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Portland Prepares for the Freeway Fight of the Century

A grass-capped highway expansion in a gentrifying neighborhood? Sounds familiar.
Even with a bike path on it, the I-5 will still be an interstate.
Even with a bike path on it, the I-5 will still be an interstate.Don Ryan/AP Photo

No two transportation projects are identical. But an investment in freeway infrastructure is, at the end of the day, an investment in freeway infrastructure—even if there’s a patch of grass on top.

Which means that Oregon has joined the growing list of states pushing highway expansion projects on rather disingenuous grounds. On Sunday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler joined Oregon Public Broadcasting to voice his enthusiastic support for the I-5 Rose Quarter Project, a $450 million proposal to widen the freeway through the historically black neighborhood known as Albina. The project got a funding boost from the state’s newly passed transportation bill. (The same one that inexplicably taxed bikes.)