The Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have justified the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway project as a way to “restore” the traditionally African-American neighborhood that the freeway runs through.
But a new animated video released today by the No More Freeways coalition shows that a wider freeway will not only encroach further into that neighborhood, it will bring toxic fumes from cars and diesel trucks even closer to students and staff at Harriet Tubman Middle School.
We’ve already learned that local environmental groups including Audubon Society of Portland have raised red flags about the potential air quality impacts from the project. This new video gives gives us an even closer look at what’s at stake.
Created by Cupola Media, the video uses ODOT’s own schematics to demonstrate how the additional lane would bring traffic just yards away from a school where a recent study found current air quality conditions are so bad children have been warned to stay indoors for recess.
Watch the video below:
Instead of adding new lanes, No More Freeways is pushing for decongestion pricing and transit improvements. Read more about their position and get the current status of their fight against this project at NoMoreFreewaysPDX.com.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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There are valid arguments against the project, but this one continues to be a red herring. There is no way that 8-feet is going to make an impactful difference on the air quality at the school. If it’s already a problem, it will continue to be a problem. As has been discussed at PPS design meetings for other schools in the past, the fix to this issue will have to come from modifications to the school’s HVAC system. Short of moving the school, there’s no other fix to the problem, irregardless of a few feet of hillside.
IMO it’s not just the proximity Jeff, but the increased amount of vehicles that will be using an even wider freeway that’s even easier to use. I’m sorry, but when it comes to air quality — especially given the historical context of this n’hood — I feel like it’s absolutely unconscionable for ODOT to do this.
“the increased amount of vehicles that will be using an even wider freeway that’s even easier to use”
And in short order it WON’T be easier to use. And then we’ll have spent $1/2 billion to have even more traffic going just as slowly as it did before. So $1/2 billion for a temporary fix that makes it worse in the long run.
ODOT claims this project won’t increase vehicle throughput. If that’s true, there will be no induced demand, and no increase in volumes as a result of building it.
I thought just a couple weeks ago you were skeptical of listening to the transportation experts. Now you seem so inclined to trust their words. Do I detect some logical inconsistency here?
Everyone involved seems to agree this project won’t increase capacity, so why do we keep talking about the ramifications of increasing capacity?
I can’t tell if you really believe this or are just being cynical. I think it’s true that it won’t increase “capacity” in the technical sense (vehicles per minute): the maximum throughput of that section will still be constrained beyond the borders of the project.
But the project will definitely result in more total vehicles using that road. The delays in that area, which are extensive and for substantial portions of the day, will decrease. More people will look at their Google Maps and see that the delays are only (e.g.) 5 minutes, instead of 30. Then more people will make that trip. The cars per minute will remain the same, but there will be longer periods of the day where using that portion of the Interstate will be a feasible/desirable option.
I don’t know enough details of the project to evaluate the veracity of the statement; I do know ODOT says it won’t increase capacity, which makes some sense for the reason you point out.
I will say I am a little skeptical about the idea that people are going to make an additional trip just because this particular segment has less delay, especially if the surrounding segments remain as congested as always.
I think the “cure” for this project is to understand why ODOT wants to build it (reduce collisions) and see if there are other ways to achieve the same goal. Tolling will probably not solve the collision problem, which suggests this project might come back after we’ve implemented tolling.
Which I think would be fine for many opponents. I believe many folks want to implement congestion pricing for philosophical reasons, and don’t really care about this particular project, seeing it primarily as a convenient bludgeon with which to implement tolling, even if the problem tolling would fix is different. (I also believe many people are genuinely concerned about the school, but they’re probably not the loudest voices on the tolling front.)
So I guess I’m cynical. But I still oppose the project.
And so the reason for doing this is…..what?
They say it’s to reduce crashes.
Crash data show that most crashes on this stretch of I-5 are fender-benders, not serious or fatal injuries.
This is true. I think the idea is to reduce congestion due to minor crashes, not to save lives.
I’d like to see the evidence that the congestion here is a result of minor crashes.
I don’t think ODOT is saying that crashes cause “the congestion”, only that frequent crashes, even if minor, make it worse.
Half a billion dollars worse!
The have to have done an analysis of why they think it’s worth the money, and that’s probably available. Has anyone read the project ranking and analysis?
they’d say it would end homelessness.
they’d say anything to make sure the gravy train of megaproject funding keeps running.
This is true.
It is also true that opponents will say anything to stop the project.
There’s good and bad on both sides.
“I think there is blame on both sides.”
But seriously… this is essentially a political fight, less about facts and evidence, more about weighing one set of values against another. I think what is happening is as much about frustration with ODOT finding an outlet as it is about this particular project, which is rather inconsequential in the big scheme.
I guess that is a good, logical argument to not fund large projects to reduce homelessness. They are simply doing it to spend the money knowing it won’t have an impact.
Unfortunately you’ve been suckered into the propaganda. If you really care about the health of kids, you’d be advocating for moving the school. All this video does is make a point that this is a bad location for a school. It has little to do with freeway expansion. Keeping the school there isn’t good for the kids regardless.
good point dave. thanks for reminding me to not forget about the PPS/school location history aspect of this.
It’s unconscionable for PPS to have a school in this location. Where’s the outrage against the school district???
A valid point! Doesn’t PPS care about the children?
i hear you Dave. That’s a fair point. But it feels a bit like whataboutism. really we could just keep going back with reasons for outrage. What about the highway builders who destroyed the n’hood in the first place?
The highway shouldn’t have been built in that location. The school was heavily rebuilt in the 80s, after the freeway was already there. I think it went unused for a number of years before that. There are no winners here. But regardless of whether or not the freeway is widened, it shouldn’t be this close to the freeway. It’s easier to move the school than it is to move the freeway.
this is an easy thing to say, if you have no knowledge about the historical context and significant importance that Portland’s existing African-American community placed upon opening this school.
So why not invest in a newer, better location that makes the historic situation better, rather than trying to put bandaids on an existing bad situation? Wouldn’t that be an even better signal – building a new facility away from the pollution?
Right, but what Dave’s talking about is feasible solutions now. You can relocate the school but you can’t relocate the freeway. Using the school as a tactic to refute freeway expansion is misguided. The focal point of the this discussion needs to be about the school, the kids, and pollution. Not keeping the school there because it’ll stop the freeway widening project. The win-win solution would be to relocate the school away from the freeway and have no expansion. The other option would be to relocate the school and the freeway expansion moves forward. The likely option — given the historical context of environmental justice around the country — is the freeway will be widened and the school will remain there.
There’s also the fix No More Freeways proposes at the end of the video, to use decongestion pricing to improve traffic and air quality.
Ultimately the freeway is the source of the problem, the source of the pollutants. Why spend millions and millions of dollars to carve away a hillside in move that, to whatever degree, only makes that problem worse?
To quote Will Rogers, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
It’s a combination of things that will make it worse. Proximity, removal of trees (y’know those big green things that do a fair amount of air filtering) and traffic increase. All of these have an impact. Also modifying the HVAC system will only help inside. It won’t do a thing for letting the kids go outside to play. Keeping kids locked indoors is just wrong.
Well all of those electric vehicles should help with the air pollution, no?
it is not a red herring. The added space will store additional vehicles. Each vehicle will contributing to a very serious toxic air problem. It may be marginally closer, but the bigger issue is the additional pollutant sources.
Are you saying that it is fine now? And that adding 8 feet will suddenly transform this into a hazardous environment?
Adding 8 feet will suddenly make $500 million + disappear.
Absolutely not. I am saying it is terrible now, and adding adding a lane will make it much worse. I strongly support decongestion pricing/tolling as well much stricter emissions standards. I also would favor a dense planting of coniferous trees on the hillside as a short-term amelioration but think that the school should ultimately be relocated.
Obviously the video showed the few trees there now being removed….and did not include possible replacement plantings as part of the propaganda video. I’m sure if done, they’ll look to put something back in – perhaps more vertical trees with less of a base like an Aspen screen. Either way, the few trees there now are not making a significant difference, judging by the current air quality readings.
maybe we can build a wall…and ODOT will pay for it 🙂
I agree. I noticed how the video of “now” showed only cars. “After” showed trucks spewing black smoke toward the school. A PSU study years ago showed jogging around the Y track at the foot of Barbur, near the 405, actually was harmful to health. Staying home was healthier. In Texas, they built toll roads that then Gov. Perry (R) promised would be American-built and -run, but they were sold to a Brazil-Spain conglomerate. It costs to drive on those roads, but those are private roads. How can ODOT charge to drive on public freeways we already paid to build and maintain (and possibly expand)? Lastly, it’s regardless, not irregardless.
The idea that you paid for the existence, maintenance, and expansion of every freeway around here is a myth.
Do you mean that Jason Ford didn’t personally pay for all those highways (certainly true), or that they were somehow not paid for at all (certainly false)?
“How can ODOT charge to drive on public freeways we already paid to build and maintain (and possibly expand)”?
The notion that “we” (drivers) paid for the freeways is a myth. “We” only contribute to the cost of freeways.
“We” have also not paid for the maintenance and expansions of the freeways that ODOT wishes to put congestion pricing on. As long as we continue to wear them down, they will still cost huge sums of money to maintain, and when our right to commute unhindered has been infringed, we will say that we paid for these freeways so now it is our right to have them expanded (for free!), though of course now they will cost even more money to maintain.
Not to mention the external costs of driving, for which we will receive a hefty bill in the future, and one we may not be able to afford. Hey, does it seem like it’s getting hotter around here?
Ignored externalities aside (where I agree, probably more than you do), I’m not really sure what you’re saying here.
Who is the “we” that didn’t pay for roads? Do you mean drivers? I recall from when I looked this up before that ODOT was largely funded by vehicular sources and federal funds, which are in turn largely vehicularly sourced.
If you are arguing that a significant portion of our roads are paid for by people who derive no benefit from them, well, I’d like to see some figures on how you arrived at that conclusion.
The Oregon Department of Transportation will collect just over $5.3 billion in total revenue during the 2017–2019 biennium.
23 percent from the federal government.
77 percent from state sources– the state fuels tax, taxes on heavy trucks, driver and motor vehicle fees, and bond proceeds and Certificates of Participation.
ODOT also receives funding for specific purposes from cigarette tax revenues, lottery funds, and a variety of transportation-related permits and fees.
Local gas taxes account for 24% of ODOT budget. Licenses and Registration are 16%.
I hope you’re not talking about gas taxes with a straight face. When gasoline is subsidized at, let’s say, $7 a gallon, and taxed at 52.4 cents a gallon, you have to do some pretty magical math to suggest that the gas tax is contributing to anything.
There are countless public facilities, paid for by the public, that members of the public have to pay to use–swimming pools, parking spaces, colleges…so why not roads?
And why the hell should non-swimmers pay for public pools?
Especially when they don’t even provide bike lanes.
And people in even the fastest lanes are moving at a crawl.
‘provide for the common good’.
Because roads are considered a public good.
I wish I could get to use the military on my neighbors, but unfortunately cannot.
To a point. Otherwise, why not just demolish everything and turn the city into a network of 20-lane freeways?
Have you been to Houston?
Or one large park…like a Commons.
“In Texas, they built toll roads that then Gov. Perry (R) promised would be American-built and -run, but they were sold to a Brazil-Spain conglomerate.”
How typical. People were probably told that it would cost a few dollars to use the road, and instead they ended up paying Brazilians.
Nope, the video says: “The danger comes from highway exhaust, especially diesel fumes,” and at first shows only cars, but then at the end of that statement it fades in smoke-spewing trucks, to emphasize the “especially diesel fumes.” That’s all still the “before” phase. Then the “after” shows cars and trucks moving closer to the school, followed by the whole thing getting clogged up via induced demand, making for lots of cars and trucks moving slowly. In retrospect I can see how that first part would be confusing though.
“I noticed how the video of “now” showed only cars. “After” showed trucks spewing black smoke toward the school.”
I noticed that you didn’t pay attention to the “now” part of the video and also didn’t go back and see that your statement is false. There are trucks spewing black smoke in the “now” portion of the video.
There is that little thing about 1/r^2.
Yes, moving the traffic twelve feet closer will have a measurable impact. There is a reason why air pollution monitors are placed so far from roadways. It’s because the concentration of particulates and other toxins increases rapidly as one approaches the edge of the road.
Thanks for posting, Jonathan!
Fortunately, the project gives a built-in solution for the increase in pollution at the school. The extra freeway capacity will make it easier and more convenient for people whose kids go to Tubman to move to Vancouver and drive into Portland to work. Vancouver can build new schools for the kids to attend. If it’s successful, at some point the freeway will fill up due to the increased traffic from more people moving to Vancouver, at which point the freeway can be widened again if need be.
Hard to believe there are still people who believe what I wrote, and sad that they work for ODOT.
Hey, the Vancouverites are just following Gov. Tom McCall’s suggestion.
“We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live. Or if you do have to move in to live, don’t tell any of your neighbors where you are going.”
Growing up the number one gripe you heard was about Californians. I find it interesting that it is now Californians and then Vancouverites as a close #2.
I wonder if they are going to built a 20ft+ high sound wall there too…?
Under most of the proposals, a likely effect of congestion pricing (which I support if done properly) would be to encourage commuters to use local streets.
This “cure” would be far worse than the problem we have now.
And all of those open local roads are just inducing demand 🙂
That’s a big assumption. People afraid of this scenario (local street traffic increase) IMO have too much respect for most of the trips people take on freeways. We as a culture tend to assume because people are driving that their trips are serious and necessary. The reality however, is that many of these trips that congest our freeways are completely frivolous and — if priced properly — would simply vanish when people realize what a waste it is to “Run to Jantzen Beach to see if Target has any jeans in my size.” (which is something that has been said in my house so I know what I’m talking about).
I don’t assume many people are making frivolous trips during rush hour. Do that once, and then… never again.
And you’re assuming people will pay to make their non-frivolous trips. Some will, sure, but if there’s an alternative, surely some won’t.
You are assuming wrong. Do you ever get on the freeways?
If you did you would know…..
Yeah, nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded
In regard to congestion pricing…I don’t have a position, but a question…
What if no new lanes are built, and no congestion pricing is done? People will still try to avoid rush hours, either by driving at non-peak times, or not driving. What does congestion pricing accomplish? Accelerating that behavior? Make it easier for wealthier people to drive during peak times?
The Interstate Highways were never really meant to carry cars on short hops around the city they were built to carry cars between cities and states. The local state routes like 99E, 213, 26 (Powell), and 30B were really meant to carry more local traffic within the city.
That will be a big benefit of congestion pricing when it goes into effect. It will push cars off the highway that are doing short jumps within the city and back onto the state routes, and free up room for interstate and interurban travel.
Except there is no available capacity on Powell or the other state highways. There’s an increasing number of people driving along small neighborhood streets to avoid Powell.
While that hierarchy may have made sense at one point, it no longer works that way. As a cyclist, I want as many vehicles as possible on the biggest roads available, so they are not where I am riding.
As a cyclist, wouldn’t you want people to be taking transit or cycling instead of driving SOVs all over the place? Why are you advocating for a project that makes auto-dependency easier?
I’m sorry… what project am I advocating for?
Oh, sorry. I thought you were defending the I5 expansion project. I guess you just like to argue with people on the internet.
I oppose the project. But most of the arguments against it I’ve heard here are pretty weak, attacking things that aren’t even part of the project (increased capacity, for example). If this is the best we can do, the project is going to get built. And folks, “induced demand” is not some magical incantation that makes ODOT projects go away.
I’ve not heard anyone address what ODOT claims is their fundamental reason for building the project: reducing the number of crashes along the segment. How could we achieve that goal without degrading air quality or spending barrels of money? Air quality seems a compelling argument, as does frugality, but either of those alone does not explain why this project in particular should be where we draw the line.
And tolling? I’m all for it, unless done in a way that dumps more traffic on city streets. Why a group of cycling advocates that loves to decry historical traffic-related wrongs done to N Portland would poo-poo those concerns is beyond me.
Fundamentally, I’m arguing with the NIMBYs because I want to find a way to make the case against this project that I think is strong, and that I can deploy myself.
I’m with you. And the frugality argument is good. Why single out this project for targeting due to frugality? For one thing, it doesn’t add capacity, which is what I’d guess most people would assume, and is the reason typically given for spending this much money on a transportation project. For another, if the idea is saving money, is there really any need to prove this is the biggest waste of money being proposed? After all, a half billion saved is a half billion saved. If there’s another project that’s even more wasteful, people can go after that one, too, but in the meantime why not stop this one? That’s my view at least, even just from a typical driver’s standpoint.
There’s lots of capacity on Powell. The only place it gets congested is at the Ross Island in the Morning, at I-205 in the evening, and 39th at both times. The 70 other blocks in between all flow freely.
Now I-5 on the other hand is completely congested for miles in each direction out of town. And yet people still think it’s the best way for them to commute.
>>> Now I-5 on the other hand is completely congested for miles in each direction out of town. And yet people still think it’s the best way for them to commute. <<<
But you know better.
Have you looked at the map of the metro area? Say you work in Washington County — Intel Nike, Columbia, etc. and you’re coming from Vancouver, WA — you’re going to either take I5 or I84 and eventually get on 26. There’s really no good option. We’re talking tens of thousands of employees, granted not all are commuting from Washington, but if you live east of the Willamette, it might as well all be the same.
The good options are:
1) travel at low-congestion times
2) live/work elsewhere
3) explore work-from-home options
4) pay the congestion pricing to support transit options for others (and really, putting this kind of burden on our transportation system should come with costs)
Why is that good, other than for through traffic?
It keeps communities rich because people aren’t hopping in a car to go to suburbia to buy at a big box store. Instead they can walk, bike, or bus to a local store. The abuse of the interstate system and suppression of people-focused environments has destroyed the local communities. Now you can’t go anywhere safely without a car, and you can’t get to a store without a car.
Admit it – you said it!
But one person’s frivolous is another person’s serious. I take my blue jean shopping VERY seriously. Now, I can order 5 pairs through amazon and have several different deliveries made (all be vehicle) or I can take one trip by myself to find what I need. In he end, what is more efficient?
I’d say having the UPS or USPS delivery to your house is more efficient. The extra miles driven by the delivery driver would vary from zero for USPS to a fraction of a mile for the UPS driver. How is your multi-mile trip more efficient?
I’m assuming the miles driven to get the product to the retail outlet and to get it to the on-line warehouse are equal, but they probably aren’t. It’s probably fewer miles per item for the on-line warehouse since it’s one fewer steps in the chain.
If I buy 5 pairs of pants, that’s one trip versus 5 separate fulfillment trips by the delivery service.
Why would you buy your pants one at a time, in 5 separate orders, online yet buy them all at once in a store? Or are you saying you’d buy pants from 5 different online retailers yet find every pair you want at Target? Your argument makes no sense.
Even so, USPS is coming to your house every day, so no additional trips are necessary. FedEx and UPS are probably visiting someone on your street or an adjacent street every day, so very little additional travel is needed.
Show me the evidence that this is actually the case and not just something you made up in your head.
I’ve seen the extent some people will go to avoid tolls. Maybe Portland drives are different, and will happily pay the toll or change their work schedule or whatever. But if I lived or rode in the path of the Waze-inspired rat race routes, I’d be alarmed.
Focusing tolling on the bridges will solve the problem, as there is no way around.
Still waiting for evidence to back up your argument. Anecdotes do not provide support for your argument about how people’d behavior under the influence of an external factor. Your argument is flawed like saying smoking can’t be unhealthy for you because you know someone’s grandma who lived to 100 and she has smoked for over 80 years.
Do you offer any evidence that people will behave differently here than they do everywhere else?
shoupian asks for evidence.
hello, kitty says that they think people behave a certain way.
shoupian asks for evidence again.
hello, kitty asks for evidence to back up their own claim that people behave a certain way.
I have offered no hard scientific evidence that people will attempt to avoid tolls. Therefore it is a ridiculous assertion, and is unlikely to happen.
I mean, seriously. What evidence do you need to convince you drivers will attempt to avoid a potentially high predictable and recurring cost?
See N Michigan Street, Killingsworth to Rosa Parks, northbound, each PM peak, for evidence of drivers avoiding high costs of freeway travel (congestion = time).
If you believe in induced demand, you believe that a driver will take a route that is more convenient or quicker (time is money). Drivers make decisions based upon how much time (cost) it takes them…so yeah, people will drive local routes to reduce their costs and possibly improve their commute times. Products like Waze would not exist if people were not trying to minimize the time spent in a car.
I’m not sure people are trying to minimize time spent in the car so much as minimize time spent in a car that isn’t moving (or maximizing the median speed at which they drive, which is pretty much the same). I think many people really enjoy driving, but don’t enjoy driving when they have to pay the slightest bit of attention, such as when there is traffic (or “obstacles” like people on bikes, pedestrians or traffic calming devices).
You’ve actually touched on a topic I give a fair amount of thought to.
You can have a person take a trip with the same mileage and same actual time…and they will have a better mood if they are constantly moving as compared to stop and go.
You can progress in one of two directions: More freeway, or less.
The more-freeway direction was pretty well represented in the mid-20th century, and I think there was some well-intentioned motivation there along the lines of what you suggest, saying that if we just keep making more and more freeways, we’ll pull all the traffic off the local streets, keeping them peaceful and quiet. And that’s how you ended up with plans like the one in the map in this story:
But… I don’t think it would have worked out that well. A whole intersected web of I-5’s and I-205’s is certainly not the vision I’d want for Portland. (Especially not the part of it that would have run three blocks from my house.)
On the flip side, the less-freeway direction, you can look at cities – and there are plenty of examples – that took out freeways and were better off for it:
Freeway traffic isn’t like water in pipes, it’s not necessarily going to going to occupy some other space if thwarted from occupying a big, fast-moving pipe. In the absence of that big pipe, much of it, surprisingly, disperses, or doesn’t occur in the first place because, like Jonathan describes, there’s no (likely to be broken) promise of a high-speed non-stop expressway enticing people to make trips that aren’t strictly necessary. Or enticing developers to build on the far edges of town, in order to entice those people to make all those long trips.
It’s one thing not to entice developers to build on the edge of town (which we’ve been not doing since we created the Urban Growth Boundary). It’s quite another to entice developers to remove existing housing on the edge of town. We have a certain amount of travel “baked in” to the system as it is, and given how punishing it is already to drive at rush hour, I don’t presume there are many frivolous trips going on.
What will happen if this project is done wrong is that travel times will improve for people willing to pay, and others will use surface streets. From a highway-centric standpoint, the project can be a total success, even if the side-effects are a disaster for those living along the I-5 corridor.
I want to be clear I do not think more freeways are the answer. I just want to make sure the cure is better than the disease, so to speak.
I share your concern. A few years ago, ODOT proposed removing many driveways on Highway 43 (SW Macadam) and routing traffic in and out of Macadam properties from the streets behind them. The ODOT people said it would make 43 flow better and be much safer. I told them by that logic, why not just eliminate 100% of driveways from all ODOT highways, and they’d all flow even better and be even safer. They replied that they were aware that traffic would increase on the local streets, and safety could become worse, but said that was not an issue for ODOT, because those streets were outside ODOT’s purview. So overall traffic flow and safety would be destroyed, but that wasn’t relevant to ODOT.
If you’re driving by yourself on the freeway during rush hour in a car then you’re making a frivolous trip.
Work is not frivolous for some people.
Don’t census numbers show that only about one in five trips are people going to/from work? That leaves a whole lot of potentially frivolous trips even if we choose to not consider most of those SOV’s commutes to be frivolous.
One in five peak hour trips? The capacity problem is primarily a rush hour issue.
I wonder how much traffic is through traffic moving up and down the I5 corridor? Versus people commuting from around the area? There’s always going to be a X amount of freight traffic.
No. Everyone here gets everything delivered by bike. All the way from the Ports of Seattle or Long Beach.
Years ago it was found that less than half the people commuting into the downtown core drove alone to work.
So even if we didn’t allow cars at all we’d still have over half the workforce in town.
We don’t need the freeway commuters. Close all mid-city freeway exits and return the interstate to its roots. People can park-and-ride once they arrive at the edge of the city and take the train into downtown.
How about we just restrict this section of I5 to electric vehicles only. The traffic will drop dramatically, it will encourage residents of Clark County to get low pollution vehicles, no freeway expansion will be needed, and the kids will get cleaner air to breath. And the freight lobby can stock up on those futuristic electric Tesla Semis.
PBOT staff has said that they don’t love it but they support the freeway project because it would improve the local streets for walking and biking. I’d like to hear from anyone at PBOT now in light of this video. Is it still worth it knowing that this freeway project would have detrimental health impact on kids from historically disadvantaged communities?
Leaving things as they are or even adding congestion pricing would still kept pollution levels high for kids. Where;s the outage aimed at the school district?
Dave, you seem to be implying that we should not oppose the freeway expansion because the school itself is an unsuitable site. I think your argument is insincere and illogical.
(1) the point of discussion is something that would exacerbate an public health problem. It’s like saying a factory has been polluting the river long before a neighborhood was built downstream, and when people oppose the factory’s expansion that would result in more pollution, you say those homes shouldn’t even be there in the first place.
(2) There is no plan or resource to relocate the school and the students. As far as we know, if the I-5 is expanded according to plan, the students and staff of Harriet Tubman Middle School will be there for the foreseeable future to suffer harmful health impact. You come across as caring about the students, but if we play out your argument, it is clear that it does not lead to a scenario that benefit the students.
In this case the neighborhood was built first, then the factory was built next to it. Now the factory wants to expand.
These “who was here first” arguments are always a load of BS. We need to consider who is there now, and what the impacts on them would be.
To the tune of Pink Floyds ” The WAll”,
We don’t need no road expansion
We don’t need no Benzene Fumes
We don’t need no Bare Embankment
ODOT! Leave those kids alone!
my favorite bikeportland comment ever
I oppose doing this freeway project unless and until it is shown to still be truly necessary *after* I-5 has been tolled at the Columbia River.
However, moving the edge of the freeway 8 feet closer to the school won’t make any significant difference to the air quality for the students.
the impact is not just that the freeway is closer, it is that that 8 feet of space now contains more vehicles, each contributing more pollution. Also, any space available for mitigation planting is removed.
The new merge lane of the freeway will be closer to the back side of the school, which is an asphalt alley and parking area. Do or should the schoolkids spend their outdoor time in this grungy parking lot, among the dumpsters and parked cars?
The freeway will be some distance, and separated by trees, from the park adjacent to the school. Isn’t that where the kids actually spend their outdoor time?
How much outdoor time do the kids actually have during the morning rush hour, which is when the particulates level from the freeway is highest? When my son was in middle school, they were in class almost all the time, with well less than an hour a day outside. You can look at the PPS bell schedule
The school’s indoor air quality can be made very good, with the appropriate HVAC and filtering system, new windows, other improvements – which ODOT should clearly pay for if the freeway project goes forward. Since the kids spend almost all their school time indoors, the net air quality they are exposed to may well be improved rather than degraded.
As previously stated, I oppose this freeway project. It appears to be a colossal waste of public money and represents a failure to consider alternatives. I think it should not go forward unless and until ODOT places tolls on I-5 and I-205 at the Columbia River and elsewhere, with appropriate accomodations for lower-income drivers (e.g. anyone using Oregon Trail or the WA equivalent automatically gets a discount FastPass), then assesses the congestion levels with the tolls in place, and proves the project is still necessary.
But I don’t feel that air pollution impact on the school is a good argument against the freeway project.
I doubt tolling is going to happen; seems very unlikely people vote for tolling without additional capacity: https://www.oregonlive.com/roadreport/index.ssf/2018/07/ballot_initiative_would_open_p.html
The problem is that we keep asking people to vote on the right thing instead of just doing the right thing. Democracy is selfish.
If the air quality claims in the video are true, I suggest we have ODOT pony up another $100 m to rebuild Harriet Tubman school in a new location as part of the project. Maybe the school can be moved to where Irving Park is, and the current site can become a park. (cue ODOT: “but no one will want to go to a park next to a freeway!” Well, yeah…)
I mean, if ODOT has money to burn (and they appear to!), might as well put some into something worthwhile.
That’s blaming the victim. It’s not the school’s fault they built a freeway next to it. The freeway needs to the one to make changes so that it doesn’t negatively impact the things around it.
“The school” is not a victim, and this project is not playing one person’s rights off against another. We’re making a policy decision about whether to expand a road, and evaluating the costs and benefits of that decision. One of the costs is that people attending the school may (or may not) suffer a (probably marginally) greater exposure to pollutants.
Far more significant, in my opinion, is that even without the project, those students will be suffering an exposure that is far too high. We’re generating a lot of light and heat over adding a little bit more, as if that would make the difference.
If we really cared about children and air quality, we’d be pushing for stricter regulations around diesel emissions that would benefit Tubman students, and also everyone in the city.
You may not think the school is a victim. I say that as a generalization for all the minority students that have suffered at the hands of government oppression since they fought to have this school in their neighborhood. Yes, the students and the community are the victims, but I’m being more general. And once again the non-minority government is pushing even worse conditions on this minority school. It was bad enough that they put the freeway there in the first place.
You can continue thinking this school isn’t the victim of systemic racism, but I will continue my view that it is.
This project is not “government oppression”.
“One of the PSU scientists who conducted the new air quality study says widening I-5 would have predictable results on air quality at Tubman.
“It’s very reasonable to expect concentrations would be higher and extend further into the property,” says Linda A. George, a PSU professor of environmental sciences.”
It’s also true that for at least some pollutants, even 15ft can make a difference in concentration. I would not assume moving traffic closer to the school to be harmless.
Doesn’t wind pretty much move West to East here?
As much as everyone wants to hate on ODOT for impacts to the school, PPS has some responsibility in the matter. They closed the school in 2012 for low attendance, and the air quality issue was known then. A responsible school district would have sold the property and banked the money for a new school in a better location, instead of letting the property sit, and eventually doing a remodel. PPS has a recent history of not being able to manage it’s way out of a paper bag when it comes to school upgrades and rebuilds (see the audit reports on the 2012 bond measure and the recent budget overruns predicted for the 2017 bond), so I’m not surprised.
Quite a few schools in Portland are close to pollution hot spots. Should they all be shut down?
I would suggest that instead of spending tens of billions of dollars on new schools we could first attempt to address the source of this public health crisis: too many people burning fossil fuel on our roadways.
What evidence do you have that it would cost tens of billions of dollars to move Portland schools that are in proximity to pollution hotspots?
Exactly. Do we tear down the schools near freeways, and replace them with housing, parks or commercial buildings, so now the kids are away from pollution at their new schools, but then go home to live next to it, or have their parents working next to it?
Add noise pollution into the mix as well. Property values along freeways would go up by billions if that land was no longer next to the air and noise pollution freeways bring.
If the freeway causes such terrible air near the school, surely it is creating terrible air along the entire corridor.
Some suggest the school should move. Does that also mean everyone else in this long-impacted community should move as well? Maybe instead we should (re)move the freeway.
And put it where?
Nowhere. Just get rid of it.
The Vancouver BC solution! It does make traffic kind of crazy, but on the other hand, it’s not any worse than it is here. I am willing to support this as long as we do something cool with the newly-reclaimed space. Split it between linear parks and BRT? BRT could really fly if we took the private autos off the road.
It’s hard not to conclude from this video that the anti-growth crowd makeup arguments to support their pre-existing conclusions as opposed to reaching their conclusions from examining the arguments.
Which arguments from ODOT do you believe?
There’s nothing anti-growth about the video. Your angle is wrong. It’s not about growth, which is unavoidable. It’s about doing it right.
I honestly don’t know if the “anti-growth crowd” are the people who want to crush the life out of the city with 12 lane roads everywhere, or the people who want some concessions to livability. At any rate, the behavior that you’re describing is pretty much default mode for people today across the political / ideological spectrum — unless you would like to argue that you’re not doing the same thing?
This is classic environmental injustice. PPS decided to re-open a school with a large minority population on the side of an interstate. It made that decision before it commissioned a proper air quality study. Now that it has the results of that study – which weren’t good – it continues to push for opening that school. ODOT’s construction plan – according to the only researchers who have independently studied this issue – will likely make the air quality even worse. It’s a sad series of decisions by government officials, the cost of which will be borne by the kids who either breathe those toxins or forgo going outside for recess or sports. I bet many families are now considering other options for middle school, with the affluent (white) folks most able to adapt and send their kids elsewhere. It’s a sad situation.
I disagree with your characterization. I think the community lobbied pretty hard to have the school opened.
I doubt the community would lobby for it now that we have the air quality study, which was commissioned post hoc. Here’s the reality: one of the most polluted schools in Portland will also have one of the most significant black populations. You can argue about who to blame based on decades of environmental injustice (including putting the interstate through that neighborhood from the get-go). I believe the most current, obvious, and immediate blame should be directed at PPS’s failure to conduct the requisite studies before it made its decision.
I don’t blame anyone — the situation is what it is, and I believe we got here through a series of muddled but fundamentally well intentioned decisions, as school boards and other organizations are prone to do.
The question is not who to blame, but what to do. The community, PPS, and ODOT need to work together to find the best solution they can, and figure out how to best move forward.
If the freeway project goes forward, I would demand that this school receive a HVAC system and other improvements (paid for by ODOT) that will give it the best indoor air quality of any PPS school, and improvements to the outdoor area (specifically the adjacent park).
I think PPS installed a high quality HVAC system. Inside air is unlikely to be a problem. It’s the air outside and around the school which is the issue. And in the neighborhood as well, though no one is talking much about that here.
Where do you get your $7/gal from?
“In 2017, about 142.85 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline were consumed in the United States.”
A little non-magical math:
$7 * 142b = $994b. It’s simply not credible that we spend almost $1 trillion on gasoline subsidies each year.
“According to a 2015 estimate by the Obama administration, the US oil industry benefited from subsidies of about $4.6 billion per year.”
$4.6b/142b gallons = ~.03 per gallon, assuming that all domestic oil is used to produce gasoline, and all gasoline comes from domestic oil.
And yes, I realize this analysis is highly simplistic, but your number is still more than 200x mine. Even using the worst-case number mentioned (but not justified) in the article below, the calculation above will still only yield about $.30. https://www.forbes.com/sites/drillinginfo/2016/02/22/debunking-myths-about-federal-oil-gas-subsidies/.
(Incidentally, from that same Wikipedia article: “According to a Congressional Budget Office testimony, roughly three-fourths of the projected cost of tax preferences for energy in 2016 was for renewable energy and energy efficiency.”)
The International Monetary Fund puts the amount at $406 billion in 2015. I’ve seen sources that put the true cost of gasoline at around $10/ to $15/gallon. https://www.treehugger.com/fossil-fuels/true-cost-gasoline-closer-15-gallon-video.html
Even if you conservatively assume that the price of gas is being subsidized at a dollar or two a gallon, the gas tax is a joke.
By way of comparison, $406b is about 2/3 of our total military budget for 2015, far more than we spent on agriculture, education, and transportation combined. That strains credulity. However, if you have a source for that $406b, I’d take a look. I’ll bet it includes a lot of stuff that cannot reasonably be considered subsidies.
In the meantime, even taking $406b at face value, that’s still only 40% of the $7 you claimed.
The gas tax is far too low. The claims of how much we subsidize gas are far too high.
the 500 million bike lane OMG.
Believing odot is your first error.
HK said “ODOT claims” and “If that’s true”, which to me shows HK is fully aware the claim may not be true.
Dude, I am not even going to Google it for you. If you can’t, facts won’t dissuade you.
Until odot and Portland pay up to the families discplaced by the racist roots this this freeway was put down, this issue will simmer along. There is zero reason to do all this shucking and jiving for the freight industry. That school is put there for racist reasons. The whole thing is garbage. What should be happening is for I5 to be capped from downtown to Vancouver. The land above made available for top notch housing for minority families . That is a far better use of this money. Time to fix the past, not do more damage to the future.
Which can happen outside of peak hours, or companies can pay up for clogging up the highway.
Let’s say my parents sold my house to ODOT for the construction of I-5. How much would ODOT owe me now? How much would they owe the descendents of the man my parents rented a room to?
You are totally right. Let’s trivialize the suffering of those who were stolen from. Shall we meet up at Starbucks with our macbooks on our bikes to discuss numbers over in the Lloyd?
Wait… what? I’m asking how much you think people are owed; that’s not trivializing anything. Surely you’ve given the matter some thought. How much does ODOT owe, and to whom?
They owe what the market value would be today with that home on it. They would need to pay the surviving members or theIr family members. It’s pretty simple as reparations are.
You do realize ODOT paid market value at the time they bought the houses (as is required by the 5th Amendment), right?
Assuming you do, would you extend the requirement that the government pay current prices for houses bought in the past to all examples of government takings, or is there something special about this one project? Will ODOT be required to top-up payments to future value in the future for properties it buys today? Would you extend that obligation to the private sector? Plenty of people sell property under duress; should the buyers be responsible, in the future, for paying more?
Of course, things get complicated quickly. In SE Portland, ODOT also bought a bunch of houses for the Mt. Hood Freeway and later sold them cheaply (since the neighborhood was Italian and Chinese, I assume racism was a key factor there as well). I would expect, if compensation is due to the original owners in SE, ODOT should be able to recapture some of the upside those who bought the houses at depressed prices have enjoyed.
I’m not asking for detailed calculations, but I am interested in how you see this at the philosophical level.
Anyhow….a real solution, close the Williams on ramp. Problem solved. Put traffic on just south of weidler. This whole thing is way overblown and now odot wants to go crazy on construction over on on ramp.
Urban freeways are literally toxic rivers (Thank you Prof. George), and should all be removed to create truly livable cities. Build it and they will come…remove it and they will go away!
Sure they will. *poof*
Just get an HVAC company in there to figure out how to filter the air through the building’s climate control system. Good lord.
What about recess? Gas masks? Run around in the gym and hallways?
Have things gone to hell along San Francisco’s Embarcadero since that freeway was removed? Of course they haven’t. Even the OR Highway Commissioner’s top dog said the Eastbank Freeway here was a mistake when it was built. It sits on some of the most valuable real estate of the entire state of OR!
People move on average every five years, same with employment. Remove a freeway and people will adjust where they live, work and how they get around. No need at all to poison the air for everyone who lives within a quarter mile of these toxic rivers to save someone else five minutes.
They will adjust, absolutely. Some will make fewer trips; most will take other roads or surface streets, or cut through neighborhoods. It’s not like people can move their houses; they can move, but someone else will take their place. The houses will stay.
There will be some sorting, but if you remove a key corridor that a huge number of people depend on, that sorting will take decades, and may never happen.
We know that a huge number of people are willing to suffer a great deal of pain in order to not change their life patterns. We can see that playing daily out in a huge number of cities all across the country. Why do you think people will behave differently here than they do elsewhere?
I too would like to see the east side freeway removed, but telling yourself that the traffic will just magically disappear is like pretending climate change won’t happen. It won’t, and it will. At least be intellectually honest about the costs of such a project, and then we can talk about who is going to pay them.
I remember that in the 80s, when there was some debate about its future. A study showed that much of the traffic on it was local, and that a viable solution was to simply remove the whole thing.
The land value issue makes sense also. The context in which freeways are located can change greatly over time. What made sense 50 or more years ago may not today.
alot of citys now have bigger freeways and better freeway plans to what i seen . portlands freeway and roads are still in the past because we didnt think we get so many people in this city, oregon needs to grow up like everyone else. we do have way to many bottle necks and onramps and offramps too close to each other where you see traffic starts at. when you go from 3 lanes to 2 lanes and back again and . it messes up the flow. i need to drive to where i need to go. but fixing the problems where all roads should be the same where you have alot more people.
It’s imperative we get bogged down in numbers in perpetuity so that we are never accountable to the victims.
Right. How about you just address the fundamental issue. People were already compensated. Why do so again?