Portland, Oregon: Officials Say a New Highway Expansion Will Be Better for the Environment

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and accounts for half of the total increase in U.S. emissions since 1990. So you would think that progressive cities and states, with leaders nominally committed to reducing emissions and fighting climate change, would be doing their best to reduce dependence on cars and trucks, which account for 80 percent of transportation emissions.

Not exactly.

In Portland, Oregon, city and state officials are pushing a plan to spend a half-billion dollars widening Interstate 5 as it passes north of the city’s downtown. The project entered its period of public comment earlier this month. In a nod to the ugly history of urban renewal, the widening would take a chunk out of the backyard of Harriet Tubman Middle School. But it would also, the Oregon Department of Transportation says, dramatically improve highway travel times in the year 2045. The agency even says the newer, bigger highway would be better for the environment.