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Widening Portland's Freeways

The state of Oregon is looking to use a gas tax increase to, among other things, fund a billion-dollars worth of highway-widening projects.
April 27, 2017, 7am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Willamette River
The Oregon Department of Transportation and the city of Portland would like to widen a stretch of I-5 just north of the Steel Bridge pictured here.
Josemaria Toscano

Oregon's infrastructure is in need of maintenance. "The plan is to raise gas taxes and other fees partly to shore up the state’s multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog, but prominently to build three big freeway widening projects in the Portland metropolitan area," Joe Cortright writes in City Observatory. This move was announced despite reports that found the state is falling short of its carbon emission reduction goals.

Cortright points out that Portland is famous for cancelling freeway projects and tearing freeways down. But the city, which has experienced its share of loses this week, may be losing some of its active transit credibility. Some argue that the freeway expansion represents a compromise, and would make a light rail project more palatable to voters, but Cortright argues that expanding capacity will only create demand and increase vehicle emissions.  

For more detail on the proposed freeway widening projects, see an article by Jonathan Maus.

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Published on Thursday, April 20, 2017 in City Observatory
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