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Concerns aside, Metro Council gives ODOT $129 million for I-5 Rose Quarter project

Posted by on April 3rd, 2020 at 2:58 pm

I-5 from the Flint Avenue Bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite a majority of Metro Council expressing concerns about the future of a nearly $800 million project that will expand the I-5 freeway through the Rose Quarter, only two out of seven members voted against giving the Oregon Department of Transportation $129 million to continue working on it.

The 5-2 vote came at a meeting just hours after the Oregon Transportation Commission gave ODOT permission to move forward with the project without the rigorous environmental analysis called for by hundreds of Portlanders, many organizations and key local elected officials including Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. On the Metro Council agenda was a resolution to greenlight funding that allows ODOT to do two things: Purchase “right-of-way” parcels in the Rose Quarter where they’ll stage future construction equipment; and continue to pay expenses related to project development, outreach and preliminary engineering, and so on. (It’s the same funding passed by a Metro advisory committee last week.

Before voting on the resolution, Metro Deputy Planning Director Margi Bradway assured council members the funds were not tied to construction and that they should be considered in isolation of their feelings about the overall design or merits of the project itself. “You’re voting on a narrow issue,” she said. “Although there are larger issues raised with it.”

“Larger issues,” is an understatement. Just one year ago, Metro’s director of planning wrote a letter to ODOT tearing into claims made in their environmental assessment as being “not objectively true” and, “potentially misleading”.

“It is an impossible dream to relieve congestion at the Rose Quarter without moderating the volume of traffic at the peak periods. Therefore, it makes no sense for me to vote in favor of forwarding this project to its next phase in the absence of an EIS.”
— Bob Stacey, Metro Councilor

All the councilors expressed concern that the I-5 mega-project was moving forward without binding agreements in place with ODOT and there was consensus that more discussion about how Metro can impact the project is needed.

Councilor Bob Stacey voted for this funding last week. Now, given that ODOT won’t be required to perform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), he wishes he hadn’t. “I feel a little bit sideways about that now. I wish I had the vote to take over again,” he said. At Thursday’s meeting, Stacey tried to delay the resolution in order to get stronger commitments from ODOT about what form the project will take.

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“The benefit of having an EIS begins with the definition of a statement of purpose and need (referring to a specific section in EIS documents),” Stacey said. “Here the purpose and need appears to be that the legislature has decided to fund the Rose Quarter project and it’s time to get busy and start digging. A statement of purpose and need that looks at the problem that this project presumably addresses, would start with defining the options for relieving congestion at the Rose Quarter. Those options would include congestion pricing and a wide range of different designs. They would also include a maximum-build scenario, because relieving congestion at the Rose Quarter without congestion pricing is not possible without widening I-5 through the center of the city of Portland and without widening [I-84] as it intersects I-5. It is an impossible dream to relieve congestion at the Rose Quarter without moderating the volume of traffic at the peak periods. Therefore, it makes no sense for me to vote in favor of forwarding this project to its next phase in the absence of an EIS.”

Stacey was not alone.

Councilor Sam Chase.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Councilor Sam Chase, who’s running for a seat on Portland City Council and whose north Portland district would bear the brunt of a wider freeway, was the other “no” vote. He too has even more reservations about the project now that it won’t have an EIS. “The lack of an EIS creates a number of questions about how we’d move forward… I get concerned that we don’t have a clear partnership [with ODOT and the OTC].” 

“I’m in a dilemma,” Chase continued, “I don’t feel comfortable moving forward with significant resources without some components more clear.” Chase said he appreciated the letter written by OTC Chair Robert Van Brocklin in January that outlined 11 actions ODOT would take to address concerns from Portland officials. But he doesn’t think the language is strong enough.

“Almost every single one of them says, “we’ll consider” or “may”… It needs to be a commitment that is more forthright, not a ‘We might do these things’,” he said. “It is not a time for us to be hoping down the line that things work out.”

Washington County Councilor Juan Carlos González said he agreed with Stacey and Chase, but that he was “torn” between those concerns and what staff were characterizing as simply an administrative step in the project’s process. González, who also wanted an EIS, said he doesn’t feel comfortable moving forward with non-binding commitments. “However,” he added, “I also recognize that for a project like this to move forward there needs to be a degree of trust and a willingness to continue to have that conversation.” González ultimately voted yes.

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“I believe ODOT is capable of designing a project that mitigates the historic negative impacts of [the freeway’s] construction and presence.”
— Lynn Peterson, Metro Council President

Shirley Craddick, who represents Metro District 1, also said she has the same concerns at councilors Chase and Stacey; but she saw the funding vote and the project plans themselves as “two different discussions.” “I think we should move forward…then we need to have that second discussion.” Craddick also voted in favor of the funding.

Before voting “yes”, Councilor Christine Lewis said “It’s a frustrating place to be,” to have to separate support for funding the project when she also feels there’s not enough ODOT accountability built into it yet.

Councilor Craig Dirksen, who represents portions of Washington and Clackamas counties, seemed to be the least concerned member of council. “Based on the fact that this project has been approved at all different levels, and that the state, regional bodies, and even federal government agrees, I see little point in us trying to obstruct.”

In her comments before the vote, Council President Lynn Peterson said she was “disappointed” the OTC voted to not require the EIS. Peterson then expressed appreciation for ODOT’s actions in the past several months. “They’ve committed to expand the scope beyond what they did with their EA [Environmental Assessment] she said, “I think that’s important to note.” “I believe ODOT is capable of designing a project that mitigates the historic negative impacts of [the freeway’s] construction and presence.”

ODOT might not have smooth sailing through Metro from here on out. President Peterson sounded firm about the need for more binding agreements and accountability prior to any further approvals of the project. “How do we move beyond the ‘may’ and ‘consider’? We need to hear back from ODOT in their own words and then get it in an agreement,” she said. “I think we need to make it clear they’re not coming back to us for any further decisions like this unless we have an agreement.”

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

I’m disappointed by all those who expressed strong reservations about the project and how it’s moving forward, but then signed away their leverage by signing the check.

I’m sure they are sending their thoughts and prayers.

Betsy Reese
Guest
Betsy Reese

So now ODOT has the money and power to start commandeering private property for the uncertain I-5 RQ expansion project.

Even if some properties are not taken by ODOT immediately, PBOT is already directing private property owners who want to help revitalize Lower Albina to “coordinate projects” with ODOT’s I-5 widening. This will put property owners in a disadvantaged “motivated seller” position if they don’t want their property further mothballed by the looming freeway expansion.

Either way, ODOT may now be able tie up property and allow it to sit dormant for many years while the freeway project does or does not advance. Much of the property they are acquiring is part of the African American neighborhood that was destroyed by the freeway to begin with. This ROW acquisition funding release is one step further toward undermining efforts at reparations and restoration in this area as proposed by Albina Vision.

Alain
Guest
Alain

Without electeds and local and regional representatives using these words (or maybe they have), the Rose Quarter Project is being treated as a jobs program. And it will funnel short-term money and jobs into the economy. Other concerns (legitimate or not) will have a difficult time contending with this feature of the project. I don’t believe in the project, and I wrote letters in opposition. I live near the corridor, and this will directly impact me and my neighbors. But anyone outside the area, for the most part, has a more abstract set of concerns (alleviate traffic), even if they cannot prove the project will do what it professes to do. Councilor Dirksen’s vote can be seen as an example. Unfortunately, I don’t think the opposition was large enough and loud enough to make a difference. This is not meant to slight all the hard work done to resist the project. I am grateful to those who worked so hard to fight this project. I just think it would take 10s of thousands to make OTC and ODOT change course. By design, they have a very narrow set of concerns.

David Hampsten
Guest

I live in a community that embraces cars, that engages in social isolation by driving SOVs everywhere, now more so than ever (our traffic went down initially, but is now hitting records on congestion, in spite of most things being closed.) My community, alas, takes pride in being America’s #1 in car-friendliness and being the least congested for all cities over 250,000, to the point that they have taxed themselves to build a full bypass ringroad around the city, already funded to be completed in 2022. Like most cyclists who cannot drive, I bitch about this. But unlike many of our cyclists, I try to leverage roadway improvements towards better bikeways, walking facilities, and transit.

After you’ve passed through your various stages of grief, anger, & resignation, might I suggest you channel your passion towards mitigating and modifying the Rose Quarter project to make Portland more friendly for other modes than cars? IMO, too much effort has been expended on trying to stop this project rather than in modifying it to better suit local needs. The deck was stacked against Portland from the get go, by a conservative Democratically-controlled state legislature than never cared for uppity Portland in the first place, which is why they designed this as a expressway to get through the city as fast as possible.

Roberta Robles
Guest
Roberta Robles

Honestly I dont understand why they keep shoveling money into a project team that is burning through consultation fees and community concerns. The prime contractors are Aecom. Why are we continuing with contractors who have been laughing all the way to the bank with another year of billable hours to say we are ignoring thousands of comments. Slow clap for “just keep the machine going” argument. Good thing we lasted this long, that land should now be worth significantly less. Do you think Metro is capable is negotiating a better deal then they gave the Sondland hotel. They arent housing the homeless, they are in cots next door. Slow clap… Metro saved the day again.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Commissioner Stacey’s complaint about purpose and need jumped out at me. The executive summary of the environmental assessment has explicit sections explaining both. Don’t think it would change with an environmental impact statement which would address the impacts of the action. Can anyone up to speed on NEPA shed light on why this would be an issue?

Oregon Ex-Pat
Guest
Oregon Ex-Pat

NEPA is a purely procedural law, meaning that it requires agencies to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of their actions, but it does not require them to stop or forego the action even when environmental impacts are severe. This is why it does not offer a meaningful roadblock to actions like this boondoggle.

However, when environmental impacts are significant, which is partly based on the stated purpose and need, an EIS must be completed. Federal agencies are notorious for trying to get through the NEPA process with an EA, because an EIS requires much more significant time and expenditure to study the likely impacts. This is why environmentalists sue to require an EIS, because it significantly delays a project and can therefore be used to rally public support, wait out the initial public momentum of a project, and spend down the allotted budget on the study. This is why, through litigation, it can offer some impediment to big projects.

I’ve done a lot of work on NEPA over the years, and it’s all part of a sick, dysfunctional, and totally broken way of making decisions about public projects in the US. Its extensive use by progressives has, for example, caused conservatives to lose faith in the judiciary and to start to pack the courts with judges who will not be sympathetic to NEPA suits.

In the end, these projects typically get built, but at vastly increased cost and with years (sometimes decades) of delay. So the environment still loses, but it costs way more than it needs to. It’s the kind of lose-lose outcomes that, in my opinion, defines American politics.

bikeshoe
Guest
bikeshoe

March 27: Metro Announces Layoffs Affecting 40% Of Staff
April 03: $129 million up in smoke.
But what is a few million dollars after all?

todd.boulanger
Guest
todd.boulanger

Bikeshoe: I agree the optics dont look good. Though things may not be this simple or black and white in the short term: the staff salaries should come out of a different fund than the Rose Quarter project RoW and design funds. Perhaps Chris can chime in about thus budget kungfu detail.

Though the one big takeaway is that many jurisdictions have or will lay off peak season or PT staff this month, not just Metro. What makes Metro so different is that as an MPO it has taken on many more functions than most MPOs, many of which are entertainment based and thus not essential like the Zoo etc.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

Big thanks and props to those councilors who did vote against the resolution.

> Before voting “yes”, Councilor Christine Lewis said “It’s a frustrating place to be,” to have to separate support for funding the project when she also feels there’s not enough ODOT accountability built into it yet.

Frustrating? Frustrating? Really?!

As someone who supported Christine Lewis during her Metro candidacy, I must say I’m very disappointed with this outcome. Frustrated, you might say. It makes it all the worse that Lewis was the one who made the initial motion here (seconded by Dirksen). (About 54 min in – see ‘video’ link here https://oregonmetro.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=771300&GUID=C7D718A2-8EFD-4226-A702-844CF0804B57 … sidenote, it seems President Peterson needs to review Roberts Rules, or at least what “Lay it on the table” means).

While Lewis claimed handing this back to JPACT was a “quandary”, Sam Chase and Bob Stacey clearly understood a pause would buy Metro time to force ODOT to bring to the table much more certainty about what the project will ultimately be and whether it meets Metro’s desires for the community. But with this vote, as a staffer clarified mid-discussion, we see the opposite of a deliberative pause: “This allows proceeding earlier than planned in Right of Way [and] we could anticipate another amendment based on [the cost increases]”.

So this Metro vote actually facilitated a blind dash toward a project whose only certainty is its unaffordability.

Councilor Lewis, with all due respect, writing a $129 million dollar check to an entity you feel lacks “accountability” is the exact opposite of practicing “accountability” yourself. And in the newly developing economic context, in the midst of layoffs to Metro’s own staff no less, laying out for a $129 million installment on a $450M project that is (with Metro’s help) becoming a $795 million dollar monstrosity is not just “unaccountable”… it’s unconscionable.

Telly Amans
Guest
Telly Amans

David Hampsten
I live in a community that embraces cars, that engages in social isolation by driving SOVs everywhere, now more so than ever (our traffic went down initially, but is now hitting records on congestion, in spite of most things being closed.) My community, alas, takes pride in being America’s #1 in car-friendliness and being the least congested for all cities over 250,000, to the point that they have taxed themselves to build a full bypass ringroad around the city, already funded to be completed in 2022. Like most cyclists who cannot drive, I bitch about this. But unlike many of our cyclists, I try to leverage roadway improvements towards better bikeways, walking facilities, and transit.After you’ve passed through your various stages of grief, anger, & resignation, might I suggest you channel your passion towards mitigating and modifying the Rose Quarter project to make Portland more friendly for other modes than cars? IMO, too much effort has been expended on trying to stop this project rather than in modifying it to better suit local needs. Recommended 2

We agree that the bicycle and pedestrian groups should have spent most of their political capital on improving the project to better fit their needs than outright trying to stop the project. The Rose Quarter Congestion back-ups have increased dramatically over the past 10 years, which has resulted in a huge increase in injuries & deaths to pedestrians & cyclists on parallel Eastside back-roads as more cars try to avoid the highway bottlenecks near the Rose Quarter, which also has greatly delayed emergency vehicles getting through. It’s time for everyone to work together to improve the project instead of just trying to obstruct the process. Despite the wishes from a vocal minority in Portland, we will never be able to convince more than about 18% of the population who have concerns about riding in busses and trains next to other sick people, and/or have challenging time & distance constraints in getting children to school and also have to visit 6 to 12 customers per day to deliver samples & products. For most Portlanders; trying to do all that within 6-to-8 hours by bus,train,bike or walking is not possible. 78% of people will be driving Electric Vehicles in Portland area within 15 years, and the resulting carbon footprint from autos and trucks will drop from 8% to 4% of our total carbon footprint. Our goal should be to funnel as many fast-moving cars as possible away from pedestrians and cyclist in order to greatly reduce the high rate of accidents on the Eastside; which needlessly kills and mames hundreds of Eastsiders annually. Let’s improve street level designs of this project and get it done to save lives ASAP!!

Drs
Guest
Drs

The solutions to the problems you highlighted are tollingc/ongestion pricing, motor vehicle traffic diverters on non-arterial streets, and more density and concentration of development in core neighborhoods. Making the freeway wider will only exacerbate congestion and cut through traffic in the long run by making it easier and more attractive for people to live in sprawling development patterns with massive commutes. Yes, done people will always have to drive in delivery vehicles or single occupancy vehicles for some of their transportation. But your assertion that the non-sov mode share will never exceed 18% is flatly wrong. Many cities around the world have successfully flipped their paradigm from auto-centric to transit and active transportation-centric. It just requires vision and leadership that have thus far been lacking in the Portland metro region.

David Hampsten
Guest

“It just requires vision and leadership that have thus far been lacking in the Portland metro region.”

Drs, there’s been no lack of excellent vision and leadership in Portland on this project, nor does anyone in Portland really disagree that this project will exacerbate congestion and do all kind of negative things in the local community. The point is that Portland leadership is apparently all but useless when dealing with the state legislature, who clearly and quite honestly don’t care for Portland and its leadership, to the point they’ve rammed this project through. Those who fought to block the project have lost. Now what does the community do next? Complaining about your state government isn’t going to help at all, nor will passively doing nothing.

Drs
Guest
Drs

While I agree that at some point, there is more to be gained by working with the project to try to extract some active transportation and transit concessions, I think the comment that I was responding to is making absolutely unfunded assertions about long term safety benefits that will accrue to the community from this project. Some paint protected bike lanes and ada-compliant curb ramps are not going to even come close to mitigating for the increase in number of deadly machines entering the city at unsafe speeds.It is naive and foolish to assume that the gradual electrification of the motor vehicle fleet will magically lead to low carbon emissions (and the poster made completely incorrect assertions about the percentage of carbon emissions that come from transportation fuel in Portland. It’s not 8%, it’s 40%). Even if it does, that doesn’t mean that the alarming increases in motor vehicle crash related fatalities will decline in the absence of a revolution in street design, law enforcement and the attitude of motorists. The glaringly obvious point is that this project will result in more motor vehicle trips, more miles traveled in sovs per person, and more potential traffic carnage that will have to be mitigated for, which will offset any gains that improved street designs might bring. As far as local leadership had been concerned, the message from city and regional government has been conflicting and muddled for years. City council and metro have waffled for years on whether or not to support this project. The public message should have always been, ‘we think this project is a BAD idea, but we’ll do what we can to claw back some palatable options for the community that is going to pay an awful price.’ instead, leaders have gone back and forth, sometimes lamenting the community impacts, sometimes trumpeting the motor vehicle-centric talking points off odot and the car industry. Metro should not authorize property acquisition until odot agrees to work with local government to institute tolling and pricing before going forward with this project and until they agree to work with albina vision and other community partners to come to a consensus agreement on pricy goals and outcomes. The message that metro sent with this vote is, ‘i hope odot will do the right thing, but we aren’t going to do anything to exert real pressure to push them to do the right thing.’

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

bikeshoe
March 27: Metro Announces Layoffs Affecting 40% Of Staff April 03: $129 million up in smoke. But what is a few million dollars after all?Recommended 7

Metro could have kept every one of them on payroll…but didn’t. Just kicked them to the curb. Unbelievable.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Roberta Robles
Honestly I dont understand why they keep shoveling money into a project team that is burning through consultation fees and community concerns. The prime contractors are Aecom. Why are we continuing with contractors who have been laughing all the way to the bank with another year of billable hours to say we are ignoring thousands of comments. Slow clap for “just keep the machine going” argument. Good thing we lasted this long, that land should now be worth significantly less. Do you think Metro is capable is negotiating a better deal then they gave the Sondland hotel. They arent housing the homeless, they are in cots next door. Slow clap… Metro saved the day again.Recommended 2

You answered your own question. Those who receive money, contractors, know the numbers to call and who to take out to lunch.

Buff Brown
Guest
Buff Brown

Great article, as always, Jonathan. I honestly don’t know how you do it, not just the great writing, but the perseverance through the constant bad news, bad decision-making, two-faced political speak, disingenuousness, and racial whitewashing (an ironic term, but fits). You are my hero.

Lawyer Up
Guest
Lawyer Up

Time to lawyer up. An EIS is clearly legally required. Get lawyers to fight for it. If the EIS is crap, get lawyers to fight that. The end result will be years of delay allowing new leaders to be elected that will stop the project. This is how an unneeded new freeway through Eugene wetlands got stopped. Wise current leaders would realize the waste and stop pouring money down the hole now and fund cheaper, real solutions (e.g., congestion pricing, transit, biking etc.).

Also, if people really regret their vote, they should “move to reconsider” under Roberts Rules of Order. They may not defeat the measure, but at least they won’t be on record as being foolish suckers.

P.S. A hearty thanks to Bike Portland for important, hard work in tough times.

Ronald Buel
Guest
Ronald Buel

So Lynn Peterson, Shirley Craddick, and Juan Carlos Gonzales all wanted an EIS but they will give ODOT a check for $129 million now to acquire right of way and do more engineering? How does ODOT get the school district and Rukiyah Adams of Albina Vision on their letter? This is a classic bait and switch for both the School district and the Vision. ODOT doesn’t have to put up $500 million for lids or $500 million for putting parking underground for the Vision, AND THEY WON’T. There is no question the lids they now plan will push air pollution out towards Harriet Tubman as they build the ramps right up to the school door. Let me get this straight — Peterson wants a written agreement now that she is letting ODOT spend more than $100 million and has given away her leverage. Now they will claim, but we’ve already spent all this money. What does an “outcomes based” project mean anyway — what a promise? Does anyone really believe this project has a purpose and need statement that says anything meaningful? Safety — there are MANY less safe places on State highways and federal freeways in the region. Congestion — moving this bottleneck less than half a mile down the freeway to the South does not alleviate congestion on this very congested section of I-5. And what about the demand that will be induced by the additional lanes? With the Columbia River Crossing, ODOT and OTC proved you couldn’t trust them to do anything but build the project they think they have funding for. The absence of any concern for climate change or cancer-causing diesel particulates is breathtaking — by the Governor, by the OTC, by ODOT, by JPACT, by Metro and by Lynn Peterson, Craddick and Gonzales. We also need to throw Wheeler and Eudaly out of office for buying off on this while pretending to want an EIS. They are up for re-election! And who will be the first to file a lawsuit?

Ron Swaren
Guest
Ron Swaren

Build the Western Arterial Highway. Or in a few more years I-405 will be the next spot in crisis. ODOT is plodding through quadrants of the inner city freeway loop. I’m not sure that they have big plans for the SE Quadrant, but the SW Quadrant is already approaching crisis mode despite the Blue Line.

drs
Guest
drs

Just toll the freeways. Short of that, let congestion get worse, until people either move closer to work, or choose another mode of transportation. A western highway would only catalyze more development outside the UGB and further contribute to regional sprawl, making traffic WORSE, and necessitating more freeway widening. It’s a vicious cycle that you can’t build your way out of.

Terry Amour
Guest
Terry Amour

Ron Swaren
Build the Western Arterial Highway. Or in a few more years I-405 will be the next spot in crisis. ODOT is plodding through quadrants of the inner city freeway loop. I’m not sure that they have big plans for the SE Quadrant, but the SW Quadrant is already approaching crisis mode despite the Blue Line.Recommended 0

Ron, you are right on the mark!!

Terry Amour
Guest
Terry Amour

drs
Just toll the freeways. Short of that, let congestion get worse, until people either move closer to work, or choose another mode of transportation. A western highway would only catalyze more development outside the UGB and further contribute to regional sprawl, making traffic WORSE, and necessitating more freeway widening. It’s a vicious cycle that you can’t build your way out of.Recommended 1

No development is NOT allowed outside the urban growth boundary… That’s why it’s called a “boundary”. I have hundreds of acres west of Scholls that I can’t build on other than to improve my grandfathered outbuilding; as long as I keep any improvements within the same footprint as the original. A Westside bypass probably won’t happen, but it would help reduce the amount of high speed cars traveling at over 70 miles an hour on our 2-lane roads between Hillsboro and Wilsonville (on which some bicyclists are taking their lives into their own hands next to those speeders with only about a 3’ shoulder. Very dangerous, and it’s getting worse every month.

drs
Guest
drs

What do you call hundreds of thousands of new homes in Clark County, Washington? Sounds like development outside the urban growth boundary to me.

Terry Amour
Guest
Terry Amour

Drs
While I agree that at some point, there is more to be gained by working with the project to try to extract some active transportation and transit concessions, I think the comment that I was responding to is making absolutely unfunded assertions about long term safety benefits that will accrue to the community from this project. Some paint protected bike lanes and ada-compliant curb ramps are not going to even come close to mitigating for the increase in number of deadly machines entering the city at unsafe speeds.It is naive and foolish to assume that the gradual electrification of the motor vehicle fleet will magically lead to low carbon emissions (and the poster made completely incorrect assertions about the percentage of carbon emissions that come from transportation fuel in Portland. It’s not 8%, it’s 40%). Even if it does, that doesn’t mean that the alarming increases in motor vehicle crash related fatalities will decline in the absence of a revolution in street design, law enforcement and the attitude of motorists. The glaringly obvious point is that this project will result in more motor vehicle trips, more miles traveled in sovs per person, and more potential traffic carnage that will have to be mitigated for, which will offset any gains that improved street designs might bring. >Recommended 1

Some conflicting statements there; ~~ so connecting 3 lanes of I-84 to the other 3-Lane sections on I-5 “won’t improve traffic”; but you mention that it will invite more people to live farther away and commute further distances, and cause more accidents. the reality is that traffic fatality studies show that most all the deaths to cyclists and pedestrians are concentrated in East Portland on back-roads and asterisks; from cars trying to avoid traffic on Rose Quarter bottleneck that backs cars up for miles. My discussion points were not about safety on highways, but from the data released, the accident rates couldn’t possibly be much worse than they currently are in the Rose Quarter area. Some of the proposed improvements to lane alignments and mergers also won’t hurt safety either.

As for our carbon footprint, this area fluctuates between 64 MMTs carbon/year up to 88 MMTs/year as the highest on record. The average is 68MMT/year; of which 25MMT (37%) is from Energy Development, 16MMT (24%) from Ag & Forest Fires, 15MMT (22%) from industry, 6.2MMT (9%) from Buildings, and the balance from Transportaion of all sorts (8%). In addition to this, of the carbon footprint in our region, less than 40% originates from this area. In fact, the 68MMT represents less than one millionth of the world’s CFP; so if we fell into the Pacific Ocean tomorrow; the world wouldn’t notice any improvement is difference.

Bottom line is that no one will be able to socially engineer more than 18% of our local citizens out of their cars (and that’s being generous), and the focus should be elsewhere for improving our Carbon Footprint from other factors and in the safety of our bicyclists snd pedestrians. Yes, let’s lobby for better road designs that keep safe distance & barriers (physical & noise) between bicyclists, pedestrians and cars. Most of our commuters riding around in electric cars have too many customer to visit per day (8-to-11), and we have to drop of our kids to school & daycare. There is no way by bike, walking, bus or MAX to make it all happen within a short work day; let alone the safety issue of picking up viruses on handrails in those tight public spaces. More people will continue to move into the area regardless of Rose Quarter fixes or not, so we will have to plan for more congestion regardless. The world population has expanded from 3 billion to 5 billion to 8 billion to 14 billion within 20 years. Adding 1 million in population to our local citizenry is a likely projection during that period so let’s focus in better & safer designs; because not being collaborative will just result in road, highway & infrastructure engineers just shoving it down all of our throats otherwise.

There are also a lot charts I have from ODEQ and DEQ that I could upload if you add that feature.

drs
Guest
drs

First of all, stop using the term ‘accident’ to describe motor vehicle collisions. Most crashes involving motor vehicles result from speeding and unsafe driving behavior.

“so connecting 3 lanes of I-84 to the other 3-Lane sections on I-5 “won’t improve traffic”; but you mention that it will invite more people to live farther away and commute further distances”
It will increase the flow of traffic through that section of freeway, which will, in the short term, allow vehicles to travel through the area faster. This will reduce the commute times of people that travel into Portland from the State of Washington and outer suburbs. This will allow more people to seek housing further away from centers of employment or seek employment further away from their current place of residence. This will lead to more people driving more miles per day on the freeways and streets of Portland and the surrounding communities. This will lead to more traffic, more crashes, more carbon emissions, more death. The more miles people travel in vehicles, the more negative impacts of driving are inflicted on the surrounding community. In the long run, the new lanes will fill up with more cars and congestion will just get worse if you build additional freeway lanes. Look at EVERY single freeway widening project that has ever been built in any city in the United States. They don’t relieve congestion and they induce sprawl. Most studies show that when you add capacity to freeways that are already congested, it takes fewer than five years for additional traffic to completely fill the added capacity.

“traffic fatality studies show that most all the deaths to cyclists and pedestrians are concentrated in East Portland on back-roads and asterisks; from cars trying to avoid traffic on Rose Quarter bottleneck that backs cars up for miles”
Really? What studies are you referring to? I haven’t seen them. Most of the high crash corridors in East Portland are on east/west arterials. Many of them are nowhere near a freeway and would not see a reduction in motor vehicle traffic if the freeways were less congested. The only crash evidence that ODOT is using to justify the Rose Quarter project is the fact that there are an elevated number of fender benders on the freeway where vehicles are trying to merge in the Rose Quarter congestion.

“As for our carbon footprint…”
Here’s a link to a document that has real numbers on carbon emissions in the City of Portland. 42% of emissions come from transportation fuels. You have no idea what you are talking about.
https://beta.portland.gov/sites/default/files/2020-02/climate-data-report-final-31janupdate.pdf

“Bottom line is that no one will be able to socially engineer more than 18% of our local citizens out of their cars”
The Netherlands did it. They used to have an SOV mode split that was roughly the same as it is in the United States. Now their use of transit and active transportation dwarfs their SOV mode share. Vancouver, B.C. did it. Their motor vehicle mode share was similar to what it is in Portland until they went all in on density and transit, starting in the late seventies. Just because YOU don’t want to take transit doesn’t mean that hundreds of thousands of people in the metro region wouldn’t if it was more frequent and efficient than it is right now.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Even if most crashes involving motor vehicles result from speeding and unsafe driving behavior, most of the resulting crashes are unintentional; i.e. accidental.

It also seems obvious that one of you is talking about Portland-specific emissions, and the other about statewide Oregon emissions, so it’s quite possible both sets of numbers are right, and you both know what you’re talking about. It’s not obvious (to me) which is proper scope for this discussion.

drs
Guest
drs

If you drive in a manner that is, by definition, unsafe, I don’t see how the resulting damage, injuries, and death that is caused can be termed to be ‘accidental.’ Every person that is licensed in this state has gone through formal instruction in which they were informed about how to drive safely. If they choose not to follow those instructions and their choice results in injury or loss of life of another person, I don’t see how you can term that choice, or the outcome of that choice, to be an ‘accident.’

Here’s the statewide data:
https://www.oregon.gov/energy/energy-oregon/pages/greenhouse-gas-snapshot.aspx

The statewide transportation sector is much, much closer to 40% than it is to 8%.

We can look at national numbers, too:
https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

No matter how you slice your location data, you are never going to come up with transportation emissions accounting for anything like 8% of total emissions anywhere in the United States. It is going to be a higher portion in every single corner of the country.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

“Accident” describes intentionality, not causality. If I put my hand in the meat grinder to pull something out, and I lose a finger, that is an accident, even if I received formal instruction to never do that, and even my behavior was obviously unsafe and the outcome unsurprising to my horrified co-workers. I have no objection to using the word “crash”, and I generally prefer it, but it is wrong to scold someone for describing an unintentional auto mishap as an accident.

Hopefully Terry Amour will upload a source for the data and clear up the question of exactly what it characterizes.

drs
Guest
drs

Understood. And the people that are causing crashes are knowingly and INTENTIONALLY driving in a dangerous fashion more often than not.