Letters: Rose Quarter 'fix' won't improve safety
Safety is supposedly the overwhelming first priority of transportation officials and politicians. We're discussing the most unsafe site to drive in Oregon. The 2-mile, two-lane section of Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter has three times the accident rate of the Terwilliger Curves.
ODOT says it's also the region's No. 1 bottleneck.
Yet half the transportation money proposed for the I-5 Rose Quarter project has absolutely nothing to do with improving safety. It has nothing to do with adding new through lanes to reduce traffic congestion; nothing to do with adding shoulders for safety.
After spending a half-billion taxpayer transportation dollars, the Rose Quarter will still have the highest accident rate in Oregon. That's an outrage.
Let's do some math. Rose Quarter accidents are 300 percent of the Terwilliger Curves. ODOT "experts" hope the improvements will provide a 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in crashes.
Even if they achieve the 50 percent reduction, the Rose Quarter will still have 150 percent of the crashes and accidents of the Terwilliger Curves.
Why spend scarce taxpayer dollars if you're not going to fix the safety problem? Clearly, safety isn't ODOT's top priority here.
Dan Saltzman bragged about this project being "community redevelopment." It's creating real estate by building two concrete lids over I-5. The lids and a bike-pedestrian bridge will consume half the money.
Out of the 10 items listed on ODOT's website describing the Rose Quarter project, only three relate to improvements on I-5 for traffic and vehicle safety. That demonstrates this is not about improving traffic safety and reducing vehicle congestion. It makes Saltzman's point — it's "community redevelopment."
Transportation dollars are supposed to be "protected," not for community redevelopment. Taxpayers should demand a more appropriate fix. It's a safety issue.
ODOT also reports this is the No. 1 bottleneck in Oregon. Why aren't new through lanes being added to Interstate 5?
While the auxiliary lane extensions will reduce accidents and slightly improve traffic speeds, it won't be as effective as adding new through lanes to I-5. ODOT reports: "the auxiliary lanes will not provide long-term capacity relief to congestion problems."
Furthermore, ODOT says: "In the NB direction, between the Marquam Bridge and the Interstate Bridge, there are four recurring bottlenecks … from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m." Will any of those four northbound bottlenecks be eliminated after spending a half-billion dollars?
In the southbound direction, ODOT reports: "the most significant recurring bottleneck is at the Rose Quarter (Broadway) with congestion extending back to Rosa Parks Way." There are nine hours of congestion, which poses significant problems for freight.
Question: After spending $500 million on the proposed improvements, will the Rose Quarter section of I-5 no longer be the "No. 1 bottleneck in Oregon"? Unless the answer is "yes," this project is a huge waste of taxpayer transportation dollars.
Stop this wasteful spending of scarce transportation dollars until a proper expansion of through lanes on I-5 at the Rose Quarter can be agreed upon and the safety problems truly fixed.
Climate plan makes Oregon a leader again
I am back in Oregon after a 23-year absence and surprised that Oregon is not the environmental powerhouse that I remember.
But that could change if the state passes and implements the Clean Energy Jobs bill, House Bill 2020, also known as the Oregon Climate Action Program.
HB 2020 would establish a statewide cap-and-invest program with the goal of cutting emissions 45 percent by 2035. Funds from the program would be invested in local clean energy jobs.
If this bill passes, "Oregon would join California and Quebec in setting limits on carbon pollution across all sectors of the state economy," to quote from the letter signed by 70 scientists/researchers and published March 3 in The Oregonian.
Oregon would be an international trend-setter.
Encourage your state legislators to vote "yes" for HB 2020. I am sure you don't want more heat waves, wildfires, fisheries losses and all the other climate change impacts that are becoming more common in our beautiful state. With HB 2020, Oregon can be a leader and role model, and we can all breathe easier.
Teachers, schools deserve our support
As a product of Lane County public schools, I feel fortunate to have received an incredible education. I look back at my years at South Eugene High and recall many interactions with my teachers that inspired me to become an educator today. Our graduating class of 2008 benefited from manageable class sizes, dedicated teachers and ample resources.
Fast forward to today, my sixth year in teaching, and we, a theoretically progressive state, are not supporting education at a basic level. My class sizes all exceed 30 and grow throughout the year. Our teacher-development days and our access to resources recently were cut for the current school year due to an $8 million shortfall.
More concerning, we face an impending $35 million cut here in the Beaverton School District, with similar measures taking place statewide.
The kids feel it. They hear the whispers that teachers they look forward to having won't be back. They feel the impact when tenured teachers are assigned to subjects they have never taught. Kids who need that little extra push feel it when they are battling 35 other hands for the teacher's help.
Many schools in the state will be cutting multiple teachers, adding to class sizes and increasing the workloads of those lucky enough to stay. For those of us who have not been around as long — including me, just one year away from gaining probationary status — it means leaving a meaningful profession that I have come to love and finding work elsewhere.
Please write, call and email your representatives and let them know that you support greater spending for education.