Testimony to Metro Council: Don’t Widen I-5

My name is Lynn Handlin, I live in Happy Valley.

I am here to ask you to oppose spending money on widening freeways, specifically the Interstate Bridge Replacement, which is currently really the I-5 freeway expansion project. We just heard that the people working on this project do not seem to be seriously considering a version that does not expand the freeway. This project as proposed will add lanes to the freeway, which is supposed to reduce congestion. There are many things wrong with this thinking: many studies over the last 50 years have clearly shown that adding lanes does not reduce congestion over time due to induced demand, as Paul [another person who testified in song form – Ed.] so beautifully sang.

Adding lanes will end up adding vehicle miles driven, increasing pollution and harming the surrounding neighborhoods. This is an equity issue, low income and BIPOC communities are most impacted by the increased pollution that will result. This moves us in the wrong direction.

And adding lanes will add to the climate crisis. Is 116 degrees not enough? Are massive wildfires, droughts, floods, killer heat waves, not enough to wake us all up? Now is the time to take real action on climate change, and widening freeways is the opposite of that.

It has been stated here that the people planning this project are listening to lots of partners including governments, transit agencies, including ODOT, also known as the department of highways, but what about climate justice groups? Which climate justice groups are they working with? I heard here today that they are “on top of” climate issues, but how?

We need better and faster mass transit, better pedestrian and bike options, not wider freeways. Congestion pricing can help with the congestion problem, and it is cost effective.

I care about all of our children’s futures. I fully support the kids who are leading this charge, many can’t be here today because they are in school, middle school and high school. They are fighting for their lives. We should not sacrifice their futures for a temporary small reduction in commute time for some people. The funds should be spent on public mass transit not expanding freeways fueling climate chaos and destruction.

While most of you will likely not live to experience the worst impacts of a bad decision here today, the children who are fighting this will.

I know you all care about our children’s futures, and you understand the existential threat of climate change so listen to the children’s voices, they know what they are talking about, and do the right thing, vote no on this freeway expanding proposal.


About Lynn Spitaleri Handlin

Organizing member of Extinction rebellion pdx, founding member of Cascadia Magical Activists, loves doing habitat restoration for fun.


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