2024 KCP Application
No More Freeways
Primary Project Category:
Project Summary / Description:
No More Freeways is a local organization intending to start a national revolution stopping the continued publicly-funded expansion of America‚ most prominent fossil-fuel infrastructure: freeways. We founded in 2017 to oppose the proposed Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion, which received funding from the Oregon Legislature that summer. We have steadfastly argued that the project warranted a full Environmental Impact Statement that studied alternatives to adding additional lanes of freeway; academic research and ODOT‚ own studies report widening freeways onlys exacerbates traffic congestion, creates additional air pollution, and increases carbon emissions at a time when 40% of Oregon‚ emissions come from transportation. We collaborate with local environmental and transportation advocates to coordinate litigation, communications, and grassroots organizing to call attention to the need to stop this project. With support we can scale up not only to fight freeways around the region but to coordinate with the emerging network of freeway fighters nationally.
How Project Affects Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions:
Replaces/avoids GHGs (e.g., projects that replace sources of GHGs, such as the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, transport, or other energy uses), Reduces GHGs (e.g., projects that reduce sources of GHGs, such as through efficiency or other changes in consumption)The academic literature over the past fifty years of urban planning is in universal alignment: adding additional road capacity merely encourages more people to drive, creating a feedback loop commonly known as induced demand. Even under the rosiest assumptions about vehicle electrification, increased driving leads to increased carbon emissions, especially in comparison to investments in mass transit and policies like congestion pricing that discourage driving at peak traffic.By stopping the proposed expansion and forcing the state to consider alternatives to freeway widening, we stop the expansion of infrastructure that explicitly contributes to increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which explicitly contributes towards increased carbon pollution.We are confident that successfully killing off this proposal will have a chilling impact on numerous proposed road projects around the state and country, and help expedite an urgently needed national paradigm shift to invest more into transit and road safety infrastructure instead of road expansion. No More Freeways is one of dozens of efforts across the nation to oppose plans for expanding highway capacity in the nation's urban areas. This is particularly timely because the IIJA provides states with hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding, which can either be used for projects that reduce drivings and emissions by creating more alternatives to car travel, or which can be used to expand highway capacity, which will generate additional travel, and additional greenhouse gas emissions. Georgetown University warned that state discretion to use IIJA funding could lead to more highway widening, more driving, and increase greenhouse gas emissions:". . . if investments instead flow mostly to adding more lanes and building more roads, the IIJA funding could result in an increase in emissions over what we‚ d expect without this additional investment. That‚ because building more roads consistently results in more traffic ‚Äî an if you build it, they will come effect known as induced demand. In short, traffic expands to fill the new lanes within a few short years, bringing with it more pollution."In contrast, the Georgetown study concluded that if states can be persuaded to refrain from increasing road capacity, instead adopting a "fix it first" policy, and investing in transportation that reduces driving and emissions, we could use this same funding to produce measureable progress in greenhouse gas reduction.." . . the low-emission scenario . . could cut emissions by 1.6% below the baseline within just 5 years. This may not sound like much, but it‚ roughly equivalent to the annual emissions from 4.5 million passenger vehicles."In short? These massively expensive and polluting boondoggle projects are actually quite vulnerable, and demonstrating success defeating local freeway projects provides support for increased national support to retiring the freeway industrial complex and instead invest in green transportation infrastructure.
Impact on Underrepresented Groups:
No More Freeways has worked closely with youth climate leaders organizing with the Portland Oregon hub of the Sunrise Movement, empowering teenage climate activists to speak at relevant public hearings and organize public protests in opposition to the expansion of freeways, under the banner that climate leaders don‚ t widen freeways. Sunrise launched the biweekly Youth Vs ODOT protests, holding strikes outside ODOT‚ offices for over a year. These events were attended by over a dozen elected officials and garnered national media attention. Many of the youth involved with the opposition attended Harriet Tubman Middle School, the school in which ODOT proposes to widen the freeway even closer to the campus. Research shows the school already has some of the worst air pollution in the state. Our collaboration with Sunrise inspired increased scrutiny of freeway projects from youth activist organizations nationwide. We also closely partner with Albina Vision Trust, an organization working to restore the Albina neighborhood decimated by freeway expansion and urban renewal in the 1960s. Albina was previously the largest Black neighborhood in the state of Oregon, and the Black-led entity is lobbying to build freeway caps over the existing structure to support new housing, retail and office space. We are strategically collaborating with them to demand a halt to the expansion to stop additional noise and air pollution, as well as to reclaim urban space and political autonomy for the organization. NMF understands that climate action both morally and strategically must uplift these and other underrepresented voices.
Research or Economic Modeling
Measurement, Reporting & Validation
No More Freeways is fiscally sponsored by Portland Transport, a nonprofit organization. Our organization‚ primarily focused on stopping ODOT‚ proposed $1.4 Billion Rose Quarter Freeway Expansion in the backyard of North Portland‚ Harriet Tubman Middle School, but we have engaged in numerous efforts at local, regional, statewide and national levels of government to oppose freeway expansions in Oregon and, more broadly, support investments in transit and active transportation as alternatives to continued funding for roads and highways. We have also increased our collaboration with the national Freeway Fighters network hosted by America Walks and Transportation for America, in which we collaborate with freeway opposition efforts across the country to share tactics and strategies for building local power for freeway opposition. We strongly believe that a handful of prominent successful freeway revolt campaigns will have national reverberations and help permanently stop freeway expansions and instead encourage massive transit investments.
Greatest Current Funding Need: