No More Freeways
What’s really going on with the controversial I-5 Rose Quarter project?
No More Freeways coalition requests more time for feedback on environmental impacts of I-5 expansion
A coalition with concerns over the State of Oregon’s planned $450 million expansion of Interstate 5 through Portland’s Rose Quarter have requested more time to consider the project’s environmental impacts.
The Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have justified the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway project as a way to “restore” the traditionally African-American neighborhood that the freeway runs through.
But a new animated video released today by the No More Freeways coalition shows that a wider freeway will not only encroach further into that neighborhood, it will bring toxic fumes from cars and diesel trucks even closer to students and staff at Harriet Tubman Middle School.
They offered free coffee and donuts, and some bad news: The bridge they were giving it out on will be removed if the Oregon Department of Transportation ever breaks ground on their $450 million I-5 Rose Quarter project.
Volunteers from the No More Freeways coalition and Bike Loud PDX hosted the event with an aim to educate people about the project and add signatures to a petition they plan to deliver to Portland City Council this Thursday.
I was there for just a few minutes and was surprised to be greeted by Jim Howell and Ron Buel, two veterans of Portland’s past freeway fights. They were both eager to show me a strip of grassy hillside adjacent to the current I-5 freeway that separates thousands of polluting cars from students at Harriet Tubman Middle School. “That’s where ODOT wants to put the new lanes,” Buel said.
The Flint Avenue bikeway and bridge — a popular route from north/northeast Portland that will be torn down if the I-5 Rose Quarter project moves forward — will be the site of a protest rally Tuesday morning. The event is being co-hosted by No More Freeways and BikeLoud PDX.
Organizers want to raise the profile of opposition to the $450 freeway expansion ahead of a City Council hearing on Thursday where Mayor Ted Wheeler and commissioners are set to adopt amendments to the Central City 2035 plan.
No More Freeways says the I-5 Rose Quarter project is an, “unnecessary, counterproductive $450 million freeway boondoggle.” The Flint Avenue bridge has become a focus of their campaign not only because it’s a cycling route but also because of the “vital connection” it offers to Harriet Tubman Middle School, a Portland Public School set to re-open to students this fall.
(Text by Emily Guise and Catie Gould, photos by Ted Timmons)
On a bright and showery Saturday morning this past weekend, ODOT hosted biking and walking tours of the changes planned to go with the I-5 Rose Quarter Project. ODOT officials including Region 1 Planner Megan Channell and Transit and Active Transportation Liaison Jessica Horning teamed up with Doug Zenn, a consultant for HDR, Inc. (a construction firm) to lead a bike tour of the area, while other ODOT staffers led a walking tour.
This was a great opportunity for a hands-on look at the proposed surface street changes we shared in detail on Friday. Here’s what we saw and learned…
When they explain their support for spending hundreds of millions to add two new on/off freeway lanes and freeway shoulders to Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter, Portland city leaders have a go-to answer: better surface streets.
It’s true, Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded last month, that more freeway throughput at this interchange would do “very little to arrest congestion.” Instead, more driving is likely to fill any new space that might open up on the freeway, ultimately leaving cars and trucks as jammed as before (though possibly elsewhere on the road system).
But from Portland’s perspective, Wheeler said, the $450 million Rose Quarter project is “mostly a bicycle and pedestrian play.”
OK. So we wanted to know what, exactly, are taxpayers getting in this location that would improve biking and walking?
On Thursday afternoon Portland City Council members got an earful of opposition to the most expensive project in their 20-year Central City 2035 plan: The controversial proposal to invest $450 million to add new lanes and shoulders on I-5 between I-84 and I-405 through the Rose Quarter.
Council hosted the public hearing as part of their effort to adopt an updated Central City plan, which they hope to vote on in March. In recent weeks, No More Freeway Expansions — a grassroots coalition of neighborhood groups, nonprofit organizations and Portlanders who oppose the I-5 widening project — seized on the hearing as an opportunity to encourage council to remove it from the plan.