The Flint Avenue bikeway and bridge — a popular route from north/northeast Portland that will be torn down if the I-5 Rose Quarter project moves forward — will be the site of a protest rally Tuesday morning. The event is being co-hosted by No More Freeways and BikeLoud PDX.
Organizers want to raise the profile of opposition to the $450 freeway expansion ahead of a City Council hearing on Thursday where Mayor Ted Wheeler and commissioners are set to adopt amendments to the Central City 2035 plan.
No More Freeways says the I-5 Rose Quarter project is an, “unnecessary, counterproductive $450 million freeway boondoggle.” The Flint Avenue bridge has become a focus of their campaign not only because it’s a cycling route but also because of the “vital connection” it offers to Harriet Tubman Middle School, a Portland Public School set to re-open to students this fall.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says the bridge must go in order to widen I-5. Once Flint is gone, ODOT says they’ll build a new bikeway that will cross over I-5 between Hancock and Dixon. For the thousands of riders who enter the central city from southbound Vancouver, this means you’ll no longer jog onto Flint before going right onto Broadway. The new Hancock-Dixon bridge would be higher at its midpoint than Flint and would require a bit of a climb — especially up from Dixon.
Last month we published a post from freeway critic and Portland-based economist Joe Cortright. He says ODOT’s plans will, “sever an important local street” and its removal runs counter to claims made by project backers and Mayor Wheeler that the wider freeway and related street projects will “reconnect the community.”
In addition to the loss of street connectivity, No More Freeways is highlighting air quality issues at Tubman school. A recent article from environmental journalism outlet Cascadia Times reported that despite the desire from Tubman School advocates to build a new sound and pollution wall between I-5 and their campus, ODOT says there won’t be enough room once they add the new lanes:
“In a recent meeting, two senior Oregon Department of Transportation engineers informed Portland Public Schools that any pollution-mitigation wall the school district might build below Harriet Tubman School to try to block some portion of the toxic emissions coming off Interstate-5 may not survive the highway’s proposed Rose Quarter expansion…
While the pollution-cutting impact of a tall wall – similar to the “noise walls” seen alongside highways – is uncertain, PPS sees it as the best potential bet to shield students outside the Tubman building from roadway emissions. Pending input from an environmental consultant, the district is also considering adding trees to the mix to boost the pollution-cutting effect. A wall would cost around $750,000; trees another approximately $250,000, Vincent said.
It’s unclear if the district would spend that money for measures that may last only five years…”
There are several clean air and environmental organizations among the 30 who support the No More Freeways campaign. They include: the Audubon Society of Portland, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Neighbors for Clean Air, Eastside Portland Air Coalition, Climate Justice Collaborative, and 350PDX.
Instead of more lanes that will make driving easier and more convenient, the coalition is pushing for congestion pricing on the existing lanes with the revenue going toward “robust investments” in public transit, biking and walking.
At Tuesday’s rally, No More Freeways promises coffee and donuts, and the opportunity to sign their petition they will deliver to City Hall at the January 18th hearing.
Learn more at NoMoreFreewaysPDX.com.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Someone claimed in comments to a recent article on this boondoggle here that the $450 million was only to study it not the actual costs. I’ve never heard or read that anywhere else. Can you clarify?
That claim is wrong. At this point it’s still too early to know how much it will cost. $450 million is just the best guesstimate everyone is using. But it’s certainly not $450 million just to plan. The failed CRC project spent $200 million over many years.
This bridge removal would remove a north / south link which the Portland area generally lacks.
“Organizers want to raise the profile of opposition to the $450 freeway expansion…”
That actually sounds like a bargain.
Vision-Zero in action! (The fewer zeros you see, the better.)
In November, Matt Grumm from Dan Saltzman’s office said “We want this project to happen. We have no problem with adding two lanes and shoulders”. The health and air quality impact on Harriet Tubman Middle school is no concern to any of our elected officials on City Council. Wheeler, Eudaly, Fritz, and Fish have not spoken about any of the negative environmental, health, transportation and equity impact from this freeway widening project. PBOT staff and other proponents will say the project is worth supporting because of the new Dixon-Hancock bike connection other other local street improvements. But that is a flawed argument. It is like saying we should support investment in more coal power plants because some of the funding will be spent on new electric car charging stations.
“because some of the funding will be spent on new electric car charging stations.”
Which, when all is said and done, would probably be fueled by coal or fracked gas or some other fossil fuel anyway…
Those pesky life-cycle analyses. It is difficult to find something that is not eventually linked to oil.
“It is difficult to find something that is not eventually linked to oil.”
If you don’t try you learn nothing but hopelessness.
I am sure you know enough about economics to know that at a certain point, there won’t be a choice (substitute goods).
“…at a certain point”
Are you thinking in terms of time? As in, we’re going to run out of options one of these days? Because you won’t be surprised to learn that I agree with that.
I would not be surprised at all – you’re a very intelligent individual.
Electric vehicles in Oregon have roughly 1/3rd the carbon intensity of a gasoline vehicle in terms of the fuel they use. While our electricity is about as carbon intense as gasoline on a lifecycle basis (see: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs/cfp-electrutil.pdf ), the electric engines are a bit over 3 times as energy-efficient as internal combustion engines — so for a gasoline gallon-equivalent amount of energy they can go three times as far and are a significant improvement.
Most (not all) readers of this blog choose to ignore these facts. Anti EV bias here is quite apparent.
But we no longer live in an empty world, where the resources to build and fuel a fleet of hundreds of millions of yet-to-be-produced EVs are just lying about, ready for the taking. We already squandered the cheap ancient sunlight on a technology that we now recognize is our undoing. Trying to redouble our efforts, but this time ’round with EVs, isn’t going to work. We are out of time, out of resources, and out of atmosphere into which to dump all the byproducts.
The alternative is to continue on as we are, which we all know won’t work.
De-energizing the economy is unlikely to happen; I think many would rather pass on a hot planet to our children. If there is no third way, then, well… it was fun while it lasted!
While there may be perfectly legitimate concerns to this project, I don’t see any added air quality risks to Tubman. PPS is already looking at overhauling the entire HVAC system at that school to mitigate concerns about air intake (focusing on high level filtering).
What about when the kid’s are at recess. Are they going to build a filtered biodome inclosing the recess area.
The tentative plan for Tubman has been to build an additional wall between the school and I5. ODOT is saying any wall would have to come down the expansion. It’s not just the interior air quality that’s of concern, but the air quality when kids are outside before, during, and after school.
It won’t happen. Like Trump’s grandiose schemes. No money, no plan, no commitment.
Glad to see you finally dipping a journalistic/blog toe into the many air quality issues associated with Portland biking. I think that’s two mentions in the last month – perhaps as many as the last couple of years on your site, as far as I remember.
I’m not sure about anyone else, but the various pockets of awful air pollution in this city are a contributing reason I sometimes choose not to ride. The area around the Rose Quarter is certainly one of these pollution pockets. I would certainly like to see more attention to this issue from regional leaders.
“awful air pollution in this city are a contributing reason I sometimes choose not to ride”
Given that the alternatives to riding a bike (for the most part) contribute to that bad air quality I guess this is one of those my lungs vs everyone else’s lungs situations.
Au contraire. If vehicles are moving very slowly or perpetually stuck in jams, air quality concerns here seem to disappear. So by joining the jams, he may be helping… 😉
In any case, Portland’s air is nowhere near a level at which it is actually better for the vast majority of people to not exercise
How does joining a traffic jam make it better? Makes as much sense as driving a vehicle designed to run smoothly at 60+ MPH in an environment where it’s going 10 MPH and stopping a lot.
Yet so many people here seem committed to making exactly that happen.
When vehicles are running their motors and going nowhere, there’s plenty of discussion about why vehicular throughput is more than adequate and that maybe we should slow them down even more. What you don’t see is people concerned about large vehicles pumping poison into the air.
Alan 1.0 said it well last summer:
“In any case, Portland’s air is nowhere near a level at which it is actually better for the vast majority of people to not exercise”
It sounds like you are arguing that there are no areas in the Portland area that have chronic pollution levels that are likely to pose a health risk.
If so, do you have any evidence to support this claim.
I would also be very interest in your critique of the DEQ Portland Air Toxics Assessment!
Anyone is free to use whatever information sources they choose keeping in mind that seeking/trusting only those sources that validate preconceived notions and ignoring or distorting those that disagree is the opposite of research and intellectually dishonest to boot.
If this makes it through moderation, I welcome the usual response from the usual suspects…
I completely agree with you.
Multnomah County has some of the dirtiest air in the country. Mostly from particulates.
Now you’re just being particular.
Yes, DEQ needs to expand testing and provide more localized and temporal data. There is a level of constant pollution in the Portland metro, but it’s far worse in some areas of town and on some days. If you ride along the central east side during rush hours, I expect you routinely encounter some of the worst air; but if you are riding along anywhere next to a lot of idling cars or puffing up a hill through a cloud of black smoke left in your midst by one polluting diesel rig, your immediate exposure goes way up. It’s very circumstantial. Yes, exercise is good, even in typical/average Portland air, but no, huffing lots of up-close auto exhaust fumes is bad, especially if you are breathing hard due to exercise. My typical commute takes me through many places in Portland I would rather not be breathing hard, especially on days when the pollution hangs around. Rose Quarter area is one of these.
You can read the data, buy you can also taste it in your mouth and feel it in your eyes.
There is an ongoing effort to clean up our air. Consider signing here to support:
Neighbors for Clean Air has made making comments very easy from this link:
Hmm, you’re probably not gonna love to hear that cyclists and pedestrians outside of vehicles typically are exposed to a lower amount of traffic related pollutants than those inside of vehicles.
Do you have a link to this Brad? I’d love to read more about it.
Here’s a starting point. Funny enough, I first heard of this a quarter-century ago from an earlier article in the Berkeley Wellness Letter.
You’re right, I’m not going to love it, because it isn’t true.
From the abstract:
>>> We found that UFP [ultrafine particles] concentrations during bus, bicycling, and train commutes were 1.6–5.3 times greater than personal vehicle commutes. The largest exposure per mile occurred during bicycle commutes… <<<
So yes, ride your bike, but don't gloat that car drivers are exposed to more pollutants.
“A range of experiments, some as far back as 2001, have shown that drivers inside vehicles are exposed to far higher levels of air pollution than those walking or cycling along the same urban routes.”
“There are multiple benefits to be gained. But parents are confused at the moment because they think there is less pollution in cars than outside, which is not the case.”
Lots of linked studies here:
Looking through the link you attached does offer some evidence cycling can lead to higher exposure compared to a car that has a sophisticated ventilation system however also mentions that cycling away from major traffic sources can have the same reduction (unless you ride the shoulder of SB I-5 in the morning.. idk). Also doesn’t seem to mention VOC’s coming from materials inside the vehicle which isn’t typically thought of as “traffic related” its definitely significant enough to be considered. From what I’ve read I am pretty ok with riding my bike through neighborhoods, parks and surface streets compared to joining the exhaust processional down the highway.
Cars have cabin filters. If the windows are closed, the occupant is probably getting less exposure than someone outside.
I would also like too see more on that. It amazes me that pollution caused by cars at the local level does not receive more attention from anyone, including the city. One spot that I find deeply problematic is where the south east waterfront essentially runs right next to the highway. I ran there once, never again.
Cars are not the cause of our bad pollution levels. Diesel engines and wood smoke from heating and fireplaces are. And, of course, the toxics emitted by industry, but cyclists are primarily impacted by particulates.
It’s all a bunch of hot air.
“Cars are not the cause of our bad pollution levels.”
Can you please provide a citation that defines “bad pollution levels” and explains why car emissions are not a “cause” of this.
“but cyclists are primarily impacted by particulates.”
Please provide a citation to defend your use of “primarily”.
The information is out there and readily available. I am curious if you choose to accept it or not.
Lots of information ‘out there’ – which of it do *you* believe?
It seems that it often boils down to that, doesn’t it? We choose to accept what supports our internal narrative and beliefs and discount everything else.
Because golly, we can’t possibly be wrong if we believe we are right.
And I would like to add, it is a particularly difficult endeavor, the more earnest the person is in their beliefs – e.g., you can pretty much never convince a zealot otherwise.
Except you are eliding the fact that we’ve discovered these things called facts, not to mention argument. Your conception suggests we are incapable of learning. I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve learned an incalculable amount as a reader of bikeportland (comments). I am not the person I was when I started reading this blog oh, I don’t know 8 or 9 years ago.
I am not insinuating we are incapable of learning at all. I am stating that, in many cases, people are reluctant to learn because (if they are rational and objective) they may have to change their minds based upon the new information. So they reject it, instead.
It sure is hard to argue with you when you have a very consistent pattern here of reversing yourself. First you wrote:
“We choose to accept what supports our internal narrative and beliefs and discount everything else.”
“I am not insinuating we are incapable of learning at all.”
Did I misunderstand?
You didn’t misunderstand at all. My point is that learning is difficult, if that learning contradicts what one wants to be true.
I believe the opposite, so you’re going to have a hard time convincing me you’re right.
“We choose to accept what supports our internal narrative and beliefs and discount everything else.”
“you can pretty much never convince a zealot”
“learning is difficult, if that learning contradicts what one wants to be true.”
I guess what baffles me is that you seem to think that ‘we’ are more like zealots than like the kind of people we (presumably) imagine ourselves to be, people with whom one could conduct an interesting conversation, where both of us learn things we didn’t know when the conversation began.
If we assume everyone is a zealot, so defined, why even have conversations at all?
A zealot never believes they are a zealot, they just believe everyone else is wrong and cannot be convinced otherwise.
Well now we know.
But you, what brings you here? What do you get out of the conversations here? How do you understand the value and meaning of matching wits here, of hashing things out?
To clarify my comments, by pollution, I meant in the conventional sense, excluding CO2. I also limited my measure of harm to immediate harm from traffic related pollutants, again excluding CO2.
Particulates are the most serious traffic-related pollution in Portland, and gasoline engines emit very few. Yes, there are some emitted from tires and brake linings (which is why electric cars, with their greater weight, emit more particulates than lighter gasoline cars), but the bulk of particulates in our air come from diesel (trucks, trains, construction machinery, etc.) and wood smoke (stoves, fireplaces, etc.).
If you were to include the harms and indirect effects of CO2 emissions, the entire equation changes, and everyone loses.
i was specifically referring to the apparent claim that particulates might be more a cause of concern than other air toxics. to the best of my knowledge there are few direct comparisons of relative risk.
So I’m clear, you are suggesting (but not necessarily asserting) that other contaminants (industrial pollution, perhaps?) are more of a threat than particulate pollution (in the context of a Portland cyclist? General context?).
nope. my read of the literature is that we do not have enough high quality epidemiological data and/or understanding of how to best model this data to make strong claims with respect to relative risk.
Well, I’ll stand by my original claim that cars are not major emitters of dangerous pollutants at the local level, at least in Portland.
In the Portland area the EPA HAPEM7 model identified Acrolein as the pollutant with the most adjusted respiratory health risk (per million) and Formaldehyde as the pollutant with the most adjusted health risk (per million) for cancer.
Details on the NATA methodology:
Not surprisingly published modeling of pollution risk for these and other diseases (and for overall mortality) also vary.
once again the relative disease risk of particulates is rarely compared with the relative risk of other major traffic-related pollutants (e.g. hydrocarbons and gaseous pollutants).
What are “gaseous” pollutants?
sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3) are the major ones.
Two major categories: autos burning gasoline producing benzenes and butadienes; diesel burning making particulates as well as formaldehyde and related compounds. Both producing NOx compounds leading to ground level ozone on hot sunny days. I think diesel generally also can carry along heavy metals on the particulates, such as arsenic, nickel, cadmium. So, pick your poison: particulates or reactive chemicals (would you rather huff fumes or black soot?). I think modern car cabin air filter systems (if appropriate filters are used and maintained) can remove particulates, but do nothing to remove the reactive materials (perhaps very frequent replacement of active charcoal cabin air filters can mitigate some of these, also).
Yes, and wood smoke can be bad for metro air, also.
Failure of government to protect people in Portland from bad air. Jurisdictions over air and Salem politics leave us here in Portland to continue to suffer. The DEQ vehicle test program must be expanded to cover diesel and large trucks – forcing an upgrade to old, dirty engines and local permitting of out of state commercial operators. The problem of stopped traffic jams on Portland roads is a serious problem, but the solution to the freeway issue is not expansion of lanes, but rather tolling and use fees; as well as increase in gas and diesel taxes and actual enforcement of commercial fuel tax collection on diesel commercial rigs.
I’ll keep this in mind the next time I’m commuting along someone’s rooftop and they are burning their wood stove.
Do you think you only get exposed to diesel emissions if you ride your bike on top of a truck?
The problem with wood smoke is that, like you, so many people dismiss it. That makes addressing the problem more difficult.
Wood smoke is an interesting subject. As someone who heats with wood in a dense urban area I’ve learned a thing or two. No Visible Smoke is an excellent indicator that complete or very nearly complete combustion is occurring. With a decent wood stove this is achievable once the firebox temperature has reached a certain level. A wood stove with good practices and dry fire wood is or can correspond to orders of magnitude less pollution than a fireplace, never mind one stoked by someone who has no clue about best practices or dry firewood.
No visible smoke is good, but PM2.5 (and smaller, which are the most dangerous particles) are invisible. You are right that good practices (including using truly dry wood) can help a lot. You can also apply pollution controls to the exhaust stack to make wood burning much safer yet — catalytic converters and electrostatic particle removers are both available.
But the fundamental problem remains — we should not be burning wood in an urban environment. There are safer ways to do it, yes, but not doing it all is still better.
Also, from a climate change standpoint it is not necessarily a win– carbon soot causes heat retention; and if even one person gets sick, the energy and materiel spent treating them would likely exceed the annual CO2 savings over other heat sources.
“we should not be burning wood in an urban environment.”
This is an interesting hypothesis. I think we might all agree that insulating to the point where space heating is no longer necessary might win, but in pursuit of that long term objective I think burning wood trumps all other alternatives (fracked gas I think being the local approach with the greatest market share). The point being with that approach we internalize the incentive to do it right because it is our air we’d be endangering with poor practices, whereas burning fracked gas wrecks someone else’s groundwater or livelihood, not to mention all of our climate, so the feedback is lost.
It’s a less clear win if factor in the impacts of pollution on your neighbors. You claim that when things are going well, there is little visible pollution; I would posit you don’t really know how much you’re emitting. What happens when you are starting the fire, or you let it burn down, or don’t tend it? I suspect there might be some self-delusion in exactly how clean your wood stove is.
Insulate your house, wear a sweater, and get a heat pump.
“I would posit you don’t really know how much you’re emitting.”
I never claimed I did. I only said and I stand by that—as it comes to me on excellent authority—that the absence of visible smoke is a very good proxy.
“What happens when you are starting the fire, or you let it burn down, or don’t tend it?”
Of course. No argument. But I have control over this, can hone my skills, etc. My point in going down this road was to illustrate how the details matter, that a broad brush ‘all wood combustion is terrible’ is not only unhelpful but ignorant and misleading.
“I suspect there might be some self-delusion in exactly how clean your wood stove is.”
That is always a possibility.
“Insulate your house, wear a sweater”
“and get a heat pump.”
Yuck. And what are you proposing to pipe into that heat pump?
Heat, of course! 🙂
OK, then what is heating the heat you are feeding your heat pump? 😉
…and if you are tempted to say electricity I’m going to ask you to trouble yourself to interrogate that happy word a bit more.
If you are in Portland, probably this:
I am not dismissing wood stoves, I have one an am very careful to keep it burning hot, use dry wood, and only on days when it is cold enough to significantly warrant it’s use over my natural gas furnace. But in terms of noticeable irritants I rarely notice a homes chimney emissions when cycling.
And I would expect to get very few diesel emissions if I were riding on the top of the truck compared to where I actually ride my bike which is often directly in the path of rear passenger side exhausts. My previous comments on this issue are directed towards “on the road” directly noticeable irritants, not necessarily regional air quality overall, which pretty much affects everyone throughout their day regardless of how they got to work.
“only on days when it is cold enough to significantly warrant it’s use over my natural gas furnace.”
I’m curious about that part.
A fire burning all day or even just the afternoon and evening will keep our house quite warm. This is great for days when it’s pretty cold because our furnace doesn’t have the best insulation around the ducts and it would be running pretty constantly on cold days.
When it’s only in the 40’s or 50’s the furnace does fine and doesn’t have to run that much. So for now I try and balance the cost and efficiency loss of burning gas with the hassle / emissions of the stove. Long term we need a better furnace and another few inches of insulation in the attic. (And I would be more than happy to not deal with tending a fire as often.)
Good stuff. Thanks.
I’m going to ask if Jonathan can put us in touch, let us continue this conversation off line.
Kitty, there is the issue of how many cars are producing x amount versus how many trucks are producing y amounts. It’s like with GHGs…CO2 has a greater cumulative effect simply due to the amount (compared to Methane, for instance). I think you probably meant to include that…but I wanted to draw the distinction.
Is the Flint Street Bridge really a “vital connection” to the school? It always seemed like basically a one way street because of the nearly non-existent travel from the south end of the bridge. I’ll allow that maybe I just wasn’t traveling it at the times where it was busy in both directions.
I use it both ways (on my bike) but granted, it’s more difficult to access, travelling North. A fair number of people in cars turn onto Flint right after exiting from South bound I-5, and some turn off West bound Broadway as well.
Sure, because these are middle school kids, some of whom will need to access the Rose Quarter and the transportation options there.
I-5 through Portland, already seems to be at peak congestion during commute hours. Has for years, decades actually. Because this highway isn’t just a local use road, but an actual interstate highway used by many people outside of Portland, that don’t even have Portland as their destination. This being the case, it doesn’t seem likely the addition of exit lanes on the short section of I-5 adjacent to the RQ, will increase current congestion.
Congestion being at peak now, it’ll probably stay basically the same, except that people seeking to turn off the highway to go to the RQ, might be able to do so a little quicker than they do now, and with possibly less disturbance to the flow of traffic arising from those that currently have to transition from left lanes to the right lane to be prepared for the exit. The lanes to be added will allow people with RQ their destination, to be off I-5 in advance of where they leave the highway in its current configuration.
A better bikeway than what’s planned to date for this project, likely could be devised. 450 billion is a chunk of change. Lots of people, logically would be interested in seeing this project go forward. Lots of working class people, for one, for whom this project represents potential jobs. So the challenges of this project provide an opportunity to see just how seriously proponents of the project are. If they’re really serious, they may well concede to a better bikeway design reducing the climbing grade some people would like not having to make after a long day at work.
Free coffee and donuts tomorrow, sounds nice. Unfortunately, I think I’m already obligated elsewhere.
… it doesn’t seem likely the addition of exit lanes […] will increase current congestion.
…it’ll probably stay basically the same,[…], might be able to do so a little quicker … and with possibly less disturbance …………..
…likely could be devised.
[…]they may well concede ….
Surface Transportation Policy Project Progress:
“When choosing a home, school or day care, aim for locations as far from the freeway as possible.
Avoid sites within 500 feet — where California air quality regulators warn against building — or even 1,000 feet. That’s where traffic pollution is generally highest, along with rates of asthma, cancer, heart attacks, strokes, reduced lung function, pre-term births and a growing list of other health problems.”
looks like Harriet Tubman Middle School is about 30 feet from the freeway… I’d think that ODOT would have been required to put a wall there when they put the freeway in the backyard… they certainly know now that they need to do it…
Good point. It’s a reversal of the old, “What do you expect if you move next to an airport (or a park, a school, a busy street, etc.) which as anyone who’s ever lived next to any of those knows is what people say if you voice any complaint about any negative impact that those have on you.
But you rarely see it turned around, even when the neighbors were there first, and had a right to be protected from impacts. So yes, if you put a freeway next to a school, the obvious, legitimate question is, “What did you expect when you put your freeway here?” And the correct answer is “needing to do reasonable mitigation of impacts”.
Maybe they could do a land swap with Legacy for the vacant lots between WILLIAMS and Vancouver and get the kids away from the free way all together.
Air quality for Harriett Tubman Middle School: Middle schoolers are at recess for a fairly small part of the day. The backside of the school property, which borders the freeway, is surely not where the kids spend recess. It is a narrow paved area with dumpsters and a few parking spaces. I’d think they spend recess in the large grassy park immediately adjacent to the school’s north side. There is (and will be, post-project) room to plant more trees between the school and the freeway along most of their border. That would be a good idea for noise and visual reasons. A less congested freeway doesn’t mean more pollution than a congested freeway, assuming the same volume of vehicles. Congestion pricing (tolling) to reduce the volume of vehicles would slightly reduce pollution.
Flint vs Dixon: Removing Flint should not significantly affect schoolkids’ route. Harriett-Tubman School is in the Boise-Eliot school district which is bordered on the south by Broadway and on the west by the river. Since the areas south and west of the school are not residential, the vast majority of kids come from the areas north and east of the school and wouldn’t use the Flint freeway crossing which is south of the school. For other cyclists and pedestrians going from North Portland and Pearl/Downtown, the change does not seem major. Right now you walk/ride south on Vancouver, turn west on Russell or Tillamook, turn south on Flint, cross the freeway and then turn west on connecting to Broadway. After the project, you’d walk/ride south on Vancouver, turn west on Dixon, cross the freeway, turn south on Flint and turn on Broadway. Other than the difference in grade between Dixon vs Russell/Tillamook, what’s the significant difference? How steep will the grade on Dixon be? Steeper than the grade of the Broadway Bridge?
I am ambivalent on this freeway project. As discussed previously, I think we should toll the freeway first, then see if it remains congested enough to warrant any project. But I don’t think the school air quality or Flint crossing removal are strong arguments.
Ambivalence would suggest that cost and benefits are roughly in balance. On the front end we have costs: $half billion, years of disruption (immediate _increase_ in congestion), embodied energy of materials, induced demand for car travel, the loss of Flint St. as a bike route. Benefits? Ephemeral reduction in congestion on the freeway, and some sterile plaza spaces that are unbuildable, uninteresting, and have poor air quality.
Maybe we could put a pump track on there? Or a skate park because people are gonna skate there regardless. Or, you know, a bird.
“Ambivalence” may not have been the right word. I think we should toll the freeway first, then assess congestion and further action.
My favorite approach.
depending on the toll we’d find we don’t have any problem anymore. Not to mention having saved oh, half a billion dollars not to mention the interest….
Sometimes patience and incrementalism are the best approach…and there is not a need for huge changes to a system to effect large change.
Over time, what seems like a large change will become normal and accepted.
I think, though…that there will be sentiment against congestion pricing as it disproportionately impacts the less wealthy who drive and who are not served by transit (or for whom transit is not convenient).
We can try to lessen the impact to them (which inadvertently encourages driving) or we can implement wealth-based taxation for using the road (contrary to the concept of a public good).
Also, while I suspect congestion pricing will reduce peak demand I suspect the demand will simply be more spread out over the day. Probably will not see a large reduction in VMT or pollution. Indeed, off peak ours may act to induce additional demand (if only peak times are taxes).
There will be some interesting unintended consequences from congestion pricing.
The incremental approach allows the build-up of evidence to show that the approach or action that was taken was a good one. Once that build-up of evidence has taken place, it’s harder for opponents to criticize the approach, because by then the evidence has become incremenating.
Which would support the argument that maybe wholesale changes are not needed to the freeway system just yet.
Of course, people who use the system feel the current impacts and want change now. Ironically, construction would create even more congestion for a long time, whereas relief may occur much faster from congestion pricing…but visually, you don’t see anything substantive being done.
It’s like when one is actually in congestion. Moving along at 15mph feels better than being stopped half the time and driving 32mph the other half.
Now let’s say congestion pricing works…do we still use whatever was proposed to be allocated for other improvements or do we not place further burdens upon the state budget?
PSU’s Metroscape magazine ran a good piece half a dozen years ago by Prof. Linda George on our toxic freeways. She used EPA data on the 12 most toxic chemicals present in our air; concentrations along freeways were alarming.
A couple of years ago I served on a special committee in N. Portland to look at air quality issues thought to be coming from Swan Island. Turned out the most toxic stew is particulate from wood fires and diesel engines; air quality in N. Portland was worse than on Swan Island, as the latter has no wood fires!
In my experience, few scientists would use this kind of unqualified language for relative risk assessments. Do you have an citations?
Soren, I am not seeing where you are going with that. The “special committee” seems to be different than the Metroscape article (in which the scientist was involved).
It seems Lenny is using the terms “most toxic” and “worse” in relation to what was presented at the meeting, and those are not the words of the scientist.
I rode this area yesterday and it seems like the Hancock-Dixon Crossing would actually be an improvement over the jog you have to ride from Vancouver to Russell to Flint. I ride this daily and am always worried about east bound traffic on Russell when crossing over.
Similarly, I fail to see how an extra twenty feet of setback or a sound wall are going to protect children’s health at Harriet Tubman. Air born particulates are going to be pretty the same concentration either way.
It sounds like the concerns are more about blocking more highways than improving bike infrastructure or protecting kids.
“Most toxic” is my description of the information provided by DEQ/EPA which listed 12 toxic compounds of concern…based on risk and presence in the region. And as I recall, the maps given us showed Swan Island “cleaner” than N. Portland…a surprise to me and most other members of the committee. I came away from this effort firm in the belief that the most toxic air quality issues are due to wood fire heating in the city and to motor vehicles of all types. So rather than have the easy option of blaming a single source (with the exception of NW Portland’s Esco plant which is now closed), it is all (or most) of us fowling our own nest! But I can tell you air quality is sure better than it was in the 60’s around here!!
N. Flint became a key bike route democratically. The city and state have spent next to zero on it as a bike facility and yet its one of the most biked streets in N/NE. It should be viewed as a non-negotiable asset for this reason alone. Design and experience matters. Now, maybe I’m wrong and maybe ODOT is rigorously analyzing the impacts of various alternatives on bicycle traffic patterns, vetting all sorts of designs and paying close attention to detail and working tirelessly to deliver the Portland version of Copenhagen’s Cykelslangen.
That actually sounds like a agreement