Showers Pass Warehouse Sale

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).

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“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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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JeffS
Guest
JeffS

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.

John P
Guest
John P

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

One lane disappears?

Peter Michaelson
Guest
Peter Michaelson

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.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

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

Chris
Guest
Chris

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.

J
Guest
J

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.

Chris
Guest
Chris

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.

J
Guest
J

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

Speaking of assumptions and opinions…..

J
Guest
J

What’s you point Dan?

J
Guest
J

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

BradWagon
Subscriber

Hopefully for some, out of their cars.

J
Guest
J

Hope in one hand…

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

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.

soren
Guest
soren

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?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Other people feel they are needed.

soren
Guest
soren

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.

wsbob
Guest

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.

Adam
Subscriber

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?

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

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.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

we’ve heard this for a long time.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

So we are done for by 2030 then?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I sure hope not.

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

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…

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

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.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

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?

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

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.

J
Guest
J

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

soren
Guest
soren

No one is proposing tolling.

J
Guest
J

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

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

J
Guest
J

Good question Dan!

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

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.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

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.

ChrisG
Guest
ChrisG

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.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

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.

J
Guest
J

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?

Adam
Subscriber

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.

soren
Guest
soren

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.

Adam
Subscriber

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Is Big Asphalt pulling the strings?

Adam
Subscriber

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

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

About time this site had some Metallica references! 😀

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

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.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

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.

J
Guest
J

Where should their highway conduit to the world be?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

Keviniano
Subscriber
Keviniano

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?

Zach
Guest
Zach

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.

J
Guest
J

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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

J
Guest
J

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.

Adam
Subscriber

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.

J
Guest
J

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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

Adam
Subscriber

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.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

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

Adam
Subscriber

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”.

J
Guest
J

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.

Adam
Subscriber

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

A sales tax is highly regressive.

Adam
Subscriber

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?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

SteveL
Guest
SteveL

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

J
Guest
J

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

J
Guest
J

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

Keviniano
Subscriber
Keviniano

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

rick
Guest
rick

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 !

rick
Guest
rick

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

RMHampel
Guest
RMHampel

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.

jake
Subscriber
jake

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 …

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

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.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

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

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

Why?

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

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.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

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.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

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

RMHampel
Guest
RMHampel

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.

RobotGirl
Guest
RobotGirl

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.

Adam
Subscriber

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?

SteveL
Guest
SteveL

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

“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.

soren
Guest
soren

“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.

J
Guest
J

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))?

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

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.

J
Guest
J

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

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Fallacy. Do you work for the National Motorists Association?

J
Guest
J

Facts?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

J
Guest
J

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

SteveL
Guest
SteveL

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

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.

Alex
Guest
Alex

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).

J
Guest
J

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.

Alex Tappin
Guest
Alex Tappin

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 😉

J_R
Guest
J_R

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?

Alex Tappin
Guest
Alex Tappin

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Alex Tappin
Guest
Alex Tappin

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?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I hope you are taking actions to relieve congestion too…

Alex Tappin
Guest
Alex Tappin

Yes, I moved out of NE Portland lol

J
Guest
J

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?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

Veen
Guest
Veen

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.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

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.

SteveL
Guest
SteveL

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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!

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

Josh
Guest
Josh

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.

SD
Guest
SD

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