Over the last three years, Metro has been working on a transportation plan that will set the strategy for the next 25 years of transportation needs in the Portland Metro Area. Metro’s plan identifies current and future transportation needs, including motor vehicles, public transit, walking and bike paths.
One of the last stages before the adoption of the 2018 Regional Transportation Plan can occur is to hold a public hearing. During the first public hearing the main topic of discussion was on whether or not to expand Portland’s roadways, specifically the area of freeway between Interstate 84 and 405. This area is well known for its hours of daily congestion and high crash rate.
However, many Portlanders are wondering if widening the road and adding one more lane will fix the problem? Many citizens say it won’t.
Some say adding a new lane would just induce more traffic, which in return would increase carbon emissions and air pollution in the area. A recent air quality study done at the nearby Harriet Tubman Middle School was found to already have high levels of toxic chemicals due to traffic. Officials have subsequently moved to limit students’ outside time during the school day. Adding another lane, some contend, will only make this situation worse.
So, what are the alternatives? Citizen Ron Swaren presented his idea for a Western Arterial Highway.
“Without additional capacity… downtown Portland will really be a parking lot,” Swaren said.
Others say we need to think about alternative modes of transportation for future growth and not just single occupancy vehicles.
Whatever the answer or answers may be, there are a lot of opinions being expressed. One thing it seems that all Portlanders can agree on, the current traffic situation is not working.
What are your thoughts on expanding Portland’s freeways? Good idea? Terrible idea? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.