Jonathan Maus: Post-pandemic traffic is weighing on me (BikePortland)
Could we have been more ambitious with temporary, pop-up road diets and bike lane networks? Did we miss a perfect political moment to fundamentally alter peoples’ perceptions of street potential? Did we fight off one virus, only to allow another — the congestion and catastrophic climate and community-destroying consequences of car abuse — to re-infect us?
Laura Bliss: The Freeway Fight of the Century Is Coming to Portland (CityLab)
Widening highways is bad for property values in the short term—indeed, the construction of I-5 through Portland in the 1960s kicked out homeowners, depressed home values, and helped set the neighborhood up for decades of disinvestment. Over the longer term, however, there’s evidence that highway caps, just like any other “adaptive reuse” project (think: High Line), can and do help property values rise. In the absence of intentional policies to preserve affordable housing and opportunity—something that Portland has long failed to offer, though that may be slowly changing—there’s really nothing to guarantee that the “restoration” of Albina’s grid will serve the people who have lived there, and suffered the disconnecting presence of I-5, the longest. And that’s on top of the environmental harm that more lanes and more cars are likely to bring.
If Portland wants to reconnect neighborhood grids and provide transit and biking infrastructure, why not just do that? Rather than pour half a billion dollars (a cost that is all but sure to rise) into what is, at the end of the day, a wider freeway, the city and state might first try taming traffic with tolls or congestion fees, as New York City is again contemplating. That’s a solution that might help Portland live up to its ultra-progressive reputation. Finally.