Every day we travel past, on, or under structures and streets named for the people who had some relationship to its construction. Ladd’s Circle. Flanders Street. Naito Parkway. The Glenn Jackson Bridge.
Meeky Blizzard’s name is not attributed to a structure, because she made her mark on transportation and land use planning with the structure that was never constructed — the Western Bypass. Instead, the planned Western Bypass corridor from Tualatin to Hillsboro remains largely agricultural land, thanks to Meeky and other activists who started the group Sensible Transportation Options for People, also known by its apt acronym STOP. Meeky and other STOP members opposed the project and instead proposed alternate solutions that were eventually codified in the Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality (LUTRAQ) study.
After the demise of the Western Bypass in 1996 (which briefly re-emerged in the recent legislative session), Meeky went on to serve as Livable Communities Advisor to U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer until her retirement in 2012. Now living in rural Washington County, she still advocates for livable communities. Meeky testified against a freeway proposal in April, telling legislators that building freeways is “simply a waste of money.”
I recently sat down with Meeky in Portland City Hall to learn more about that fateful freeway fight and what lessons it might hold for today’s activists…