Tour de Lab September 1st

Why does Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick support a freeway expansion in his district?

Posted by on March 27th, 2019 at 9:54 am

(Image of Lew Frederick by K. Kendall used under CC by 2.0)

The I-5 Rose Quarter project being planned by the Oregon Department of Transportation lies squarely in the district of Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick. With an official biography that says his legislative focus is on, “justice in public safety, education, and ‘quality of life’ issues,” some readers were surprised to find out he supports a project that will significantly widen Interstate 5 to accommodate more auto traffic in Portland’s central city.

I interviewed Sen. Frederick last week to learn more about his position. Below is a version of our conversation that’s been slightly edited for clarity.

Why do you support this project?

“This particular plan, I don’t think has as much of an impact on climate as some are making it out to be.”

“First of all, I recognize you have a particular point of view on this as well. I’m not expecting to convince you of my view. I support it primarily because it is a promise that was made to other people in the state of Oregon. In 2016 the Transportation Committee [which Frederick is a member of] went around the state and talked with people in 19 different places and heard about what people wanted in transportation. There were several things that came up: One thing they talked about was the bottleneck in the metro area. There were two particular spots: the 205 area between West Linn and Stafford Road, and the other one that everyone talked about was the ability to get people — and especially products, and produce — through the Rose Quarter area because it was a clear bottleneck.

So we said we’ll do something about the Rose Quarter area if you’ll tax yourselves, and we’ll have the ability to get it done. At least have some effect. There was no promise it would eliminate all of the congestion or anything like that. There were also promises to incorporate bicycle approaches, a promise to look at the congestion pricing, and a promise — one that was not part of the [2017] transportation package but that we are in middle of making some changes to — and that’s regarding diesel.

There was an expectation there would be a number of approaches for dealing with the Rose Quarter and one of the things was changing the entrance and exit ramps and the pass-through lanes. That’s one of the things that was asked for and agreed to by legislators around the state, not just the Portland area. It appears as though this is something that will have an impact [on congestion] and that’s the impact we wanted to have when we passed the transportation package.”

What have you heard from your constituents about the project?

“There are several groups of my constituents that have different approaches to dealing with this issue. Some have been given, frankly, misinformation about it. There’s a whole group of folks who were told that we’re somehow increasing the freeway by this incredible amount of new lanes. It’s not a whole group of new lanes, it’s entrance ramps and exit ramps, and a pass-through situation. It’s not putting in five lanes going to Vancouver. And it’s a small section of the freeway. But they were given misinformation about it in my view.

I’ve also had people who say they understand what this is set up to be. It’s not set up to be the end-all thing. They believe it will bring at least some change. So I’ve heard constituents on several different sides of the issue. Some people would like to have the money spent on high-speed rail. I’d like that too. But the money being brought in by gas taxes and other sources cannot be spent on rail.

There are people concerned about how close the freeway is to Tubman Middle School. I’m also concerned about that.

So I have a range of folks… There are some very vocal people who, frankly, believe this is the way to suddenly turn around everything that’s taking place regarding global warming, so you have that kind of constituency as well.”

Do you think that concern around climate change is valid?

“Yes it’s a valid concern. I think that this particular project will have a minimal impact on climate. I think it will have a greater impact, quite frankly, on the way we deal with the economy of Oregon. This project was not set up to try to deal with a major climate change issue. It was set up as a promise with the rest of the state that we’d do something about the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter, and that’s what it’s designed to do.”

Given the seriousness of the climate issue, don’t you think it’s better to err on that side than the economic one?

“[Chuckles] I think we have to figure out how we balance a lot of things. One of the things we need to understand as we look at the climate issues is that there is not, in my view, a valid way to say, ‘We decided we are going to ask you for growth; but we’re not going to do what you asked us to do regarding this particular place.’ I think this project is important. I think there are other approaches that we can take to deal with the climate issue that I think this project has a minimal impact on and we have much larger possible impacts by dealing with the diesel issues and some of the other plans that are around right now… This particular plan, I don’t think has as much of an impact on climate as some are making it out to be.”

Why not? Can you expand on that?

“Well, I have yet to hear from folks who are talking about the climate what their alternative is for dealing with the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter. I have not heard a valid answer for that. I’ve yet to see an alternative at this point that gets commerce and other traffic through I-5 and that we could work on right now… And I realize congestion pricing is one of those things that’s part of this whole package.”

Yes, congestion could have an impact, yet ODOT is very dismissive of it at this point. They say it’s a separate project that’s “years away”. Do you think congestion pricing should play a larger role?

“I think you’re mistaken on that. In every conversation I’ve had with anybody regarding congestion pricing — and congestion pricing has its own issues as well — but it’s clearly part of these discussions. The timing is a question I think; but congestion pricing is clearly part of the discussion. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that it’s not.”

[Note: Congestion pricing is not part of the I-5 Rose Quarter project. ODOT’s own materials make it clear tolls are years away. A recent ODOT video on tolling said it’s “years away at best.”]

What if we spend all this money to expand the freeway, then toll it, only to find we don’t need the extra capacity? Are you concerned it would be a waste of money?

“No I’m not. I think we need to do something as quickly as we can, physically, on the ground. I think we’ve got to do both at the same time. We can be looking at congestion pricing and getting a project done that we know will have at least a minimal impact on congestion.

I want to make it clear: I don’t think this one thing [freeway widening] is going to be the fix. There are other parts of it we need to look at. The congestion pricing in my view has its own problems. What’s the impact on the neighborhoods and surface streets? And the other thing is, quite frankly, who has the money to pay for that congestion pricing? If you are a low-income person and you’re driving an old car, what happens to you in terms of congestion pricing? Those are issues we also need to be dealing with.”

If your congestion pricing concerns could be allayed, would you support doing it sooner? Would you support a measure to not move forward with the Rose Quarter project until we have a congestion pricing pilot in place?

“I’m not interested right now on doing a delay on this project. I think that would be an issue we’d be dealing with later on when we start to ask the rest of the state to do other things with us or for us — things like schools and health care and housing. If we decide we’re not going to pay attention to the promise we made regarding this, I think that would come back to haunt us. I think congestion pricing is something I would support looking at and perhaps try to find a way to allay the fear and concerns about it; but we should continue the I-5 project.”

But wasn’t the promise to relieve the bottleneck, not specifically to widen the freeway? If congestion pricing could relieve the congestion, wouldn’t that fulfill the promise?

“I think what could come out of that is misunderstanding just how many different approaches are needed to deal with that bottleneck. The bottleneck is clearly a physical bottleneck. We need to find some way to deal what the physical bottleneck.”

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What do you think about the fact that the project is strongly opposed by the Portland Public Schools Board, PBOT’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees, and several other groups?

“I haven’t talked with the school board folks. The city folks you talk about, I’m not surprised. I appreciate the bicycle folks, I appreciate the pedestrian folks as well; but I think this has an impact, and a much larger one than that particular area of the city. Again, I think this is part of a promise we have to deal with and a bottleneck that affects the whole state.”

(Graphic of proposed widening. Source: ODOT)

One thing these groups are concerned about is ODOT’s obfuscation. They’ve been unwilling to say it’s a widening project or that it’s adding capacity; but the fact is, the freeway is getting substantially wider and according to ODOT’s own analysis, people will be able to travel through this area faster. So wouldn’t those two things increase capacity on the freeway?

“That certainly is the hope that it will increase some capacity. But it’s not like adding a full lane. Again, it disturbs me that you’re presenting it this way. We’re talking about entrance ramps and exit ramps. We’re not talking about an additional third or fourth lane that’s going to continue all the way up to Columbia Blvd or the river. This is a small section right there at the Rose Quarter. Characterizing it as somehow adding lanes, is not just a mistake, but a mischaracterization of what it’s about. The whole idea is to allow people to move through quicker. It’s not going to solve the whole problem but will certainly help make things smoother going through that area.”

But don’t you think it’s problematic that our state transportation agency denies it will add capacity when it clearly will?

“Let me ask you this question: What is the problem in terms of it adding some capacity at that spot? What is so upsetting about the idea that somehow, at that spot, we will be able to have an easier flow of traffic for a very short length of freeway. I’m not sure I understand why that’s a bad thing.”

Well there are two reasons it’s a problem: First, there’s a concern that ODOT isn’t being honest with the public and that they’re willfully hiding the impacts of their plans. The other thing is, it’s upsetting because making it easier for people to drive is a very problematic thing in light of the crisis of a changing climate, in light of concerns about emissions, in light of the fact that driving is the least efficient and most expensive way to get around…

“Yes they’re going to change the lanes to allow folks to move through that area… But the alternatives that we have right now — and it’s not congestion pricing by the way — in my view, this is one piece of the alternatives is to try to make it so things are moving through. One of the problems we have at that spot, because it’s a bottleneck, is you have cars stopped and you have people on idle and we don’t have an electric vehicle… I’m driving a Prius. I’d love to be able to afford an electric vehicle and the charging station in my house. But the fact is that we have a system right now that if we can start to adjust the kind of vehicles we’re traveling with, the kinds of power that’s used… We’re trying to do the cleanup of the diesel. I don’t see this small section of the freeway — and I’m going to stress that — making it a little less obstructed as somehow violating my basic concerns about what’s going on terms of climate change.

The money we have is devoted to the roads. It’s devoted to the roads by way of a statewide taxing system that we agreed to and that’s what I think we should follow up on.”

If we could spend the money on something else, would you support that?

“If we could, Yes. But we can’t. If I could take money from the prisons and put it into the schools. I’d do that. I’ve been suggesting high-speed rail for some time and trying to find some way to pay for it and encourage it. I think we need a high-speed rail system from Eugene to Vancouver BC. That’s what I’d like to see. If nothing else, a system from Vancouver, Washington to downtown Portland, that’s what I’d like to see.”

Do you worry that investing in the freeway system will erode support and demand for high-speed rail?

“No. I do not think that erodes it at all. I think in fact it may actually help it. I think if we get something done on the freeway, it adds to the idea that we are in fact serious about changing the transportation system.

I think by supporting this project, I’ll have the ability to go in and say, ‘OK, we now need to do something with high-speed rail,’ because I’ll be able to say, ‘Look, we’ve done this [freeway project] and now we need to do this next piece and we will have a great impact on the climate change.'”

Would you support a request for another 45-day comment period?

“Yes. I can’t see a big problem with being able to have more comment time.”

What about joining several groups, including the PPS School Board, to request completion of an Environmental Impact Statement?

“I would support an EIS, especially as it relates to Tubman. I don’t think that’s been done as well as it should be… But if the EIS is basically an attempt to try and stop the project — then let’s be honest about that. If you’re not trying to find a way to create a solid change in terms of the environment around there, and are just using the kids as a prop. That’s not OK.

I want to make it very clear we need to look at the environmental impact. We need to be looking at what we can do regarding diesel. I think diesel in that area along the entire I-5 corridor, not just for that particular spot. If we’re going to have an EIS just for Rose Quarter project, I think that’s a narrow approach. If the EIS is only defined as a strategy to try to stop the project, then just say so. Don’t say you’re so concerned about the kids. If the EIS is being set up just as a proxy, I’m not interested in that. I am interested in impacts of diesel fumes in that whole area, which has the highest asthma rates; but don’t use this as a proxy to delay the project. I won’t buy that line.”

Do you share concerns of the Albina Vision plan about the freeway lid designs?

“I have some concerns about the lids as well. How strong they are, where they’re placed. But let’s also be very clear about something here: the Albina Vision does not “recreate” the community that was once there. It will bring people back into that area; but there’s no way it can recreate what was once there. I don’t like folks using things as a proxy for other issues.”

Do you think the I-5 project will hurt or help make the Albina Vision a reality?

“In my view it will help Albina Vision becoming a reality because it creates an opportunity for making some physical changes in real time within a larger project. I think that gives us the opportunity to actually make some changes we would not otherwise be able to make. It’s going to be disruptive for sure; but if it’s disruptive and it opens up the possibility of connecting the Albina Vision — which is something that people have been talking about for a long time — and giving us a a reconnection with the river… I think the project on I-5 will provide an opportunity to get those kind of infrastructure things done as well.”

Thank you Senator Frederick for taking time to share your thoughts.

Have you shared your thoughts about this project with ODOT yet? The comment period ends at 5:00 pm on Monday, April 1st. You can submit an official comment by emailing info@i5RoseQuarter.org.

In related news, don’t miss Joe Cortright’s latest analysis where he reveals how the Columbia River Crossing is influencing this project. Also read OPB’s story: ODOT Used Long Dead I-5 Bridge Replacement To Plan Rose Quarter Upgrade.

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

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

71 Comments
  • Avatar
    Flareon March 27, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Money

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      rick March 27, 2019 at 10:25 am

      lack of leadership ? priorities ?

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      curly March 27, 2019 at 11:18 am

      It would be interesting to see Senator Frederick’s largest campaign contributors. Some context for his political decisions.

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    Scott Mizée March 27, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I believe Mr. Frederick is way off-base with his views on this project. The current solution is NOT the best we can do.

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    TheCowabungaDude March 27, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Promises, promises, promises…
    They all sound like promises to industry and economic powerhouses, and not promises towards any real change. Senator Frederick sounds like he knows how to shake hands, but doesn’t sound like he knows how to find real solutions. He sounds completely dismissive of other alternatives and also completely short-sighted. I wonder if he’s considered rail for moving goods instead of trucks?
    His questions were aggravating. Do you care about the kids with the EIS? Yes! That’s why it is brought up. Or are you just using it to stop the expansion? Yes! Because that is what’s best for the kids.
    Thanks for challenging him Jonathan. Your questions and answers sound more credible than the senator’s.

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    John Lascurettes March 27, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Thanks so much for asking the questions direct and hard, Jonathan.

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    Flareon March 27, 2019 at 10:30 am

    He’s right about the Albina Project at least. The community that was once there has been destroyed and people have moved on. Attempts to recreate anything there will be futile – people have already moved out of the area and have formed communities elsewhere. The idea that these communities will want to uproot themselves again and move back to inner NE is frankly, ridiculous. Any sort of coherent neighborhood in that area would be welcome, but to present it as some sort of racial justice thing is simply a distraction.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 27, 2019 at 10:33 am

      From what I’ve learned (and I’ve seen the Albina Vision presentation several times and have heard their leaders talk on several occasions) is that they are talking about recreating the characteristics of the old n’hood — the street grid, the vibe, the vibrancy, the affordability — I don’t recall ever hearing this project pitched as a direct “re-creation” of the old n’hood.

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        Flareon March 27, 2019 at 10:38 am

        I’ve definitely heard it from more of a racial justice angle, but perhaps we are reading different publications. If it ends up being a Pearl District East, then great (the Pearl has tons of affordable housing and such) but often these kind of planned communities feel sterile and boring. Still, I imagine is more about that real estate cash than trying to recreate anything cohesive, but that’s just the cynic in me I suppose.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 27, 2019 at 10:48 am

          Thanks Flareon.

          FWIW I’ve heard Rukaiyah Adams specifically say it won’t be anything like the Pearl.. But of course it’s hard to know exactly because it’s just a concept at this point and there are so many variables. In my view, the Albina Vision is the most promising approach to development in the Rose Quarter that has ever been proposed. The fact that it is coming from someone like Adams makes a very big difference IMO.

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            Flareon March 27, 2019 at 11:07 am

            Sure…she says that to appease potential opposition, but if it actually happens it will 100% be a new Pearl. New housing is always more expensive – especially prime riverfront properties. The idea that it will be a recreation of the old neighborhood is too optimistic imo. Plus, this plan has such a tiny chance of actually happening and I’m sure all the people involved know this, so I wonder what the prime motives here actually are.

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    Chris March 27, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Great interview Jonathan. A couple of telling excerpts from his responses:

    “This project was not set up to try to deal with a major climate change issue.”

    Clearly not.

    And this one:

    “Well, I have yet to hear from folks who are talking about the climate what their alternative is for dealing with the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter. I have not heard a valid answer for that. I’ve yet to see an alternative at this point that gets commerce and other traffic through I-5 and that we could work on right now… And I realize congestion pricing is one of those things that’s part of this whole package.”

    This answer makes no sense. The alternative for dealing with the bottleneck is congestion pricing, which he acknowledges is an available tool, but then says he hasn’t heard of a valid answer for congestion.

    He also raises the the equity issue, which is fair, but overstated given the affluence of most peak I-5 drivers (as demonstrated by Joe Cortright’s analyses). Rather than use equity as a reason for inaction, I wish he would simply propose an exemption for lower income folks.

    Overall, very disappointing positions taken by my senator. Thanks Jonathan for doing this important work.

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      Flareon March 27, 2019 at 10:48 am

      “haven’t heard a valid answer” is politician double-speak for “haven’t heard an answer that I like”

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 28, 2019 at 10:18 am

      How would one enforce an inaction for lower income folks? Perhaps a scarlet letter on their auto to indicate they are exempt?

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    Aaron March 27, 2019 at 10:50 am

    “No. I do not think that erodes it at all. I think in fact it may actually help it. I think if we get something done on the freeway, it adds to the idea that we are in fact serious about changing the transportation system.”

    The senator seems to have a rather idiosyncratic definition for “changing the transportation system”. The I5 Rose Quarter project would in fact be a maintenance of the car-centric transportation system that we already have, so I don’t quite get the logical progression from this project to a potential high speed rail project, which would absolutely change the status quo. I could employ his logic to conclude that a repaving project for a local road would lead to a high speed rail. I don’t necessarily think the senator is confused but he has a lot invested in this project to the point that he makes logically nonsensical arguments in favor of it.

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      David March 27, 2019 at 11:11 am

      This quote caught my attention as well given the lack of understanding that went into it. This project is the definition of NOT changing the transportation system as it is a way of doubling-down on what we already have in place.

      Great insights overall Jonathan. This is also instructive as to why the Oregon Legislature is ill-equipped to handle climate change legislation. They will continue to get their annual reports stating that things are getting worse but the inability to tie together that they funded these projects with the fact that 40% of carbon emissions is due to transportation is a problem that requires different minds in the room. We aren’t going to decrease emissions on a large enough scale without finding an effective way to change how people get to where they are going.

      A silver lining on this interview, at least he didn’t try using the line about improving safety as a major reason to move forward.

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    JaredO March 27, 2019 at 11:18 am

    The most frustrating part of the exchange for me (though there are many):

    If we could spend the money on something else, would you support that?

    “If we could, Yes. But we can’t.

    This money may have to go to projects in the road right of way (thanks to the Oregon Constitution), but that includes sidewalks, bike paths, repavings, traffic calming, etc.

    It could pretty much build out the entire 2030 Portland Bike Master Plan. Or massively tackle sidewalk shortcomings. Or implement Vision Zero, saving scores of lives.

    The people who earmarked the project are the Oregon Legislature. They can change what the bill said. To say we can’t spend it on something else is simply incorrect.

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      Flareon March 27, 2019 at 11:25 am

      He’s right though. They literally can’t. The Rose Quarter project was listed specifically in the recent statewide transportation bill.

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        JaredO March 27, 2019 at 11:59 am

        To be clear: he’s a State Senator. They’re the people who write the laws. Or rewrite the laws if they really want to. That’s their job.

        To claim they can’t use the money on something else is simply wrong. Yes, they would have to change the law. But they’re the people who could do it if they wanted.

        It would be a different case if he said “Yes, I want to do something different with these dollars… and have introduced a bill to do that.” What he’s saying is “there was a deal cut and I’m not willing to revisit that deal.” Which is very different than saying he can’t do something. It’s saying he won’t.

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        mh March 28, 2019 at 10:31 am

        Then modify the specifics of the Rose Quarter project become implementing a trial of congestion pricing.

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    JaredO March 27, 2019 at 11:25 am

    The other thing that’s frustrating is to say just “it’s a small section of freeway.”

    It’s *five. hundred. million. dollars.* (Probably will end up being a lot more, given the way ODOT manages large projects.)

    That’s the same problem Commissioner Eudaly had when saying roughly “I don’t necessarily think fixing this poorly designed interchange on I-5 is a terrible idea.”

    This is a MASSIVE amount of money we’re talking about. You shouldn’t measure it by mileage or by “this is a project, that bikeway is a project – everyone gets projects.”

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    grrlpup March 27, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Are these promises by the Transportation Committee written down anywhere? Is it really a “promise made to other people in Oregon,” or a deal made with other committee members or legislators? I do think there’s a difference. And I don’t see a compelling reason to support or accept this deal. It’s not like ODOT will like or protect me better next time around.

    A very interesting read; thank you to both Jonathan and Senator Frederick.

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    James A Hilsenteger March 27, 2019 at 11:42 am

    I’d like to hear a response to the idea that the current situation is harmful to climate change and the air pollution of the immediate neighborhood, including Hariet Tubman Middle School. Currently, the bottleneck stops traffic to a standstill most hours of the day and especially the hours when kids are in school. You have multiple vehicles, including big diesel trucks, just sitting there idling filling the air with concentrated air pollution. As a delivery person, I avoid that stretch like the plague. But that means I end up on surface streets in neighborhoods many times. Playing Devil’s Advocate here because these are Facts that the anti-expansion side needs to have good arguments to present in support of their (our) arguments.

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      GlowBoy March 27, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      The inefficiency and pollution from idling is always put out there as a reason we should expand roads, but the logic of this falls apart once you look at it.

      Expanding roadway capacity always leads to an increase in demand for the roadway in the long term. Which means, on balance, more pollution overall.

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        James A Hilsenteger March 27, 2019 at 1:19 pm

        I respectfully disagree with respect to the geographically concentrated pollution that currently affects this sector of Portland. One of the biggest impacts is on the students of Harriet Tubman Middles School. The school sits right next to lots and lots of idling diesel semi-trucks. The overall impact from expansion will be there, but the concentrated pollution currently falls upon one of the last neighborhoods of POC in Portland. Have you driven that section of I-5 anytime between about 7 am and 7 pm on any day (including Sunday)? I’m curious as to solutions to this current problem. How do we solve the current problem?

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          B. Carfree March 27, 2019 at 8:13 pm

          Actually, the onus is on those supporting adding lanes to prove that this stretch of freeway has unique characteristics not shared by any other road studied that would cause added lanes to not fill up in short order (UC Davis puts the fill-up time at seven years). What will result in worse air, four lanes of idling motor vehicles or six lanes? I think the answer is quite obvious.

          As to what would lead to a significant improvement in air quality, that’s going to take some real leadership from our legislature. We’re going to have to curb people’s car addictions. What’s the methadone equivalent for cars? Maybe support for e-bikes and much, much higher gas taxes to support transit as well as congestion pricing. How about we start collecting those avoided sales taxes from WA residents? That’s a good 20% of the I-5 traffic.

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            Middle of The Road Guy March 28, 2019 at 10:21 am

            Maybe fine Oregon companies for hiring workers from WA. Makes you wonder why they can’t find enough on this side of the river.

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          Chris I March 28, 2019 at 7:14 am

          We solve it with:
          1. Congestion pricing to reduce demand for the roadway. Fewer lanes of free-flowing traffic produce less pollution than more lanes of free-flowing traffic.
          2. Banning old diesel trucks from Oregon roads.
          3. Gas/Diesel tax increases.
          4. Strict emissions controls on all vehicles in Oregon. Most are exempt from DEQ because they are registered outside of the counties that require it.

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            Middle of The Road Guy March 28, 2019 at 10:23 am

            And population control. We limit Oregonians only one license per household.

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          Johnny Bye Carter March 28, 2019 at 9:42 am

          Seems that congestion doesn’t create pollution, but rather more people driving does. This project makes room for more people driving, and thus will increase pollution.

          https://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/07/06/urban-myth-busting-congestion-idling-and-carbon-emissions/

          It’s easy to blame idling diesels since they put out more pollution than cars, but they’re not sitting for hours at a truck stop. This is very slow moving traffic and the truckers are professional drivers with low gears that usually stay moving slowly while idiots in cars play the accordion game taking turns sitting still for 30 seconds. These cars are mostly newer vehicles with fancy computers ensuring that the engines aren’t getting more gas than they can efficiently burn. Both diesels and gas burning cars pollute more when they’re moving fast.

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            mh March 28, 2019 at 10:35 am

            Very little wind resistance at 5mph – gas mileage is great if you can crawl without braking much.

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          SD March 28, 2019 at 10:42 am

          ODOT has not demonstrated that idling cars and trucks or pollution outside of Tubman will be decreased to any significant degree. Any belief that this will happen is pure speculation.

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      Johnny Bye Carter March 27, 2019 at 3:24 pm

      “Currently, the bottleneck stops traffic to a standstill most hours of the day and especially the hours when kids are in school.”

      And the same thing when happen if this project is completed. And if it’s completed there will be more space for more cars to sit idle on the freeway.

      The traffic is caused by people changing lanes, from exiting and entering the freeway. This project adds more lanes to change into and will add more opportunities for slow-down.

      You are not going to build your way out of congestion in a city. The only way to get rid of all these cars clogging the roads is to get more cars OFF the roads rather than make more space for them to get onto clogged roads.

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        mh March 28, 2019 at 10:37 am

        Close some entrances and/or exits. Simplify the %$#! thing.

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    Tom Hardy March 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    From reading Senator Fredrick’s responses on a revival of the Albina neighborhood is a large cluster of Highrise Tenements interspersed with parking structures on the caps over the freeway.
    I remember riding my bike through the neighborhood before the freeway was housing for shipyard workers. Many had 1-3 families per 2 room suite. Others were concrete structures but not well reinforced with steel or rebar.
    Is this what he would prefer?

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    GlowBoy March 27, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    What on earth does this project have to do with high speed rail, other than (1) they both involve parts of our transportation system and (2) they might have something to do with our attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? You’re comparing apples and giraffes.

    High speed rail is for intercity passenger travel, which may reduce GHG emissions by getting people to switch from planes or automobiles when traveling to places like Eugene and Seattle.

    This project is to smooth flow and increase capacity on a section of freeway that’s a bottleneck, primarily impacting local transport of people and goods.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 27, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      My hunch is that Sen Frederick talked up rail so much because he was trying to appeal to the BikePortland audience. He expressed that he’d already heard a lot of negative responses (to put it mildly) from this audience after some tweets and our story 2 weeks ago.

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      DSKJ March 28, 2019 at 7:26 am

      There is a direct connection to *light rail*, which is that an East Side MAX line (linking Rose qtr toTillikum Crossing, creating new capacity & redundancy in case of Steel Bridge collapse) is an alternative use of the same funds (budget $300-400m) which would be located in the exact same stretch of land, and would both increase mass transit access and reduce freeway traffic. I encourage people to say “east side MAX” in submitted comments and public hearings. It’s a tangible, specific, environmentally preferable use of the same funds in the same spot.

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    BradWagon March 27, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Those answers were painfully bland, unimaginative and status quo. I learned nothing new that I couldn’t have just assumed he would say.

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    GlowBoy March 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    The “Let me ask you this question: What is the problem in terms of it adding some capacity at that spot?” response really gets to the heart of the matter.

    Proponents of this project seem to be talking out both sides of their mouth: first denying that the project would add capacity but also talking about how we’re better off because it will “eliminate a bottleneck” (which, by definition, means increasing capacity).

    At least most of us opponents of the project are honest, in acknowledging that this project would increase the freeway’s capacity … and, importantly, that we are opposed to that.

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      Charley March 27, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      EXACTLY.

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    MTW March 27, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    “I think that this particular project will have a minimal impact on climate. I think it will have a greater impact, quite frankly, on the way we deal with the economy of Oregon.”

    I think we’re in big trouble folks. If we can’t get a state senator from an urban (deep blue) district in Portland Oregon to prioritize the climate over short-term economic concerns, I just don’t know what to say. Green New Deal, Paris, whatever. None of it matters if people/politicians keep making the exact same calculation. That other people will have to sacrifice, not me.

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    Johnny Bye Carter March 27, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    “What is the problem in terms of it adding some capacity at that spot? What is so upsetting about the idea that somehow, at that spot, we will be able to have an easier flow of traffic for a very short length of freeway.”

    The problem is that it’s not a true statement.

    And I think you know what the problem is with lying to further your own agenda at the expense of the people.

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    joan March 27, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    They heard the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter was a problem, and they found their solution. It sounds like he’s unwilling to consider the possibility that the “solution” isn’t actually a solution.

    “Some have been given, frankly, misinformation about it.”

    This really frustrated me.

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      curly March 27, 2019 at 5:32 pm

      After reading Joe Cortright’s piece about the EA analysis and some misinformation contained within that analysis, it appears to me we are building (and funding) access to folks from Washington who really don’t want to live in our city, but still want the benefits of working here and living there. Sad that our electeds see issues through rose (quarter) colored lenses.

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        Matt S. March 28, 2019 at 5:46 am

        At least they’re paying income tax…

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        Middle of The Road Guy March 28, 2019 at 10:25 am

        Who is hiring those awful people?

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    Tom March 27, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    My take on this is that he made deals to support this project in return for support for the diesel emmision controls that he wants, as he repeatedly hinted at. Any such emmision controls would an enormous improvement in uban air quality, especially in areas close to shipping routes. Bike commuters would also be big winners if diesil emmisions were curbed, thus I can see why he might be irritated with the opposition from those that would benifit. I see so much emphasis on collisions, but the overall health impact of air quality on the average bike commuter is likely very much larger, with variation depending on how hard you breathe. There is a lot a scary research on air pollution that does not get near enough coverage on transportation blogs, and a lot of it ties back to diesel. I think it should be considered that he actually knows what he is doing, that there are politics to be played, support to be traded, and he can’t just put all his cards on the table.

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      Mad Mom March 27, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Unbelievable, he could have taken the new information that just came out of ODOT and intelligently pivot. Instead he is doubling down on Illegal NEPA work and an incompetent understanding of induced demand. This is our elected official? My concern for my kids going to Tubman being dismissed with hints of melodramatic misogyny. I have submitted solutions to ODOT, they are not looking for new solutions. So there is really nobody on the state Joint Transport Commitee who understands induced demand? That is the saddest part.

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    Middle of the Road Guy March 27, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    It could cost $5 and people would still be against it.

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      Johnny Bye Carter March 28, 2019 at 9:49 am

      If they paid me I’d still be against it.

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        Middle of The Road Guy March 28, 2019 at 10:27 am

        Exactly. It has little to do with money and much to do with ideology. It could be free and populated only with zero emitting vehicles and some people would be against it simple because “cars”.

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    X March 27, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    If it cost $5.00 and used a bunch of resources, tied up six kinds of traffic for many springs, summers, falls and winters, and didn’t really move the needle on throughput of bodies on I-5 or anywhere else, yep, I’m against it.

    A question for anybody: how many cubic yards of concrete in this puppy? Estimated amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere to produce one cubic yard : 350 pounds.

    What river bed are the boat loads of sand and gravel coming from?

    So take that five dollar bill and put eight more zeros on it. Add 20% because ODOT. I’m that much more against it.

    If too many of us vote Green, some tow truck driver is going to Salem in place of Mr. Frederick.

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      X March 27, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      Sure wish Mr. Frederick had promised to cut the Haden Island ramps instead. That would solve the traffic holdups a lot more effectively and cost much less –but then again, it’s not his money.

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    Josh Berezin March 27, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    I think it’s interesting that he describes supporters as people who understand that this project will “bring at least some change” but know it’s not “the end-all thing.” They sound very reasonable.

    But he caricatures opponents as people who “believe this is the way to suddenly turn around everything that’s taking place regarding global warming.” These people sound like maniacs.

    I wrote him a message about the project a few weeks ago. I wonder if he views me as one of those “very vocal,” “misinformed” constituents who is “mischaracterizing” the project and pretending to be “concerned about the kids.”

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    Pdxpaul March 27, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    I agree with the Representative

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      Middle of The Road Guy March 28, 2019 at 10:28 am

      He’s just representing the will of his district 🙂

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    Dan Kaufman March 28, 2019 at 12:00 am

    This RQ project is connected to the CRC. Frederick once bravely opposed the CRC. If RQ succeeds, the justification for a renewed CRC will be greater. https://www.blueoregon.com/2013/02/rep-lew-frederick-eloquent-voice-political-courage/

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    DSKJ March 28, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Lew Frederick is my state senator too. He’s nice guy… I’ve spoken with him a few times. But as this interview shows, he is far, far too timid and centrist for what is a very progressive district, and clearly out of touch with the urgency of the climate crisis. He is a deal- maker, working within existing frameworks (“can’t spend this money on anything but freeways…”) rather than having any sort of larger vision for change.
    Frederick needs to be replaced. He needs a serious primary challenger from the left in the next election. Anyone?

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    Andrew March 28, 2019 at 10:31 am

    So the end result of this “project” will be to move the bottleneck on Northbound I-5 to the Fremont bridge on-ramps. Oh Yeah, I forgot, the freeway already gridlocks there each day. So pass thru freight traffic is going to gain what in congestion relief? Southbound I-5 Gridlocks daily at the I-405 split. Same agrument.

    This reminds me of the the I-5 Southbound project that added a lane between the MLK off ramp and the Columbia Blvd on-ramps. Before the project traffic was stop and go from the Interstate Bridge. After the project stop and go traffic starts at Delta Park.

    I honestly don’t see what we gained in the big picture. Traffic is like fluid dynamics. I suspect the Rose Quarter project is really a piece of a larger vision for an I-5 Bridge.

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    Andrew March 28, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Found this interesting tidbit, that may shed light on the bigger picture, from a story in Willamette Week from May 2011, in the article “A Bridge too False” https://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17566-a-bridge-too-false.html. This might be the real reason for the Rose Quarter Project

    “That’s right: A 2010 governors’ independent review panel found the massive project (the CRC) will shave exactly 60 seconds off the peak morning commute.

    And here’s why: The Interstate Bridge and nearby interchanges are just one bottleneck. The project does nothing to fix the choke point at the Rose Quarter, five miles south, where I-5 narrows to two lanes.

    Today, the bridge actually serves as a traffic-control device by slowing the flow of cars headed toward the Rose Quarter. A wider bridge with streamlined interchanges will simply create a bigger jam down the road.”

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    Paul Cone March 28, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    I’m pretty sure he was against the CRC.

    https://www.columbian.com/news/2012/jan/12/crc-foes-all-stripes-share-concerns/

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    Josh G March 28, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Can anyone spare 500 million or so?

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    Josh G March 28, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    So sad that many people don’t care about clean air for the kids at Tubman and the rest of us who live in the neighborhood. There’s got to be better projects than this on the list.

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    Dave March 28, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Tubman really needs to move regardless of what happens with this project. It should never have been built in this location. The air isn’t going to be cleaner at the school if this project isn’t built, sorry.

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    Roberta Robles March 29, 2019 at 7:53 am

    I spoke with Lew Frederick at the end of the last legislative session 2018. I specifically yet verbally brought up the issue with congestion pricing, no build alternative and NEPA processes. He was informed of and understood the EA vs EIS issue, but perhaps he still doesn’t understand induced demand? He deferred me to Lee Byer and therefore I informed him (he was the Chair at the time) to the Joint House Committee on Transport on issues with the RQ NEPA process. This entire committee must be giving cover to ODOT and the shoddy environmental planning processes we are in now. I believe he still has time to pivot and reconsider the political climate; depends on how attached he is to his vision that a Prius is going to solve the Rose Quarter quagmire. They all want to build their big freeway pork projects elsewhere. We need a Freeway Moratorium now. Imagine three other freeway widening simultaneous NEPA processes we would have to organize against? Who has the time for this nonsense?

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    hedda April 3, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Why not ask him how this project ties into the Global Cities Initiative, which the city is part of, and which speaks to City Hall through Prosper Portland, and which helps certain US cities focus their energies on transportation ‘improvements’ that enhance the ability to participate in global trade (hence, the name of the project/collaboration)?

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    Roberta M Robles May 19, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    SHOUT OUT Thanks to Lew Frederick. He team has helped me navigate Salem. We are woven in design ideas with the Albina Coalition. There is woven hope gente!

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