Minutes submitted by Allan Rudwick. A bit of stream-of-consciousness note taking since the meeting was a lengthy discussion.
About 20 people were in attendance.
Presenters: Doug Siu (ODOT), Stacey Thomas (ODOT Consultant HDR), Aaron Brown (No More Freeways PDX)
From Committee: Brad Baker, Allan Rudwick, Jonathan Konkol
7:05 Rose Quarter I-5 Expansion + Questions
Decades of planning – state has tried multiple times to widen this part of I-5. The presenters claim it was built too small originally and especially with I-405 going in it became a problem.
They mentioned the 2010-12 planning workshops which Eliot NA was a stakeholder to. Allan mentioned that Eliot attended all meetings and voted no
If built (they use language that implies it is guaranteed). There will be a 4 year construction window, with phases so not all roads will be closed at all times.
There are 3 major highways connecting in the area. I5 and 84 were built in the 60s, I-405 early 70s.
In 1987, the ‘Greeley-Banfield’ proposal would have further decimated the city grid.
A modified greeley-banfield proposal existed from 1990-96 and was abandoned due to public pressure.
In 2007, ODOT commissioned a design workshop. In the 2010-12 timeframe “70 designs” were considered. (Editorial- Allan submitted at least 6 of these with MS Paint).
The presentation uses the word “Improvements” many many times. However just because something is changing doesn’t make it an improvement. (Editorial- Allan thinks this word should be used more carefully.)
Public comment: “Isn’t this project a continuation of i5 cutting through neighborhood” and not a healing in any way. Public comment is cut down- only constructive comments and clarifications to the presentation will be encouraged until later.
Currently: Heavily used area by all modes of traffic.
New structures will be “Seismically resilient” although current ones are not near the top of the list of risks.
Highway covers will provide more space for bicycles and pedestrians
This project is projected to save 2.5 million hours of travel annually within project constraints area. Details in traffic operations section of EA documents.
“Vision zero” project will improve safety for all modes through the area.
Hancock Dixon overpass will change the way streets are connected and remove the Flint overpass.
Video shown with a “Drivers view” of the area.
Freeway lids: Why the hole in the cover? Ventilation and emergency access. This is still the overview phase. “A lot of design to get to still.” (Editorial: often the design phase public is told that the project is already past the point where we can make changes.)
Pollution is going to be “the same” with giant lid and ventilation – just possibly shifted a few feet based on where gaps in the lids are. If we had a “tunnel air wouldn’t be filtered just moved outside the tunnel.
New construction would be to a 9.2 earthquake standard or better.
Most pollution is from Diesel pre-2008 trucks.
Owner of trucking company below Bridges on attendance
On the lids: we can have trees, parks. “Anything we want”
Buildings on them versus what type of buildings? Possibly we could have a 1-2 story building but probably not a 6-story one. Possibly 3-story in some spots
Can’t dig out i5 due to disruption to traffic.
Lots of non local traffic on the freeway. Need access control to keep people safe. Buildings need access.
Certain properties affected by this project. Block by block impacts are different.
Ownership model… ODOT would let city of Portland own & manage buildings if they were built on top.
All of this is to say that “green space” is most likely. Specifically “Parks” surrounded by lots of polluted air.
ODOT and City worked together on process – this was “not an ODOT managed process [in 2010-12]”
Public Comments: Air quality modeling. Tubman students not supposed to go outside currently. Will this be worse with this project?
Noise concerns – this will make things louder for us.
Brilliant ideas wanted for how to use LIDs
Caps for construction staging – Doug said this was not true, there are cheaper ways to do staging. This is different than what other project staff have told us in the past
Public Comment: Other Freeway caps: Seattle freeway park? LID i5 group working on it currently.
What assumptions are made about Regional VMT with and without project? Consultant will get back to us.
Environmental phase over a year. 1000+ comments
How do we see this as different? Goal is to not displace unlike previous versions. Findings are of “no significant impact” – this is a leagal term.
Jobs: Investment in small businesses to work on project. Construction and design firms.
Auxillary lanes – pitched as a net win. They have been successful along 217 and I-5.
Economic benefits to area? No Cost Benefit Analysis has been done.
This is a National Environmental Project Assesment (NEPA). Needed for federal matching funding.
Currently they are defining scope, design criteria
Public Question: Does the “No build” traffic modeling include other freeway projects. Answer: Master model that includes lots of other regional freeway projects. Some trends included, some not. Tolling not included.
Air quality and noise, environmental Justice
Project area, each category gets its own area
Problems trying to solve:
405 SB to 84, many vehicles getting on i5 just to go 1 exit
Project will be fairly neutral for travel times on local streets. Some slightly faster, slower. Report is blaming bicyclists for traffic slow down due to new signal phasing.
Neighborhood. Are speeds being lowered for safety or anything? A road diet on N Wheeler proposed near the Moda center.
There are no projections with congestion pricing modelled.
They are “separate projects”. This doesn’t factor that in to that one.
Public comment: No build scenario… Is there a seismic upgrade?
Consultant: Paralyzes whole state if any link goes down?
Public comment: Amazed by Thompson water issues, dirt seems to be unstable under columns of I-5 north of project area by Thompson.
Project is trying to create space for pedestrians and cyclists on each block
No additional transit with this project
Project was coupled with North-Northeast quadrant plan. Supposedly integrated with city’s plans
Public concern: Ramps steeper than standards. Why are we putting in. When it’s not an improvement. Short answer is output of previous planning. 9% due to existing grade. Can’t give final grade but aware of grade challenges
MUP is to fix grade challenges
Air quality trends… Are the blue lines matching current data? National graph shows improvement but local may not
Difference is so small not to be an impact to human health. Slightly shorter distance. Benefit? Shouldn’t consider as benefit
Benefits exist outside of project
Hoping for existing regulations to help pollution
Which freeways did we should we locally look too show this is a good idea
Local projects 217 to 205
Capital highway to 217 i5 South
Seen operational improvements exceeding expectations for aux lane projects
Neighborhood effect? Threshold for human health?
Construction vehicles, dust control.
During construction, traffic down Flint. Flint causing pedestrians to get hit already. Traffic volumes measured at wrong time? Chaos in front of Tubman
A lot of potential traffic in front of school
$12M on air quality at Tubman already
“Traffic management plan and control plan”
In talks with PPS
Goal of project, taking traffic away from Flint
Portland versus ODOT. City supposedly at table
Why should these kids beat burden if i5 construction
Do boosters of project want their kids at Tubman? Guessing their kids aren’t going to Tubman. There’s going to be an impact, we need to mitigate
When we get to next phase, everyone gets to put in their comments. Conversations are active with PPS
A long time to work this out
“Not acceptable to send that volume through a school zone”
Next phase is design if all goes well.
No more freeways presentation
Dozens of buttons tomorrow
4 major platforms
Worst census tract for air quality
Driving is too energy intensive
Invest in transit
40% emissions in Oregon for transportation
We need to drive less
No traffic fatalities in a decade
ODOT owns much more dangerous facilities
No datasets included in EA document. Response from ODOT: will Fulfill request. We’re already 23 days in. [since this meeting, documents came out]
FHWA said they would prefer the numbers not be released. Don’t want to release information that is modifiable. Trying to get to this quickly. EA provides methodology and outputs.
What is the Delta VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled projection)? Information to be sent to us.
Harriet Tubman PTA in opposition
PPS had over promised and under delivered on Tubman so they are swamped with other efforts.
Comments now make a difference. Eliot has posted ways to comment online.
Comments affect legal standing to sue in the future.
Public Comment: Pastor lunch that ODOT talked to – Had no more freeways talked to them? They are just a small group of volunteers but they would talk to if we connected them.
Other freeway widening projects increasing VMT in state. Goal needs to be VMT reduction for Climate reasons.
Does ODOT have prioritization of non car modes? They look for opportunities. Most things are affecting city jurisdiction. Need to make improvements. What kinds of things would help that are under ODOT’s jurisdiction? We have issues in transportation planning with solos. Funding streams. Colors of money make it hard to spend on transit.
ODOT can prioritize non car
If no more freeways is successful, what’s next
Ultimately personal opinion swaying. Idea of auxiliary lane seems different than through lanes
NMF: Within Urban growth boundary, shouldn’t widen anything before congestion pricing
Would you call a plumber to fix a leak or buy a new $500 Million sink first? No congestion pricing in model is fatal flaw to this project- should do congestion project first.
We have to stop motordom. It’s so nice to be outside of a car.
Freeway industrial complex is benefitting from this project
Motion to approve Minutes: Approved 3-0
Motion: Write another letter regarding I-5 Project (still in opposition)