Today, according to reports from Willamette Week and The Portland Mercury, Albina Vision Trust and a number of elected leaders are officially revoking their support of ODOT’s proposed Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion.
I cast the first “no” vote by a public official on the “Rose Quarter Improvement Project” when I asked to separate the freeway from the rest of the N/NE Quadrant plan back in 2012. I was the only vote in opposition at that time. It was evident to me then that having a freeway expansion be the largest investment in our 2035 Central City Plan made no sense. And it was clear that the ‘surface improvements’ being offered up by ODOT would not offset the further injury to air quality, climate and safety that yet another urban freeway expansion would create.
It’s been a long effort since then, including the formation of the No More Freeways campaign in 2017, but I’m glad to see that Albina Vision and others have reached the inevitable conclusion that ODOT is fundamentally not responsive to community concerns, and that no amount of “mitigations” can offset the harms created by further expansion of urban freeways.
In the current moment, it’s also important to recognize that urban freeways have been devastating to BIPOC communities, that the original construction of I-5 split Portland’s largest Black neighborhood in half, and was part of a racist public construction agenda in Albina and its surrounding area. It remains a vital priority to correct that injustice, and I look forward to continuing to support the work of Albina Vision.
I’m delighted that the proposed Metro Transportation package includes $50 million for investment in the Albina neighborhood. Racial justice and climate justice are tightly interwound, and as a Metro Councilor I will prioritize both.