think about what JM said about reluctantly using his minivan to shuttle his children. How many of those trips would he choose to make by bike if he found acceptably safe routes? Probably most of them. I know my grandchildren are usually brought to my house by car entirely out of safety concerns. Those are trips that no one really wants to do by car. Similar situations exist for public transit that are due to its inadequate reach and frequency.

              Anyone who wants less traffic congestion should be strongly opposed to adding travel lanes. Anyone who wants our cities to be more livable should also strongly support massive additions/improvements to our woefully inadequate bike infrastructure (including the social infrastructure like law enforcement) and public transit (which, alas, has now been shown to need law enforcement improvements as well).

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              • J August 30, 2017 at 2:08 pm

                My recipe? I don’t have one. That’s why I’m asking questions, I want to know what recipes this community supports, rather than opposes. It’s easy to oppose. It’s simple. It doesn’t require much thought. And I see very few proposals. Realistic, thoughtful proposals. “Roads bad” is not a solution. There will be more motorized vehicles on the roads. The population will continue to grow. I’m not sure that induced demand applies to this proposed project, the area is already fully developed. An expansion in an outlying area can contribute to further development of the impacted area, but do those same principles apply in an area that is fully developed? I think in general, you’re standing on a lot of assumptions. And personal opinions that you obviously hold dear.

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          • wsbob August 30, 2017 at 6:41 pm

            It’s a stretch of the words ‘freeway widening’, to refer to the project for this short section of I-5 and the exits around the Rose Quarter as freeway widening. There isn’t going to be in this project, miles of I-5 widened from its two lanes in each direction, to three or four, as been done I guess with other freeways in the nation…California for example.

            Freeway capacity is already maxed out during commute hours, so maybe some reduction of congestion through the Rose Quarter bottleneck may be the main configuration benefit to be had from the project. I’m guessing that many people in Portland and the state, those that drive I-5 past the RQ, and that go to businesses and events in this district, want this project to happen. Because of the economic dynamo that the city has been actively working on having the RQ be, I figure the city is very much interested in seeing this project proceed.

            It’s a lot of money, of course. The alternatives for facilitating more efficient travel on I-5 past the RQ, sufficient to serve the travel needs of people using the freeway and streets in the RQ district, do not look good at this point.

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        • soren August 30, 2017 at 8:36 am

          As Joe Cortright explained, this project does little to improve roads for motor vehicle users. And even worse, it creates a debt-load that will reduce the ability of the city to focus on infrastructure and policies that genuinely reduce congestion.

          Once upon a time, Portland … recognized that building more freeways just generated more traffic, and it tore out one downtown freeway, and cancelled another, and instead took the bold step of investing in transit and encouraging greater urban density.

          Economists now talk about the “Fundamental Law of Road Congestion“–each incremental increase in highway capacity generates a proportionate increase in traffic, with the effect that congestion quickly rebounds to previous levels–accompanied by more sprawl, longer trips and increased pollution. As it contemplates spending upwards of a billion dollars on three proposed freeway-widening projects, Portland might want to spend a little time looking at what’s been learned in other cities around the country. </blockquote

          http://cityobservatory.org/what-dallas-houston-louisville-rochester-can-teach-us-about-widening-freeways/

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        • Doug Allen August 30, 2017 at 3:07 pm

          J, you ask for “Realistic, thoughtful proposals.” Here are two quite different proposals to free up capacity for trucks on I-5, which seems to be ODOT’s concern. The first is the AORTA proposal for an improved east-side transit and bicycle connection. See http://www.aortarail.org/images/uploads/ISE_BREW_Portlands_High_Line-3.pdf

          Combined with an extension of the MAX Yellow Line to Hayden Island, and an extension of the C-Tran “Vine” BRT line to Hayden island with bus bypass lanes providing access to the I-5 bridges, this would provide a true transit alternative to I-5 in this stretch, so that auto commuters would have an alternative when congestion pricing is imposed.

          The second idea is to spend the $450 million to extend sidings on the Union Pacific Railroad to create a near double-track rail line between the Columbia River and Eugene. This would provide capacity for more Amtrak service between Seattle and Eugene, and more rail freight capacity to divert trucks off of I-5. This would be a perfect “public-private partnership” that would actually fight climate change, unlike the Rose-Quarter project.

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          • J August 30, 2017 at 3:48 pm

            Thanks Doug! The AORTA proposal looks interesting. It also looks like it would take significantly more money than what’s being proposed here though. Increasing capacity on rail lines is an interesting idea too. I wonder if the rail yards care capable of handling the additional traffic that would go along with the increased freight traffic. I’m not so sure about Amtrak from Seattle to Eugene though. It’s been awhile since I looked, but last time I checked train tickets were more expensive than plane tickets!

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      • mran1984 August 30, 2017 at 12:13 am

        Single occupancy automobiles provide the only route to time in the forest on a mountain bike. I may not support this idea, but making it difficult to get around is questionable. Public transportation does not serve the nighttime, or weekend employee with any regard. Folks on this site are always whining about the difficulty of hills, etc. If you live in Portland and ride a mountain bike a car is essential. I do not require any infrastructure to commute by bike, but I would like to “get out of Dodge” without too much b.s. I reiterate that I do not support this proposal without having a clear picture of what is ahead.

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        • soren August 30, 2017 at 8:45 am

          Public transportation does not serve the nighttime, or weekend employee with any regard.

          Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on short stretches of freeway tarmac make a significant expansion and strengthening of bus service in Portland even less likely.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 10:32 am

          Highway expansion does not serve the nighttime, or weekend employee with any regard; there is already plenty of capacity at those times.

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          • emerson August 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm

            😉

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          • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 2:33 pm

            Or the work-from-home employee, of which I am one 40% of the time.

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      • Tim August 30, 2017 at 9:29 am

        The congestion problem is because interstate highways are used for local transportation. The obvious solution is to reduce the number of exits. Use the merge lanes as through lanes and traffic will move. However, removing the Broadway and Widler interchanges would not be popular.

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        • X August 30, 2017 at 1:57 pm

          Yep. I-5 N is backed up because the merging traffic never clears anywhere from the Corbett exit to the bridge. Surface streets are full of freeway dodging motor vehicles all the way down to the collectors. A 2-lane bridge to Hayden Island and closing a few other exits would knock out a lot of congestion and quell some of the screaming for a new freeway bridge– 99% don’t really believe in earthquakes anyway (how many people are storing 200 gallons of water?) Once things quiet down we can start working on fast commuter rail to Centralia, because Clark County prefers-not-to trains.

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    • John P October 17, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      I drive all over the city for my work and I can tell you that I5 is dangerous around 3 to 6 and rain plus snow days. A new I5 brigde is needed, once you get across to Vancouver the traffic get moving again. North bound gets 1 less lane between 3 and 6 and 2 lanes simply cannot handle the traffic. This backs up 84 and goes all thru the city. A new road cutting thru Hillsboro or Forrest Grove to Long View would relieve North bound traffic from entering Portland.

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      • Dan A October 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        “North bound gets 1 less lane between 3 and 6 and 2 lanes simply cannot handle the traffic.”

        One lane disappears?

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  • Peter Michaelson August 29, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    For years I’ve wondered whether we could close the I5 southbound on-ramp from Broadway. That ramp, combined with the off-ramp to I84, is, I think, the major cause of the problem. Not sure another lane, at much, much greater expense, would be as effective.

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    • paikiala August 30, 2017 at 8:58 am

      sort of like having multiple on-ramps just before a major river crossing…

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    • Chris August 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Exactly this. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to test/prove. Just close the ramp for a week and measure the effects.

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      • J August 30, 2017 at 10:09 am

        Traffic is kinda like a balloon. If you squeeze it in one place it’s going to pop out in another. I think that it’s not difficult to predict the results of that test; there would be less traffic in the area and more someplace else.

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        • Chris August 30, 2017 at 11:39 am

          Freeways are by definition controlled access. We already control the access in other parts of the city by providing limited (ie. relatively far apart) on-ramps. Why not in this location?

          I think the balloon analogy is limited in value. It presumes both that the number of cars is fixed and, more important, that the traffic can’t be encouraged to “pop out” in a location that is more beneficial overall.

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          • J August 30, 2017 at 8:00 pm

            So if all of the RQ on and off ramps are closed… Cars, trucks, etc. go to Interstate Ave or MLK/Grand and then Swan Island interchange at Skidmore; Or across the Broadway bridge to Naito; Or MLK/Grand to I-84 or the Morison bridge; Some might use Broadway/Weidler to 33rd or 39th; maybe a few to the Ross Island Bridge or all the way down MLK; did I miss any? That seems like a lot of additional traffic in already congested areas. Some like Vancouver/Williams (which I forgot) have a lot of bicycle traffic. Broadway/Weidler too.

            For better or worse cars aren’t going away. And their number is not fixed, it’s growing. Autonomous and electric alternatives will continue to increase in number.

            I can imagine that area without the on and off ramps. With traffic calming devices. Pedestrian areas and bike friendly amenities. It’s a beautiful vision, I like it. I can also see it being a gathering place for homeless, which is another conversation altogether. I can’t see a solution for where the current traffic is going to go though. That’s why I’m engaging in the conversation. Well that and boredom. And interest. Anyway, it would be great to see all of that traffic go away entirely. It’s not happening in the near future though, too much commerce goes through those interchanges.

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        • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 2:35 pm

          In some cases, you might even push in a car and pop out a bike!

          Speaking of assumptions and opinions…..

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          • J August 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm

            What’s you point Dan?

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    • J August 30, 2017 at 9:27 am

      If the I-5 on ramp at Broadway were closed, where would the traffic be routed?

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      • BradWagon August 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm

        Hopefully for some, out of their cars.

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 1:39 pm

          Hope in one hand…

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  • Beeblebrox August 29, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    It should be noted that the project does not actually “widen” I-5. There would still be two lanes north of the I-405 on-ramp, and two lanes south of the I-84 off-ramp. What the project does is connect the I-405 on-ramp to the I-84 offramp without a merge required, and vice versa in the other direction. So yes, on the margin it will make it easier to drive through the current bottleneck. But overall, this is not a massive “freeway widening” in terms of adding any through lanes on the mainline, the way they are doing on 217 or I-205. Instead, it’s more like it’s connecting I-405 to I-84 to prevent the need for so much weaving back and forth.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 8:07 am

      Beeblebrox,

      OK so you want to debate terminology while Rome is burning (or more specically, OR and MT are burning and TX and LA are flooding), but whatever…

      I hear you and I will be careful with the terms I use (you know I take that type of thing very seriously).

      To me this isn’t about terminology, this is about: Should we invest all these millions to — as you said yourself — make it easier to drive a car on a freeway through Portland? I think the answer is very clearly no. I think we must at some point draw a line and say, “hell no!” we have more important priorities and we can’t continue throwing money into auto-oriented infrastructure while other needs die on the vine. We just waited many years for a 20s Bikeway that is far from “world class” (despite what PBOT PR people say) and it cost as much as a few months of planning and consultant work for a freeway project like this one.

      I realize the local street improvements promised to come with this project are very significant and fantastic, but I wonder: Why must every big bike (non-car) related step come with a few steps back? Why did biking have to get dinged in the transportation bill with a embarrassing, punitive tax just to “get a seat at the table”? Biking is the most efficient, healthiest, most economically sound mode of transportation we can offer people, yet our politics and public is so messed up that we’ve gotten into the mode of feeling like we can only take a step for bicycling by also accepting a big compromise. That is ridiculous to me and at some point we need to go a different direction.

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      • Mr. Grey August 30, 2017 at 9:28 am

        “Should we invest all these millions to — as you said yourself — make it easier to drive a car on a freeway through Portland?…we have more important priorities”

        We definitely have more important priorities than investing in highways, but a huge strategic error you and the No More Freeways folks seem to be making is around the fungibility of this money; it’s not fungible. What’s more, shooting down this project will eliminate significant active transportation and neighborhood repair efforts that would otherwise have to be funded from the city’s discretionary resources that could be being used on projects and in places where we would agree the need is more significant. This project is not a bad one, and on balance I’d be willing to argue that there is much more good than bad. The highway elements of the project are addressing a problem that congestion reduction pricing won’t do anything about, namely the safety issue that is weaving; it is not a capacity-increasing project; the terminology is significant. There is a high likelihood this project will be implemented part and parcel with congestion pricing (something we all here very much want), but it may be more difficult to implement congestion pricing without this project. Advocate messaging about this project needs to be more nuanced to avoid doing unintended damage.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 9:51 am

          Hi Mr. Grey,

          There’s a lot more to this debate than just my comments so far. One of the issues is that I believe Portland needs to have this debate. This project hasn’t even gone through a public hearing at City Council yet. So… One purpose of an opposition voice like this is to promote a more robust dialogue and ask questions so that whatever choice we make is the best one. I think the moving parts are much more unpredictable than you assume and the people pulling the levers of power, IMO, don’t always have the best ideas or intentions. Speaking of which, to me this is largely an issue of trust. Do I, we, trust ODOT? I don’t. I don’t trust the powers-that-be who see freeway projects as a cure-all and I generally don’t trust people who think congestion is the single biggest crisis we face. That’s where the urgency for this project comes from: People who think delays on freeways are a crisis that MUST be fixed immediately. I think we have much more important crises — and I think we’re putting cart before the horse here by planning for the lane expansions before having a solid congestion pricing plan in place.

          I agree with you and others that the local street improvements are very important. I just don’t feel comfortable right now giving ODOT permission to improve a freeway in my neighborhood and I want City Council to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

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          • Mr. Grey August 30, 2017 at 11:03 am

            Jonathan,

            Of course there is more to the debate than your comments, but your comments share the same unfair (imo) framing of the project as shows up in the No More Freeways PDX letter and need to be addressed. I would be more sympathetic if all of the costs/benefits of the project and opposing it were weighed and this advocate group came out against it, but it seems like there are a few essential angles they didn’t consider and don’t acknowledge.

            Also, saying “we have misgivings about this project and would like to discuss it more!” is much different than “No More Freeways EVAR!!!!!!”

            What’s more, this is one of those things that has been discussed ad infinitum: this project has a decades-long history and has evolved from a truly deplorable highway-widening, braided ramp monstrosity worthy of opposition to a spot fix with about half of the project cost going to re-knitting the neighborhood together in a multimodal-friendly way. A detailed facility plan for this project in its current form HAS been considered and adopted by city council and the larger community after a two-year process. Maybe the outcome isn’t ideal, but blowing things up at this point will likely result in a lot of collateral damage. No one in this advocate group is pushing to change the project; they want it removed from the City’s plans. That doesn’t sound like “more discussion is needed.”

            As for trusting ODOT, the most recent facility plan was developed with their cooperation. If we throw that out of our plans, ODOT may take that as a message that “it doesn’t matter what they do, there will always be people they can’t please” and will move ahead with whatever version of the project they please. The ODOT-Portland partnership has helped ODOT to shift its thinking on this project significantly. Driving a wedge between the two by getting the city to toss the project out does nothing to help a partnership that needs to be resilient for all the jurisdictional transfer that needs to take place.

            Soren, you’re right. Their priorities are screwy. The problem is getting highway money to fund safety improvements where they are most needed.

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        • soren August 30, 2017 at 10:05 am

          “namely the safety issue that is weaving”

          good grief.

          if safety were a genuine priority for the state there would be a laser-like focus on portland’s high-crash network rather than a single interchange in the infrastructure-rich central city.

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          • Beeblebrox August 30, 2017 at 8:54 pm

            Portland’s high crash network analysis did not include freeways, so that’s not really fair. Tons of crashes happen on freeways, including fatal and serious injury, and weaving is a major cause. Also, congestion pricing alone would actually increase speeds and make the safety issue worse.

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        • Doug Allen August 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm

          Two quibbles with Mr. Grey: The money is in fact fungible — it comes from a variety of sources, some of which have not even been uncovered, but so far it seems to come from a legislative earmark largely approved by Democratic legislators, a potential local bond issue, and Federal funds. Flexible Federal funds have already been spent on this project. If there were the political will for alternatives, they could happen. While Oregon’s constitution restricts the use of gas tax money, the legislature could give Portland additional money for street maintenance and safety projects, freeing up Portland’s systems development charges, parking district funds, parking meter revenues, etc. for alternatives to expansion of I-5.

          Regarding the ability to do congestion pricing without this project, ODOT has done a poor job of taking advantage of the federal “Value Pricing Pilot Program” that allows congestion pricing without new construction. Again, political will to do something turns out to be the key.

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          • Mr. Grey August 30, 2017 at 4:53 pm

            Doug Allen,

            The latest statewide transportation funding bill addresses both of your points.

            The legislature has allocated $30 million for planning and design of the project and then $30 million each year until the project is paid for. This money comes from gas tax increases and vehicle registration fees whose use restrictions you’ve already noted. No other funding sources are needed to pay for the project. You might be right that the legislature could channel gas tax funds to Portland “for street maintenance and safety projects”, but ODOT is steward of this project, its mandate, and its dedicated funding stream; how likely do you think it is ODOT will deviate from marching orders it’s all-too-eager to follow?

            HB 2017 also requires the Oregon Transportation Commission to implement value pricing to reduce congestion on I-5 and I-205 in the Portland area. ODOT doesn’t have a choice in the matter anymore.

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    • soren August 30, 2017 at 8:29 am

      But overall, this is not a massive “freeway widening” in terms of adding any through lanes on the mainline

      So it adds two unneeded freeway lanes that serve to push congestion south and north. Is spending ~$350 million dollars on a project rooted in a lie — the idea that induced demand does not exist — the best use of the people’s money? And what happened to the city’s climate action plan? Are motorvehicle greenhouse gas emissions no longer a concern?

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      • Middle of the Road Guy August 30, 2017 at 8:49 am

        Other people feel they are needed.

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        • soren September 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm

          should we make decisions that bond hundreds of millions of dollars of the people’s money based on the feelings of political donors? if the will of the people were important portland’s democratic party apparatchiks would put this enormously proposal up for a ballot measure. moreover and imo, a local mass transit bond would have far more electoral support than a local auxiliary lane freeway expansion bond.

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    • wsbob August 30, 2017 at 11:56 pm

      beeblebrox…Thank you for emphasizing that, contrary to how some people are characterizing the I-5 RQ project, it’s not ‘freeway widening’ per se. I wonder how many of the people that oppose this project and for perhaps an even smaller sample, how many people commenting to this story, have to daily drive I-5 past the RQ? Anybody reading here meet that criteria? If a good number of them feel strongly about crossing this project off the list, that definitely would be something to consider.

      Could be wrong, but I suspect that the people opposing this project, largely are people that don’t have a commute, or a job that requires they use this section of I-5 on a daily basis, or multiple days of the week. Or that need to use this section of I-5 to travel from other cities in the valley to attend a major league game, go to a convention center event, or a convention.

      Even though they may have a motor vehicle which they occasionally use for trips, people that mostly bike for travel through this area between close in neighborhoods or between close in neighborhoods and downtown, understandably may be far more inclined to oppose this project compared to people that rely on a better traffic flowing freeway and exit design.

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  • Adam
    Adam August 29, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    But I thought the state and city were broke and had no money for transportation?! Or was that simply an excuse not to build bike and public transport infrastructure?

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  • Bikeninja August 29, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    The Damage Hurricane Harvey is doing to the nations oil infrastructure combined with insolvent state of the domestic oil industry plus the rapid decline of conventional oil output is signeling that this moment in time is probably the beginning of the end of happy motoring. The last thing we should do is sqaunder millions on obsolete auto infrastructure.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy August 30, 2017 at 8:50 am

      we’ve heard this for a long time.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 10:37 am

      We will never run out of oil. Our society will be dead long before we can burn it all.

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      • bikeninja August 30, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        So we are done for by 2030 then?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 4:51 pm

          I sure hope not.

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  • Racer X August 29, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Bring it on!…[say the Oregon Tax Payers in Wash State]…though how about a tunnel under the center city now that Big Bertha (Seattle) is looking for work before it gets shipped out of the country…

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  • John Liu
    John Liu August 29, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I would love a link to information about exactly what work is planned as part of this project, both freeway and local street/bike. I’m also interested in if there is potential for including other measures like tolling, HOV lane, diverters to discourage cut-through traffic on local streets.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Hi John. We’ve covered the details of the project in the past under the rubric of N/NE Quadrant project. Also keep in mind that it’s not at the refined designed/plan stage yet. That would come later.

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  • eawriste August 29, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    The bizarre thing with transportation is that these problems have been studied and fairly solid solutions have existed for many years. There is not much evidence to suggest expanding freeways will result in less congestion. What has worked by and large is congestion pricing. What is the cost of a tolling system vs $400 million freeway expansion?

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    • K Taylor August 29, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Yes – this is what I’d like to know too. And that’s revenue coming in for public agencies – – seems like a no-brainer to me.

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    • J August 30, 2017 at 11:51 am

      What are the impacts of tolling and who does it impact?

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      • soren August 30, 2017 at 12:46 pm

        No one is proposing tolling.

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 1:03 pm

          There are a number of comments in this thread that propose using tolls.

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      • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        What are the impacts of dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into a freeway enhancement, and who does it impact?

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

          Good question Dan!

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      • KTaylor August 30, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        GAO did a good study in 2012:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/commuting/gao-study-looks-at-impact-of-highway-tolls/2012/02/07/gIQAD16w3Q_story.html?utm_term=.381c5ac1e0a1

        Note the investigations into variable tolling. There are ways to make tolling more equitable for people with lower incomes.

        Congestion pricing is the wave of the future for cities, and tolling is currently its best-known public face. Metro has targets to substantially reduce vehicle miles traveled and emissions. I can’t imagine how they’re going to do that without making driving less attractive and other options better. Until motorized vehicles eat up less money and space, however, it won’t really be possible to bring other modes up to the same level of comfort and convenience as driving. Not only does congestion pricing discourage driving, it also generates needed revenue for those alternative travel modes.

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        • eawriste August 31, 2017 at 4:05 am

          http://iheartmoveny.org/

          Currently in NY there is bi-partisan support for lowering tolls on outer bridges (where transit is shitty) and increasing those entering Manhattan as well as tolling below 60th St. It appears the biggest hurdle is convincing De Blasio. Commercial vehicles would pay once regardless of how many times they commute, while SOVs pay each time. It’s a pretty good plan and appears to be equitable as well.

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  • ChrisG August 29, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Tolling needs to be closely studied before it is implemented. It risks pushing cars off the freeway and onto the old state routes like Hwy 99E, MLK, Sandy, Powell Blvd, Barbur, Interstate Ave. etc.

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    • Stephen Keller August 30, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Agreed, but tolls need to be applied to all metro-area roads and based on miles-traveled. Additionally, out-of-area commuters can’t get a free pass out of the deal. It would not be reasonable to build a system that encouraged people to move across the county line or the river to avoid paying for road use in the region.

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      • J August 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Do you think a lot of “out of area commuters” live out of the area and commute in because they can’t afford to live in the inner city? Do you think tolls would be an additional burden on people that are already struggling financially?

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        • Adam
          Adam August 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

          That seems like a reasonably easy problem to solve. Any tolling system would be electronic, so it should be easy to sign up for a reduced fare account, just as with transit. (Note “should be easy” – I’m sure Portland will find a way to complicate it). That, and the people living far outside of the city center have few options available to them. Portland buses are awful – they are slow and get stuck in traffic – while MAX is great, but doesn’t go to enough places.

          My ideal plan would include congestion tolling all highways, a reduced toll program for low-income, and feeding the toll revenues directly into improving our lackluster and unreliable transit system.

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        • soren August 30, 2017 at 12:43 pm

          No one is proposing tolling so please stop spreading misleading information.

          1. Congestion pricing *only* charges fees when traffic volumes are high.
          2. Congestion pricing can be a highly progressive policy and can be designed so that lower-income folk pay nothing (while receiving subsidies via increased funding of transit).

          http://blog.tstc.org/2007/10/31/data-proves-nyc-congestion-pricing-is-progressive-policy/

          I personally would like to see higher income people like me pay very high fees ($10-$100 based on income) and people below median family income pay nothing.

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  • Adam
    Adam August 29, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Oregon is so corrupt. These highway projects are just massive publicly-funded handouts to asphalt and construction companies. Even ODOT probably secretly knows that highway widening doesn’t work yet they use “congestion relief” as a way to get the public on board with their corruption.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Is Big Asphalt pulling the strings?

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      • Adam
        Adam August 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

        Yes, and they are also twisting our minds and smashing our dreams.

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        • Ryan August 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm

          About time this site had some Metallica references! 😀

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      • B. Carfree August 30, 2017 at 2:04 pm

        In Eugene, Big Asphalt in the form of the Wildish family is even on the (appointed, not elected) board of the local transit district. Yeah, I’d say they are likely pulling the strings.

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      • Bald One August 30, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Freight lobby, Rail Lobby, Oregon Farm export lobby, and their lap dogs in Salem, all want Central Portland to be their highway conduit to the world.

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm

          Where should their highway conduit to the world be?

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    • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Sometimes seems like ODOT’s job is to come up with ways to spend as much as possible, to justify their budget. If everyone started riding bikes tomorrow, ODOT would be in trouble.

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  • Keviniano August 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    The congestion is real. The real solution: tolls, tolls, tolls. Tolls that truly represent the full cost of the mode.

    I really love the pieces where congestion is likened to Soviet bread lines. It should not be free to use these already overburdened resources that dangle out the hope that the personally-owned single-occupancy internal combustion vehicle is the best way to get around.

    I’m all for the grassroots fight. In addition to that, I can’t help thinking that what would make it a slam dunk would be to get the freight lobby on board with the idea that *this* is the way they can get more capacity for hauling. Sadly it seems like the freight and personal car lobbies practically one and the same. Why is that? Is it simply the pervasiveness of car culture? A lack of imagination?

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    • Zach August 29, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      Lack of imagination. Politics is all about persuasion. That’s why nothing ever seems to get done—most people are just mad and loud about their own opinion. Until someone special comes along and says the right words to the right people…Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Jane Jacobs…that’s how culture changes.

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    • J August 30, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Tolls pose the most negative impact to those that can’t afford them, the people that are forced to live on the outskirts because they can’t afford to live in the inner city, but still have to commute in for work. Typically work that doesn’t pay all that well. It’s a burden imposed on those that can least afford it.

      Also, it’s not free for motor vehicles to use freeways or any roads. Drivers licenses, plates and tags, fuel taxes. To my knowledge, bicyclists don’t contribute to funding infrastructure in any specific way.

      Single-occupancy internal combustion vehicles aren’t going away. There will be more electric and autonomous vehicles on the road, but fully enclosed single occupancy vehicles aren’t going to go away.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 11:50 am

        “Any specific way” is very different than “any way”. Because cyclists do contribute in many ways. Just not through the gas tax.

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 11:54 am

          Exactly why I chose the words that I did. Motor vehicle users pay to fund road projects in specific ways. Everyone pays for them in other ways through other taxes and fees. And those comments are in response to the claim that motor vehicles use infrastructure without contributing to the cost, which is false.

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          • Adam
            Adam August 30, 2017 at 11:57 am

            They don’t contribute enough to the cost; that’s the problem. The amount that drivers pay into is less than the costs they impose; making driving a net loss. Cyclists contribute into the system and take nothing out, making cycling a net saving. By riding a bike instead of diving, I’m actually saving the state money.

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            • J August 30, 2017 at 12:12 pm

              I’d like to see your math. Your argument sounds pretty good. And it probably feels good. What do you think “enough” is, how much should motor vehicle users contribute to infrastructure spending? Proportionally motor vehicle users contribute more to infrastructure funding compared to other modes of transportation.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

                Of course, it gets more complicated when you consider that most cyclists are also motorists.

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              • Adam
                Adam August 30, 2017 at 12:23 pm

                I don’t have an exact number and I’m not a traffic engineer. Surely I benefit somewhat from the highway system too, even if I don’t use it, so I’m not even arguing I should pay zero. I think road users should pay proportionately to make up for the damage they cause. The only concrete answer to the question “how much should drivers pay” I can give you is “more than they are currently”.

                By the way, the argument about having your goods delivered by highway goes away if we pass a sales tax.

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              • B. Carfree August 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm

                With motoring taxes and fees paying for less than half of the building and maintenance costs for roads, and none of the other costs (enforcement, emergency services, health-related, environmental damage), how can anyone argue that motorists pay enough, especially here where weather damage is very minimal, (which means motor vehicles are doing almost all of the road damage)?

                http://www.frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/who-pays-roads

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      • Adam
        Adam August 30, 2017 at 11:51 am

        bicyclists don’t contribute to funding infrastructure in any specific way

        Not true. Much of our transportation funding comes out of the general fund, which everyone pays into. Also, notice how even though we just passed the bike tax, people are still trying to make the claim that “bicyclists don’t pay their fair share”.

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 11:59 am

          I’m not aware of the bicycle tax. Or wasn’t until you mentioned it. Aside from that, I stand by my comment. Every tax payer contributes to the general fund. That is why I said “specific.” And I do not mean and did not imply that bicyclists don’t contribute their fair share. Bicycles create less impact and should have less responsibility for constructing and maintaining infrastructure. Less, not none.

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          • Adam
            Adam August 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

            Yes, but why does it matter whether funds are specifically dedicated for something or not? It matter where the actual money comes from and where it’s spent.

            Many of our problems with funding could go away if Oregon would just pass a damn sales tax already.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 12:21 pm

              A sales tax is highly regressive.

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              • Adam
                Adam August 30, 2017 at 12:32 pm

                Preferable to having our infrastructure fall apart and transit service cut in a recession? Better than our insanely regressive property tax law? These are discussions we should be having, but instead we just froth at the mouth at the thought of any tax, and big corporations take advantage of this to prevent even corporate tax reform.

                A sales tax is also a good way to have tourists who visit Oregon contribute to the resources they use while they’re here. How much revenue did we miss out on when all the eclipse-viewers descended upon our state?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 30, 2017 at 1:47 pm

                Probably more regressive than “our insanely regressive property tax law”, which I assume you also support.

                That said, I support consumption taxes, and probably a sales tax, but I also know that we’re not getting one in the near future so I won’t waste my time advocating for one. That these taxes are regressive bothers me, but then so does consumption.

                Frothing is usually a sign of rabies.

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            • SteveL September 2, 2017 at 8:13 am

              Eliminate the income tax and then I would be OK with a sales tax.

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        • J August 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm

          It matters in the context of the conversation. It was stated previously that motor vehicles use roadways for free. This is not true.

          And you’re veering off on to a tangent, which I may or may not have an opinion on, but in any case it’s a different conversation and not pertinent to the p[articular topic.

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          • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm

            Automobile use is VERY heavily subsidized. Search google for ‘true cost of gas’ and do a little bit of your own research.

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            • J August 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm

              The oil and gas or fossil fuel industry, whatever you want to call it, is heavily subsidized no doubt. I’m sure the automobile industry gets subsidies in some shape or form. Those things are different than subsidizing automobile use.

              On another note, you seem to be kind of aggressive and combative with your comments Dan. For the most part I think I’ve been pretty cool in this conversation, trying to ask valid questions, challenging statements that I think are invalid without being completely indignant, offering ideas that are constructive. I’m trying. It’s a bit of an echo chamber though. Anyway, maybe I’m wrong. It seems like you’re being kind of a troll though. If that’s your intent, cool carry on. If you can work through that though and look at things with clear eyes and an open mind, honestly rather than by spinning things to suit your argument, then that’s cool too. If you want to enlighten me with some tidbit of information point me directly to it, don’t tell me to go google some vague topic. Convince me. Impress me. Or preach to the choir and ignore the converts.

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              • Dan A August 31, 2017 at 7:25 am

                It’s just not worth the time & effort to go through this whole discussion all over again every time someone comes in and says that drivers are paying their share.

                This will only take 5 minutes:

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RhYY_4Wzls

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      • Keviniano August 30, 2017 at 1:13 pm

        There’s a reason they’re called freeways. There is no additional cost for me to take I-5 vs my local street.

        Taxes and fees clearly are not covering the cost of the basic physical infrastructure, to say nothing of the externalities in terms of human health, environment, and quality of life. If they did, we wouldn’t have the congestion in the first place. See the link about the breadlines. This is a market problem and it can be improved with market-based solutions. You sound like you might be in favor of capitalism. What’s wrong with the basic premise that if you’re going to gain access to a top-tier resource, you pay for it?

        If there’s a public interest in getting lower income workers to employment centers (I agree with you on that), then that public money should be directed to the most cost-, space-, and resource-efficient means of providing that. For longer distances in the urban context, that would be transit, not highways.

        I’m not saying that single-occupancy internal combustion vehicles are going away (did you seriously read that in my comment?). I’m saying that the folks who opt for it should pay full freight for the pleasure. Right now, those folks are definitely not. If they did, you can bet that many would make different life choices that would reduce congestion and give more space over to freight. Like taking transit, biking, living closer to work, or finding work closer to home, etc.

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      • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 2:44 pm

        Wow, so many assumptions and non-truths. I’ll assume you haven’t been here long.

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  • rick August 29, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Sad to see 217 being widened again but without any kind of protected bike paths. Put a cap over I-5 in that urban neighborhood !

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  • rick August 29, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Hello ! The Pot of Portland is closed ! More semi trucks on freeways and North Portland roads of Lombard and Columbia.

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    • RMHampel August 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Add to that even cyclists are increasingly bottling up roads with freight vehicle traffic because they (like everyone else) buy much more stuff on Amazon, et al.

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  • jake August 29, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I gotta say that I have complicated feelings.

    On the one hand, it appears to include significant improvements to the surface streets for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is a horrible area to walk and bike in (and drive for that matter), so I’m pretty interested in those improvements. Additionally, my understanding is this project would include capping I-5 through the area. I am also strongly in favor of that.

    On the other, widening freeways, let alone a small segment of one freeway, is obviously not going to relieve congestion appreciably. It’s also a big price tag, especially depending on what improvements actually make it into the project. While I appreciate the opportunity cost argument, the truth is that if the money isn’t spent on this project, it isn’t suddenly going to be spent on active transportation, as much as I wish it would be.

    So I’m torn. I don’t think it’s an obviously-bad project. Or rather, I don’t think the cons obviously outweigh the pros. But I wish we had more information about what was going to be done …

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    • Beeblebrox August 30, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      Look up the Broadway/Weidler Facility Plan. There’s a pretty detailed plan, including freeway caps and ped/bike improvements. It was negotiated for several years and is a vast improvement over the horrible braided ramps mess that was originally proposed.

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  • Buzz August 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Removal of the Flint St. Bridge would be a great loss and should be fought at all costs.

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    • Beeblebrox August 30, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      Why?

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  • Tom Hardy August 29, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Personally I think the mistake was made in the 70’s by not routing I-5 into a tunnel before Terwilliger and routing it through an inter into an interchange to 26 and I-84 underground and come up in the vicinity of Columbia boulevard. The tunnels would have upper and lower decks with 2-3 lanes per deck. Leave the surface streets to local traffic. And do not use ventilation for the tunnels. Let the traffic push the air through.

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  • Kyle Banerjee August 30, 2017 at 6:15 am

    I gotta admit this makes more sense to me than many projects.

    This does not increase the total capacity of the road in either direction. After the expansion, the long tailbacks going into Washington will still be there. What it does do is significantly improve two really bad merges that are a major source of accidents and gum things up even when traffic is relatively light. It also brings some surface improvements in an area that needs them

    If you don’t want people filtering on surface streets, drivers need a sensible option. I don’t drive much, but when I do, I always check traffic — and frequently wind up avoiding major roads (including this section of I5) as surface streets are much faster.

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  • Mike Quigley August 30, 2017 at 6:20 am

    I’m still hoping for ten buck gas and rationing, and the Big One.

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    • RMHampel August 30, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Please don’t pray to the gods for “the big one”. It would leave much of this area virtually uninhabitable for years: not my idea of a good or thing.

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  • RobotGirl August 30, 2017 at 8:23 am

    I am always surprised this isn’t fully supported (not this specific proposal, the larger idea of fixing I-5 through RQ). Anyone who goes through there regularly knows it’s bad- and I truly pity through drivers who aren’t stopping off in the city. I’m a believer in road diets and don’t think adding capacity is always a solution, but we are talking about one of our only two interstate routes, and one of the few express north south routes we have- it is a stumper to me that we would choose to leave it a two-lane-each-way mess just on principle (think of the pollution generated at that one spot daily). It’s one thing to intentionally engineer a road with limited capacity, another to spitefully leave things in poor condition- it is not going to make people change habits, it is going to seem petty and short-sighted. I’m finally not making that commute daily anymore… though trading it for another, this time on 205. Have looked into Tri-Met and it is a 2-hour journey from upper NE to outer SE- less than ideal for a newly minted middle school son on his own. Ideal would be to go to a closer school perhaps, but our newly formed neighborhood option already turned up on the at-risk list. I’m saying this because I believe as much as having transportation options, we should look at why we make the journeys we do and why we feel we have to go so far for things we need. Having good schools all around the city (and jobs, and shopping, and services) would for me make it easier to consider transportation alternatives.

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    • Adam
      Adam August 30, 2017 at 9:13 am

      spitefully leave things in poor condition

      This is basically how Portland treats cycling infrastructure and public transport, too. Yet, it is highways that tend to get the most attention. Why is that?

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      • SteveL September 2, 2017 at 7:45 am

        Cars are the most versatile, time-efficient, and utilitarian mode of local transportation, serving the most people. Sure, improve bike transportation, but please don’t actively seek to ruin someone else’s life just because she doesn’t bike a couple miles to work.

        Also, cars are better in the winter. Most people don’t want to get drenched and cold every single day commuting in November-March. That’s a very significant portion of the year.

        I can’t ride my bike to work. I live too far away, and I have to bring equipment with me which is impossible to carry on a bicycle. Try a little empathy some time: put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Everyone is unique and not everyone is exactly like you. The Left is so condescending, self-righteous, arrogant, and intolerant.

        Let’s work to make transportation better and more efficient for ALL people, not just an elitist fringe.

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        • Dan A September 2, 2017 at 9:28 am

          “Let’s work to make transportation better and more efficient for ALL people, not just an elitist fringe.”

          You realize that this sentiment applies to ALTERNATIVE modes of transportation, right? Not cars.

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    • soren August 30, 2017 at 10:11 am

      “think of the pollution generated at that one spot daily”

      a powerful argument against this project: building more freeway lanes in the central city will increase pollution at that one spot daily.

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      • J August 30, 2017 at 11:34 am

        What creates more pollution, more motor vehicles moving (in a shorter amount of time) or fewer idling in place (actually the same number (and taking longer))?

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        • Allan Rudwick August 30, 2017 at 11:53 am

          well what you actually get is more vehicles idling int he newly created roadway. as much as this thing is supposed to ‘ease’ congestion’ it won’t actually have a measurable effect on congestion. The traffic modelling software that was used was hard-pressed to find any benefit to this project at all.

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          • J August 30, 2017 at 12:01 pm

            Traffic modelling software is what it is. The methodology used in any kind of analysis like this is flawed at best.

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        • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 2:47 pm

          Fallacy. Do you work for the National Motorists Association?

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          • J August 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm

            Facts?

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            • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 3:18 pm

              It’s a fallacy, because the more wide open freeways are, the further away people will live, the more frequently they will choose to drive, and the more frequently they will drive at peak hours.

              Many, many people drive more than they need to, and could do a better time of combining trips or adjusting their schedules. I know a number of people at my work who insist on driving in at 8 or 8:30 when there is no reason for them to do so. They could just as easily come in at 6am like I do and leave work earlier in the day. Apparently when they have to decide between waking up early and driving in congestion, they prefer congestion. Think about that for a moment. We are supposed to dump hundreds of millions of dollars into this so people can sleep in a bit longer?

              IF you magically reduce congestion at peak hours, you will only induce more people to drive at peak times.

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              • J August 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm

                Thanks Dan. I’m aware of the idea that more and wider freeways in outlying areas increase traffic. In those areas. Spurred by residential development. Spurred by increased road capacity. I don’t know that the same concept applies to an already developed area though. This particular section of road is already over capacity. And I haven’t seen any meaningful ideas for reducing the number of vehicles in this area. And yes, many people drive that don’t need to, no argument there. As far as having flexible schedules, that’s not an option for most people. It’s a great idea and one that we should do what we can to expand, not just for traffic and congestion, but for other quality of life reasons as well.

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              • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 7:13 pm

                I drive through the rose quarter frequently and have no trouble. Plenty of capacity for me. It’s no secret how I do it either.

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              • SteveL September 2, 2017 at 7:35 am

                Insufficient sleep is a public health crisis. People need more sleep. Also, many people cannot simply show up to work and leave whenever they feel like it, unfortunately.

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              • Dan A September 2, 2017 at 1:42 pm

                Ah, but many people CAN and choose not to. And when I need to get up early, I go to sleep early. You know, like an adult.

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        • Bald One August 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm

          Semi trucks that are exempt from any type of emissions abatement cause pollution. These are the typical heavy semi trucks I see driving all over Portland – ancient trucks belching out thick black clouds of toxic gas. This transportation bill was a total failure in missing the opportunity to upgrade the statewide diesel emission standards to equal that of California. These old local haul trucks preferred by the rail and farm export lobby are just the ones that need to get rapidly phased out from our streets. And don’t get me started on whether these truckers are paying fair share of gas taxes – voluntary compliance and record keeping with next to no enforcement or oversight. These truckers and the industries they support are getting the best free ride of all from Salem while using Portland as a door mat.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 9:08 am

    UPDATE, 8/30 at 9:05 am: The No More Freeways coalition has launched with a letter to Portland City Council. Read all about it in our latest post.

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  • Alex August 30, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Thank you. The freeways are so awful every morning and afternoon, I cannot stand it.

    Glad actions are finally being taken.

    One more thing… PLEASE pass a bill regarding lane splitting! This would encourage all of the people with motorcycles to drive them which in turn would relieve traffic AND reduce emissions (motorcycles are WAY more efficient and with traffic moving faster would decrease emissions from all other vehicles in traffic).

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    • J August 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Lane splitting, YES. I like to call it lane sharing though. Sharing sounds nicer than splitting. Motorcycles are not WAY more efficient though, at least not in terms of emissions. They do have a lot of other benefits though and probably more in common with human powered two wheelers than with 4 (or more) wheeled motorized contraptions.

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      • Alex Tappin August 30, 2017 at 4:43 pm

        I call it either lane sharing or splitting.

        Well, in my case, the motorcycle I want to get achieves 115mpg while the car I currently drive achieves 16mpg 😉

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        • J_R August 31, 2017 at 8:54 am

          A car that achieves only 16 mpg should simply not be allowed to be registered. There is no reason for such an inefficient car. How many miles do you need to ride your motorcycle to make up for your 16 mpg car instead of owning one that achieves 30 mpg?

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          • Alex Tappin August 31, 2017 at 9:49 am

            Big trucks average 5-7mpg, yet they are able to drive on the road, carrying 3 huge trailers behind it while damaging the roads and blocking flow of traffic… Until this is banned, I will still drive my fun 16mpg car lol

            If there were no traffic I would get 25 instead of 16 (if I drive like a grandma).

            In terms of motorcycle vs 30mpg car. A motorcycle/scooter would use 3-4 times less gas than a car that averages 30mpg and 6-8 times less than a car that averages 16mpg.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 31, 2017 at 11:51 pm

              Those three huge trailers can carry a lot more than your truck, so the overall work done with that low mpg vehicle far exceeds what you can do (i.e. carry one or two people) in your 16mpg truck. If someone was commuting in a triple-trailer, you’d probably have a point.

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              • Alex Tappin September 1, 2017 at 12:15 am

                I do not have a truck, I have a 2500 lb car. Those trucks weigh tons more, destroying roads at the same time. Maybe we should tax the driving companies instead for road repair?

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    • Dan A August 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      I hope you are taking actions to relieve congestion too…

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      • Alex Tappin August 30, 2017 at 7:29 pm

        Yes, I moved out of NE Portland lol

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      • J August 30, 2017 at 7:32 pm

        Awe, Dan. Really? That sounds like what you are implying is that you hope I lane split and get killed. Is that really the type of human you are?

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        • Dan A August 31, 2017 at 7:28 am

          My comment has nothing to do with lane splitting, so I’m not sure where you got that from. I meant exactly what I said. What are you doing to relieve congestion? I think we all have a responsibility to help out.

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  • Veen August 30, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Couple of minor copy issues.

    > which is five miles over the legal limit

    Please, miles per hour. Mile is a unit of distance, miles per hour is a unit of speed.

    > ODOT’s main promise

    Premise.

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  • Allan Rudwick August 30, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    There is a high value in connecting places… this is why road-building has been a successful investment over most of the course of human history. However there is quite a low value in speeding those trips up marginally, and an even lower value if those benefits are only useful for a small part of the day. This project would produce almost no benefit and it would cost $700 per man/woman/child in the City of Portland, or $100 per person in Oregon, if you prefer. There is no way that this is how we should be spending our money.

    All of that being said if we had an earthquake take down this entire interchange, we might want to take this plan off the shelf and implement it. That is all the plan is good for.

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  • SteveL September 2, 2017 at 7:30 am

    The anti-car crowd is ridiculous. Sounds exactly like Neil Goldschmidt/East Germany/USSR. You all want to force people to ride bikes and walk. While I participate in both walking and biking, it’s unrealistic for me to bike to work. I live too far from my work to bike (I can’t even afford to live in the city limits of Portland thanks to the Leftist-self-imposed artificial housing shortage) , and I have to bring work equipment with me which is impossible to carry on a bicycle.

    Why are you all so anti-car? I’m all for freedom, and I support all of the above: walk, bike, bus, car, row, fly, etc., whatever makes you happy. Some people value their limited time off too much to spend all day on a painfully slow form of transportation. It’s dishonest to claim that cars and walk/bike/bus cannot coexist; we can and should seek to improve transportation for ALL people, not just an elitist fringe of tree-hugging yuppie and hippie walkers and bikers.

    Try a little empathy: think of people with lots of kids, disabled people who can’t bike, people who can’t afford to live near their work. Ride a bike all you want, but please don’t actively seek to make other people’s lives worse.

    Time is the most precious thing we have; it’s very limited and goes by fast.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 2, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Time is so precious, yet you choose to waste it commenting on this site.

      I’m going to take my own advice, and head out to join my fellow Leftists to do our bit to make the housing shortage worse. Enjoy your day!

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    • Dan A September 2, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Oooh, name calling and hyperbolic exaggeration! Time is precious and not worth wasting with a long response. El Biciclero would do a better job at it anyway.

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    • Josh September 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Exactly right! Anything that smooths out merging issues is a win, and if it comes with a lot of surface street improvements then it’s a double win. All the anti comments I have read basically boil down to “making it easier to drive is bad, mmkay”. As a cyclist and motorist, nothing turns me away from your position more than this self-righteous attitude that everyone can and should be forced to adopt your lifestyle because you have made their lives sufficiently hard enough.

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      • SD September 20, 2017 at 10:10 pm

        If this is your conclusion, then you have missed something in the process of boiling things down.

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