Oregon Youth Activists Protest Highway Expansion

A group of young climate activists are demanding an end to traffic-inducing road expansion projects and a renewed commitment to sustainable, transit-oriented transportation.

Read Time: 2 minutes

January 27, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


I-84 to I-5 Interstate Freeway in Portland Oregon with Long Exposure Vehicle Traffic Motion

JPL Designs / Shutterstock

On the heels of a historic heat wave that devastated the Northwest, a group of Portland teenagers is protesting the Oregon DOT's plan to widen highways in the state, reports Laura Bliss. The protesters, who call their group Youth Vs. ODOT, are calling on the state to end freeway widening projects that contribute to increased congestion and carbon emissions. 

Their demands might be having an effect, writes Bliss. "On Jan 18, the Federal Highway Administration rescinded a key approval of the controversial highway widening that’s been a prime target of the young protesters, the Rose Quarter Improvement Project along Portland’s Interstate 5," and requested a new environmental study.

As state transportation departments prepare to receive billions in federal funding, transportation advocates hope that sustainability will remain a top priority and that states will invest in public transit, bike lanes, and pedestrian infrastructure. But a slew of expansion projects planned around the country indicate these goals may not materialize.

The young Portland activists say by going forward with road projects, the city isn't living up to its progressive, bike-loving image. They call for increased investment in public transit, which would benefit more residents and help suburban dwellers reach the city more easily and efficiently. They want to see a change in the auto-oriented culture of Portland and, more broadly, the United States, which has enabled and subsidized car-dependent lifestyles. Even switching to electric vehicles, experts say, won't be enough to keep global warming from reaching catastrophic levels. Beyond stopping road expansion projects, Youth Vs. ODOT hopes to force even more drastic changes in how their state funds and prioritizes transportation projects.

Saturday, January 22, 2022 in Bloomberg CityLab

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee