Letter from the Neighborhood Association Co-Chairs

By Allan Rudwick and Jimmy Wilson

Being co-Chairs of the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) has not been what we expected this year. We started out the year wanting to work on vacant land, diesel pollution and wanting to see the city pushed on houselessness. This year has seen the City put up people in the Convention Center for months. It has seen a dramatic reduction in pollution due to the pandemic. And it has seen neighborhood meetings move to the internet. One last thing we wanted to do was to keep space for neighbors to local residents to get help with their issues.

Along the way, the Eliot Neighborhood has been dragged into multiple other issues that we didn’t foresee. Interstate 5 widening near the Broadway Interchange seems to be moving ahead despite a high volume of comments in opposition to the project. The ENA has been vocally opposed to the project from the beginning and we may be getting our toes wet again. We have been contacted regarding rezoning land in the name of providing more affordable housing. We also have been approached by neighbors about crime around Dawson Park and the surrounding blocks. This issue is attracting neighbors to reach out to each other and rally around a common cause. 

We are still here, we are still supporting people in Eliot even though we are not always doing it in person. Thank you for continuing to be neighborly through these challenging times. It is not easy but we will get through this. Together

The I-5 Thorn in the Rose Quarter

By Ruth Eddy

On a rainy Saturday in October 1966, Governor Mark Hatfield presided over a ceremony celebrating the completion of Interstate-5 through the state of Oregon. Construction of the Marquam Bridge had just finished, the final piece of a 308 mile stretch of a highway that cost $300 million and would prove its role as the economic artery of the state.

Fifty years later, the burden of I-5 has only grown in importance. In 2010, government officials began planning for a project to address safety issues on the freeway, especially around the intersections of I-5, I-405, and I-84. The confluence of these freeways had become a predictable bottleneck for an expanding population. Tasked with finding a solution, the Oregon Department of Transportation proposed a project to add auxiliary lanes to ramps exiting and entering the highway, reducing collisions for cars trying to make quick lane changes. In 2017, the Oregon legislature budgeted another $300 million to complete the updates.

Since then, the estimated cost of the “Rose Quarter Improvement Project” has ballooned to nearly $800 million, and public opposition has grown apace.

Aaron Brown, founder of No More Freeways, along with a coalition of neighborhood and city organizers, is pushing for the Oregon Transportation Commission to instruct ODOT to perform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. Since the project got funding three years ago, Brown has been working against it as a labor of love. “This is how I’m choosing to spend my time when we have ten years to solve the climate apocalypse, right? Stopping a massive fossil fuel infrastructure in the backyard of Harriet Tubman middle school. It’s exhausting and pretty demoralizing at times and it’s pretty frustrating to see the ways which this project continues to churn forward.”

ODOT performed an Environmental Assessment (EA) in May 2019, which is required of any project that uses federal funds. “We certainly answered an awful lot of questions that you can see in there”, said Don Hamilton, spokesman for ODOT.  “A lot of the cultural issues, air quality, noise issues, a lot of things are in there.” However, Brown and his cohort are asking for even more to be done. 

An EIS is a more rigorous evaluation than an EA, and notably requires ODOT to look at a variety of alternatives to the stated plan. 

“There are different options that are formally posed, usually five, but not always and one of those options is always the do nothing option,” said Hamilton. The ‘Do Nothing’ option is what opponents of the project are most interested in, but with so many government contracts on the line, it is unlikely.


Still, No More Freeways and other community organizations have made enough noise for government officials to take notice. Governor Kate Brown slowed the process last December when she asked the Oregon Transportation Commission to “table the decision on the environmental review path for a few months.”

An important cohort of voices has been the youth movement against the project from the environmental justice club at Harriet Tubman Middle School to the direct action of Sunrise PDX, the local chapter of a national youth organization focusing on stopping the climate crisis.

The students have stood on the bridge near their school in opposition, stood outside of ODOT offices in the rain, and have spoken many times before a variety of state and local governing bodies to add their opinions to the public record. 

Students at Harriet Tubman are already affected by the current amount of traffic that passes dozens of feet from their classroom. The school has a multi-million dollar air filtration system that is tasked with cleaning the fine particulate matter exhausted by thousands of diesel trucks every day. Expanding the capacity of the interstate for even more trucks would spell greater health risks to their students and staff. 

Opponents of the project have varying reasons for their objections, with overlapping interests.

For Aaron Brown, ODOT’s safety argument is misguided. He got his start as a transportation advocate as the Board President for Oregon Walks, a pedestrian advocacy organization. “Spent too much time speaking at traffic vigils after traffic fatalities and seeing all these vulnerable people died, because we couldn’t get money for an ODOT crosswalk,” said Brown. Meanwhile, Brown says the section of I-5 in question hasn’t seen a traffic fatality in over a decade. 


A large amount of the finances for the project would be used to build caps over the freeway to reconnect parts of the community that were bisected by the original I-5 construction, which is a critical component of the design for the Albina Vision Trust, a community partner in the project. Don Hamilton admits this project will not repair the scars from the devastation in the last half-century but said the caps, “will help improve connections and rebuild and reconnect the two sides of I-5…” Hamilton paused, “…to a certain extent. We can’t fix the damage that was done in the past but we can help improve conditions and circumstances.” ODOT also plans to address this impact by contracting with minority-owned businesses.

However, the current plans for the highway caps would be unable to support the affordable housing and other large structures included in Albina Vision’s idea for the future of our neighborhood. Rukaiyah Adams, chair of Albina Vision, wrote to Governor Kate Brown, “The ground is special. It is a place where the racial inequity of urban renewal came, then came again, and again. Promises were made and broken. Black people and immigrants were displaced. Wealth was taken. The construction of I-5 was central to this unjust history and any future investment in the area should strive to repair the damage done.”

The criticisms of the project point in different directions, but all seem to overlap.  Harriet Tubman students are not only concerned about air quality, but as a school where 60% of the students are non-white, the effect on their lungs is also a racial justice issue. One concern rolls into the other and together the project has little support in the neighborhood. Still, it continues on.     

The ‘Rose Quarter Improvement Project’ is based in our backyard, but businesses from around the state have connections to the economic artery of our state and the west coast. They stand to benefit from their products moving via freight through our neighborhood efficiently. These large economic interests have made themselves clear to state legislators that approved funding for this project in 2017. 

The future is unknown. With elections approaching for Mayor, City Council and Metro positions, the partnership ODOT needs from other government agencies could potentially look very different this time next year. The only thing that seems certain is it is a long road ahead.

Websites to check out before the Eliot Neighborhood Association Meeting on 4/20/20

Here are two websites and links to previous articles in the Eliot News and on OPB for you to read before the discussion at the Eliot Neighborhood Association General Assembly Meeting

Let’s get educated and join the fight for cleaner air!

Neighbors for Clean Air—www.whatsinourair.org

Portland Clean Air—www.portlandcleanair.org

What You Need to Know About Diesel Particulates and Air Filters—

https://eliotneighborhood.org/2020/03/10/what-you-need-to-know-about-diesel-particulates-and-air-filters/

Portland Neighbors Addressing Diesel Pollution—

https://eliotneighborhood.org/2018/10/26/portland-neighbors-addressing-diesel-pollution/

OPB Here’s How Portland Can Reduce Diesel Pollution: Report

https://www.opb.org/news/article/diesel-pollution-portland-reduce-lewis-clark/

What You Need to Know About Diesel Particulates and Air Filters

Diesel particulates are a problem in the Eliot neighborhood. There are several organizations, both inside and outside of the neighborhood working to change legislation and business practices, including the Eliot Neighborhood Association’s eACT group and Portland Clean Air. While activists are working to limit pollution in the future, we need to reduce the impact of diesel particulates we currently face to the greatest extent possible. Because Portland Public Schools commissioned research into the air quality at Harriet Tubman, we have data on what sort of changes can make a difference in the air we breathe here in Eliot, especially indoors. Harriet Tubman Middle School relies on an $18 million air filtration system. Most Eliot neighbors aren’t in a position to spend millions of dollars on air filtration systems, but there are air filtering options available at a variety of price points.

Adding an additional filter or two to your home can make sense, but there are several factors to consider. Not all air filtration systems are capable of catching diesel particulates. Air filters are graded the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) scale, which runs from 1 to 20. MERV ratings are based on the size of the particles that can pass through the filter, with a filter with a rating of 1 stopping relatively large particles like pollen or spray paint dust and a filter with a rating of 20 stopping viruses and smoke particles. Filters rated MERV 16 or higher are typically needed to stop diesel particulates. MERV-rated filters may also be HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. HEPA filters must pass a test on their ability to stop particles the size of bacteria and paint pigments, corresponding roughly to a MERV rating of 16. That’s also about the size of the diesel particulates we’re trying to stop.

If you have an existing HVAC or furnace system with a built-in filter, make sure you replace filters regularly, as well as clean any prefilter system. They’ll help improve air quality, although they may not be entirely effective on diesel particulates. Many residential systems aren’t equipped to use filters with a MERV above 10, though some homeowners choose to use filters with higher MERV ratings with minimal issues.

Consider adding a portable air filter to your space. The most effective air filters, like the Coway AP1512HH Mighty and the Austin Air HealthMate HM400, range from $125 to $600. There are options at every price point, however: you can even build your own air filter with a box fan and two replacement filters. Popular Mechanics provides a tutorial at https://bit.ly/2Ldtmt1.

Limiting time spent outdoors can be helpful, especially for folks closer to the interstate. For those with health concerns, using a respirator mask (look for an N95 or a P2 rating) will limit exposure to diesel particulates while outside. Increasing the greenery within Eliot is one of the most effective options we have. In the PSU study on Harriet Tubman’s air quality, researchers recommended increasing vegetation around the school by 50 percent. (The full report is available as a PDF at https://bit.ly/2Y6gBG8.) A similar increase throughout the neighborhood could help reduce diesel particulates somewhat.

Plants can help mitigate pollution in the air, without the replacement costs that go along with filters. Trees are particularly helpful — and organizations like Friends of Trees make the process of planting trees simple. Certain plants are especially effective at filtering air indoors: during a NASA study on which plants filtered air most effectively, these plants removed the most particulates from the air.

English ivy (Hedera helix)
Green Spider plant (Chlorophytum elatum)
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Variegated snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)
Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’)
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Aloe vera (Aloe vera)
Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”)
Warneckei (Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei”)
Banana (Musa oriana)

Consider adding a few of these plants to your home — NASA suggests adding one plant per 100 square feet.

We may not be able to stop diesel particulates overnight, but we can lessen the impact they have on our community.

Letter from the Chair: Co-Chairs That Work Together

Our co-chairs Allan Rudwick and Jimmy Wilson recently sat down for a discussion about priorities for the coming year. We came away with a few things. Firstly, we are committed to being co-chairs because we want to work together. Working together means taking the shared experiences of our lives and using them to guide where we are going.

Co-chair Jimmy Wilson expressed a vision to help the homeless community. “As a city, we have been in a ‘housing emergency’ for 5 or so years and we don’t have much to show for it.” It was further discussed what it would mean for the Eliot NA to do something about it.

Co-Chair Allan Rudwick expressed concern about the desire to see vacant land in the neighborhood turned into useful places for people to thrive. This means a bunch of different pieces, working with the city and landholders to actually motivate building on vacant land. Some of that is just
reaching out to landowners, some of it is working with the city.

In addition, Co-Chair Allan Rudwick’s desire is to see something done about Diesel pollution. “We have a problem in Portland and in Eliot in particular with the number of unfiltered Diesel trucks rolling down I-5 in particular and other streets in the area. This is leading us to breathe more Diesel Particulate (aka Black Carbon) than other neighborhoods farther away from major truck routes. There are some solutions that seem obvious like requiring filters on trucks.” Cochair Jimmy Wilson mentioned that the problem of diesel particulates has been an issue for a long time and people have complained heavily in the past to no avail. This new effort may have legs but it should recognize those that came before and tried.

It is the sentiment of the co-chairs that “we are second to the community. We aren’t attending meetings just for fun, we’re doing it to try to make this a better place. Whether it is picking up trash, feeding people, or keeping a space for local residents to get help with their issues, we want the people of the neighbor to know that the Eliot NA Board is here for them. “We are trying to support the strong citizens in the neighborhood. Sometimes that is advice on how to get in touch with the city, sometimes it is financial grants but always it comes from a place of respect and understanding that everyone is trying their best.”

Further, we are out here trying to make the world better for the next generations.

Our time is now, but if we can’t clean up pollution and build a great place, what are we leaving for the young people? There is no personal glory in this job, but there is satisfaction with helping people make a difference.

Albina Rail Yard Relocation

By Monique Gaskins

If any city’s residents stick around for a while, they are likely to witness some sort of transformation. During Portland’s history, the city’s boundaries have physically changed, absorbing neighboring cities, like Albina, into the fold. Portland’s demographics and key industries have also shifted over the years. In previous versions of Portland, residents realized that some forms of transportation were better suited for the growing city than others and invested in transforming to new transport modes. Vestiges of these changes remain visible; some houses in Eliot have horse tethering rings anchored to the curb, evidence of the early 1900s, when deliveries were made with horse and wagon instead of by truck.

Mo Badreddine, a Portland-area local from birth and the driving force behind the Albina Rail Yard Relocation Project, hopes that Portlanders are at the cusp of another change. Badreddine is encouraging communities to ask Union Pacific to relocate its railroad infrastructure out of the center of the city. Badreddine believes that a new location for the railroad will benefit Union Pacific and Portlanders through improved operational efficiency, decreased traffic interference, and lower pollution. In addition, if Union Pacific were to relocate from Albina, they would vacate 215 acres of riverfront property. With development funds and community input, the former rail yard could be reimagined as mix of housing, shopping, parks, and public spaces contributing to Portland’s overall attractiveness and livability.

With increasing pressures on air quality from projects such as the Oregon Department of Transportation’s proposed Interstate 5 expansion and high traffic through the Central Eastside, any project looking to decrease pollution is worth exploration. Along with cleaner air, relocating the railroad infrastructure would improve access to other parts of Portland, and provide an economic boost through new shops, restaurants, and jobs. With this in mind, below you will find an interview with Mo Badreddine on the importance of the relocation project and how you can help.

What are your goals for the Albina Rail Relocation Project? Ultimately, our goal is to create a new path for Union Pacific that will increase the railroad’s operational efficiency, alleviate operational, safety, and environmental concerns for the public, while also retaining the economic benefits of UP’s railroad service to our community. In addition to that, I think we can redevelop the site(s) into a more communal and meaningful space where, housing, transit, art, health, science, and wildlife all coexist.

How did you get involved with the project? My curiosity and passion for large-scale infill redevelopment stumbled me into Homer [Williams]’s office many-a-years ago, and like many, I’m a product of my environment. Homer’s efforts are focused on getting people off the streets with his non-profit, Oregon Harbor of Hope, so Portland is incalculably lucky to have him. (oregonharborofhope.org)

What do you want Eliot neighborhood residents to know about the project? Probably the same thing we’ve been telling everyone: we’re not crazy. Rail relocation is not a new solution — rather, it is one that has proven to be effective and necessary given the right conditions. It is happening all throughout the United States, in big and small markets alike: Memphis, Burlington, Boston, Nashville, San Gabriel, Lafayette (IN), Reno, Chicago, LA, and Salt Lake City, are among the cities that are planning or have taken steps to move their rail facilities from urban core to outlying areas. I encourage you to think big, to think as big as you possibly can because this is a generational opportunity for every individual, motorist, cyclist and organization, living near or commuting through the CEIC (Central Eastside Industrial District).

What’s the status of funding for the study? We’re a little more than $5,000 short (of reaching our $25,000 goal), which is incredible. When we raise the remaining amount, the community will be able to say that this is a community funded & driven effort and ultimately, get to be a stakeholder throughout the decision-making process.

What can individual residents do to get involved with the project? Every dollar helps. With your assistance, we can let the creative engineers explore the possibilities of moving the Albina & Brooklyn intermodal facilities. Donations are being accepted online at https://
http://www.albinarailrelocation.org/

Letter from the Chair: Call to Action

As we return from summer vacations or hanging out in the park, beach or backyard, to the routines of our lives and responsibilities, I want to focus on the appalling condition of the air we breathe here in Portland, and more specifically in Eliot.

You’ll read in Greg Bouchet’s article, on the cover page of this issue, that Eliot is in the bullseye of diesel pollution. We breathe air with significantly higher concentrations of diesel particulates than 99% of other communities in America. Not a good statistic and very bad for our health. In fact, this is potentially life-threatening. “Diesel exhaust is 100 times more toxic than gasoline engine exhaust,” according to a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. “Diesel exhaust is 80%-95% ultra-fine particles of carbon ‘soot’ with cancer-causing chemical riders that evade our natural defenses, reach the lungs, pass into the blood-stream, and circulate to our vital organs including the heart and brain.”

This past August, Oregon’s Legislature passed HB 2007 to limit the diesel particulates emitted from diesel engines, but not until 2029. Do we want to continue to breathe this bad air for another 10 years, while the polluters figure out how to comply? Or more realistically, until the economic impact is lessened by the attrition of dirty diesel trucks and construction engines?

The Volkswagen settlement money ($50,000,000) and the money from the Legislature (also millions of dollars) are available to businesses NOW for filtering these dirty engines. Why can’t the cleanup begin NOW?

Eliot Neighborhood Association is joining local neighborhood and advocacy group efforts to take action. For this effort, we need committed people of any skill level. We are looking for residents or anyone working in Eliot. Our Board needs you to help us form a strong, inclusive, passionate team to advocate for stronger, sooner regulations. Also we need to help local businesses gain access to the $50,000,000 ODOT, which is available for small under-represented trucking owners. Eliot Neighborhood Association has created a new committee, eACT, Eliot Advocacy for Clean-air Team. If you want to join us contact me at chair@eliotneighborhood.org

Eliot Neighborhood Association’s Eliot Advocacy for Clean Air Team, eACT, needs YOU!

The Eliot Neighborhood Association general meeting on October 21 will host Portland Clean Air. Come hear more about this problem, weigh in with your thoughts and find out how you can help make the air we breathe cleaner and less dangerous.

Also, at the October meeting, we will hold the annual elections of board members for the 2020 term. We hope to see you there and that you consider signing up to help with eACT or becoming a board member or simply get involved with other neighborhood association activities and events.

Support Portland Clean Air and Breathe Easier in the Future

By Greg Bourget

Diesel particulate is the worst airborne carcinogen according to State of California risk assessments. In Portland it comes primarily from industrial unfiltered trucks making in-city deliveries. Currently Portland is ranked in the worst 1.3% of counties in the nation for airborne diesel particulate according to the most recent EPA three-year assessment. Airborne diesel particulate affects the Eliot Neighborhood more than most Portland neighborhoods. California banned unfiltered diesel trucks statewide and by 2015 there were virtually none left. Diesel particulate filters remove 90% of diesel particulate emissions. In contrast, three-quarters of the trucks in the three-county Portland area have no filter according to ODOT and DMV records. The in-city stretch of I5, including the part that runs through Eliot neighborhood, has the 24-hour highest truck counts in Portland according to ODOT monitoring studies.

DEQ reported diesel-powered vehicles are only 6% of Oregon vehicles on the road yet emit 60 – 70% of all particulate emissions from all on-road vehicles combined. The State of California reported that currently diesel particulate is still “responsible for about 70% of California’s estimated known cancer risk attributable to toxic air contaminants.” DEQ reported in 2015 that diesel exhaust causes lung and bladder cancer, certain heart attacks and other blood clotting diseases, coronary artery disease, malignant childhood brain tumors, decreased cognitive functioning, increased incidence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), acute bronchitis, and asthma. A study by Bishop et al. found diesel particulate causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Immediate symptoms include eye and throat irritation, coughing and phlegm, swollen airway, bronchial irritation, nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Portland Clean Air believes negotiation with unfiltered trucking companies is the solution. The Oregon diesel bill HB 2007 which passed June 30, 2019, was gutted by industry. It allows a ten-year phase-out. California did a seven-year phase-out starting nine years ago! Numerous loopholes allow trucking companies to avoid even that deadline. The Oregon legislature accepts unlimited corporate campaign donations. This is illegal in 45 states. Since we can’t count on the Oregon Legislature, neighbors have been directly negotiating with industrial polluters instead. Since the
Bullseye scandal, eight Portland area industries have installed a smokestack scrubber at a cost of $70 K to $20 M due solely to
negotiations with neighbors.

Judging by model year, XPO Logistics has 8,604 unfiltered trucks – by far the largest unfiltered truck fleet in the Portland area. XPO Logistics, Consolidated Freightways, and USF Reddaway combined have 12,036 unfiltered trucks – more than TriMet and the next largest 24 unfiltered Portland area fleets combined. As the state of Oregon barely regulates them, I think they require a response from us, their neighbors.

Portland Clean Air is working with 41 Portland Neighborhood Association boards, the North East Coalition of Neighborhoods, and 24 Portland-area churches and synagogues to address this airborne diesel particulate through negotiation with unfiltered industrial truck fleets. We are also looking at companies who contract with these unfiltered fleets.

Portland Clean Air appreciates the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) who has taken a leadership role to address this with us. ENA has formed a committee to take action. If you have questions about how you can help with this committee, or about monitoring, home air filters, or any other questions, please contact me at greg@portlandcleanair.org or for more information go to portlandcleanair.org/ diesel.

Come hear a presentation by Portland Clean Air at the Eliot
Neighborhood Association general assembly meeting on Monday, October 21 at 6:30pm at St Philip the Deacon Church, 120 NE Knott St (the corner of Knott and Rodney).

Letter from the Chair – A Call to Action

Hello Neighbors,

Eliot is in the bullseye of diesel particulate pollution. This is due partly to our proximity to I-5 and I-84, but also to MLK, which is a truck route, and the N Williams/N Vancouver corridor. All these roads carry dirty diesel trucks every day. Oregon allows unfiltered diesel trucks on our roads. This is dangerous for us because the National Institute of Health says “the health effects of diesel exhaust emissions… acute effects of diesel exhaust exposure include irritation of the nose and eyes, lung function changes, respiratory changes, headache, fatigue, and nausea. Chronic exposures are associated with cough, sputum production, and lung function decrements.” And… “Continuous exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause long term, or chronic, respiratory ill health with symptoms including coughing and feeling breathless. At worst, if people are exposed to diesel engine exhaust fumes regularly and over a long period, there is an increased risk of getting lung cancer.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11401072/

Since Eliot has LONG been affected by diesel AND has tried several times to get legislation or regulation on pollution, long term neighbors wonder what’s different this time.

Well, a few factors have changed. The Oregon Legislature is finally taking up this issue this term. Our neighbors to the east have all converged to focus the legislature’s attention because of new data from the lichen study, PSU scientists, the ODOT I-5 expansion proposal, the Willamette Superfund recent movement toward resolution, the Volkswagen settlement and, yes, opening of Harriett Tubman Middle School. See HB 2007 “The Diesel Bill”.  

(https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1dBPerjxQcmUHVpZXk1UXFUemsycEFnV3dIZmMwcEpob0dR)

The Eliot Neighborhood Association is joining local neighborhood and advocacy group efforts to take action. For this effort, we need committed people of any skill level. We are looking for residents or anyone working in Eliot.  Our Board needs you to help us form a strong, inclusive, passionate team to advocate for stronger, sooner regulations, and also to help local businesses gain access to the $50,000,000 ODOT funds, which are available for small under-represented trucking owners. ENA has created a new committee, eACT, Eliot Advocacy for Clean-air Team. This Team will meet the 2nd or 3rd week of July. If you want to join us contact me at chair at eliotneighborhood dot org

See Environmental Advocacy for Clean-Air Team: Eliot eACT. 

Please Celebrate Clean Air Work With Us

Please Celebrate Clean Air Work With Us!
Thursday, April 4th, 6 to 9pm, Lagunitas Taproom, 237 NE Broadway

Raise your glass, raise your voice, raise money, for clean air. Join Neighbors for Clean Air to learn more about our work to clear the
air in Oregon and how you can get involved.

Event space and beer fueled by Lagunitas Brewing Company, featuring music by Asheigh Flynn.

For tickets and more information: Liz Hartge with Neighbors for Clean Air

LUTC Meeting Minutes 2019-03-11

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
$500 m
4 major platforms
Air quality
Induced demand
Environmental Justice
Worst census tract for air quality
Climate change

Driving is too energy intensive
Invest in transit
40% emissions in Oregon for transportation
We need to drive less
Safety
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)

Portland Neighbors Addressing Diesel Pollution

The stretch of I5 interstate highway running through the Eliot Neighborhood was measured by ODOT using a rubber strip sensor to be among the busiest truck routes in Oregon. This is due to in-city short-haul trucks that pace back and forth through Eliot making Portland freight deliveries. Our research into ODOT and DMV data found 75% of these in-city short-haul trucks are unfiltered. Unfiltered trucks are illegal to manufacture and are banned from all of California because they produce ten times as much diesel particulate as a filtered truck.

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Air Pollution Report from NECN

Diesel Particulate Map
Diesel Particulate Map

Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN) has put together an Air Toxics Report.  Please follow the link below for the North/Northeast Portland’s Air Pollution Report. You will find a map and narrative with facts about industrial facilities and diesel truck pollution. Learn what we can do to improve air quality!

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Uroboros Air Quality Assessment

Air quality issues hit home in Eliot through the news in early February, through a shocking revelation that Uroboros Glass, located on Kirby Ave, was burning cadmium and had been for years to make art glass in Eliot. The irony of the matter was that it was moss in the nearby trees that had helped Forest Service researchers find the Uroboros site’s pollution, not the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). That agency soon revealed that cadmium burning, now indicated in two glass factories including Bullseye in SE, have a monthly average of 49 times the state’s established air safety benchmark level for cadmium and 159 times the safe level for arsenic. Cadmium and arsenic are both known carcinogens connected to serious health effects.

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