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Watch how ODOT’s Rose Quarter freeway project will expand right into Harriet Tubman Middle School

Posted by on August 13th, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Still from video created by Cupola Media> shows how ODOT’s new freeway lane would encroach even further into the neighborhood it destroyed when it was first built in the 1970s. That’s Harriet Tubman Middle School on the right.

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 jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Jeff
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Jeff

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.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest

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.”

HJ
Guest
HJ

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.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Well all of those electric vehicles should help with the air pollution, no?

maxD
Guest
maxD

Jeff,
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.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Are you saying that it is fine now? And that adding 8 feet will suddenly transform this into a hazardous environment?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Adding 8 feet will suddenly make $500 million + disappear.

maxD
Guest
maxD

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.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

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.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

maybe we can build a wall…and ODOT will pay for it 🙂

Jason Ford
Guest
Jason Ford

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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The idea that you paid for the existence, maintenance, and expansion of every freeway around here is a myth.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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)?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

“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?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

paikiala
Guest
Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>>
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.

<<<

From https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Pages/Transportation-Funding.aspx

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Local gas taxes account for 24% of ODOT budget. Licenses and Registration are 16%.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

q
Guest
q

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?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And why the hell should non-swimmers pay for public pools?

q
Guest
q

Especially when they don’t even provide bike lanes.

q
Guest
q

And people in even the fastest lanes are moving at a crawl.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

‘provide for the common good’.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Because roads are considered a public good.

I wish I could get to use the military on my neighbors, but unfortunately cannot.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

To a point. Otherwise, why not just demolish everything and turn the city into a network of 20-lane freeways?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Have you been to Houston?

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Or one large park…like a Commons.

q
Guest
q

“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.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest

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.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

“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.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

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.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest

Thanks for posting, Jonathan!

Q
Guest
Q

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.

Gilly
Guest
Gilly

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.

gmf
Guest
gmf

I wonder if they are going to built a 20ft+ high sound wall there too…?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

And all of those open local roads are just inducing demand 🙂

Shoupian
Subscriber
Shoupian

Show me the evidence that this is actually the case and not just something you made up in your head.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Shoupian
Subscriber
Shoupian

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Do you offer any evidence that people will behave differently here than they do everywhere else?

soren
Guest
soren

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

See N Michigan Street, Killingsworth to Rosa Parks, northbound, each PM peak, for evidence of drivers avoiding high costs of freeway travel (congestion = time).

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

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.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

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).

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

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.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest

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:

https://bikeportland.org/2009/02/16/picture-of-the-week-the-portland-that-might-have-been-14434

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:

https://medium.com/@chrisjagers/where-will-all-the-traffic-go-68648bc111ae

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

q
Guest
q

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.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

If you’re driving by yourself on the freeway during rush hour in a car then you’re making a frivolous trip.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Work is not frivolous for some people.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

One in five peak hour trips? The capacity problem is primarily a rush hour issue.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

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.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

No. Everyone here gets everything delivered by bike. All the way from the Ports of Seattle or Long Beach.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Years ago it was found that less than half the people commuting into the downtown core drove alone to work.

https://bikeportland.org/2012/11/15/bike-commuting-at-11-in-latest-pba-downtown-commuter-census-80142

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.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

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.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Regressive, no?

Shoupian
Subscriber
Shoupian

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?

Dave
Guest
Dave

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?

Shoupian
Subscriber
Shoupian

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.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

In this case the neighborhood was built first, then the factory was built next to it. Now the factory wants to expand.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

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!

Aaron Brown
Guest

my favorite bikeportland comment ever

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

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.

maxD
Guest
maxD

John,
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.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

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.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Harriet+Tubman+Middle+School/@45.5397242,-122.6696088,328m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xadd8a8197d97be71!8m2!3d45.5392378!4d-122.669284

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.

Mark Nelsen
Guest
Mark Nelsen

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

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

The problem is that we keep asking people to vote on the right thing instead of just doing the right thing. Democracy is selfish.

dan
Guest
dan

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.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

“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.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This project is not “government oppression”.

Aaron Brown
Guest

Jeff
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.Recommended 11

“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.”

https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/07/04/a-middle-school-prized-by-portlands-black-community-would-see-its-poor-air-quality-worsen-with-a-rose-quarter-highway-expansion/

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Doesn’t wind pretty much move West to East here?

Laura
Guest
Laura

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.

soren
Guest
soren

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.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

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?

soren
Guest
soren

millions.

q
Guest
q

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.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

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.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

And put it where?

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Nowhere. Just get rid of it.

Dan
Guest
Dan

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.

Billm
Guest
Billm

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.

q
Guest
q

Why?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Which arguments from ODOT do you believe?

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

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.

Dan
Guest
Dan

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?

Bob
Guest
Bob

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I disagree with your characterization. I think the community lobbied pretty hard to have the school opened.

Bob (again)
Guest
Bob (again)

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

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).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.”
https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=23&t=10

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.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies

$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.”)

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Ben
Guest
Ben

the 500 million bike lane OMG.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Hello, Kitty
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.Recommended 8

Believing odot is your first error.

q
Guest
q

HK said “ODOT claims” and “If that’s true”, which to me shows HK is fully aware the claim may not be true.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Shoupian
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.Recommended 7

Dude, I am not even going to Google it for you. If you can’t, facts won’t dissuade you.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

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.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Middle of The Road Guy
No. Everyone here gets everything delivered by bike. All the way from the Ports of Seattle or Long Beach.Recommended 2

Which can happen outside of peak hours, or companies can pay up for clogging up the highway.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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?

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Hello, Kitty
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?Recommended 1

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?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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?

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

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.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

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!

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Sure they will. *poof*

Ron Swaren
Guest
Ron Swaren

Just get an HVAC company in there to figure out how to filter the air through the building’s climate control system. Good lord.

q
Guest
q

What about recess? Gas masks? Run around in the gym and hallways?

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

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.

q
Guest
q

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.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

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.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Hello, Kitty
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.Recommended 1

It’s imperative we get bogged down in numbers in perpetuity so that we are never accountable to the victims.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Right. How about you just address the fundamental issue. People were already compensated. Why do so again?