After sitting in traffic for over an hour on my way back to Portland from my job substitute teaching in Hillsboro, I’m almost tempted to believe that the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) plan to invest $450 million in a 1.8 mile lane highway expansion sounds like a good idea. Luckily, I spent the day teaching students about the importance of research and data and how our notions of what is “common sense” are not always rooted in reality.
Highway expansion, it turns out, is one of those instances. More lanes, it seems, should ease the flow of traffic. In reality, however, highway expansion has never improved traffic conditions - what we see every time, instead, is an influx of vehicles on the road, all stuck in the same mind-numbing, infuriating gridlock.
With 40 percent of Portland’s carbon emissions flowing from transportation, fueling an increase that has been proven ineffective to remedy traffic woes in the midst of a full blow climate crisis seems like a monumentally bad idea. ODOT should be investing in ramping up public transportation and other green infrastructure - this is Portland, not L.A. Head over to nomorefreewayspdx.com before April 1 to leave a public comment and tell ODOT to oppose the Rose Quarter highway expansion and invest the money where it’s needed.