Dear Metro: Don't approve more roads
As a 21-year-old who grew up in Clackamas County, I had many experiences of car-heavy traffic and transit failure on the three-mile commute to Wilsonville High School.
Young people in Wilsonville know firsthand that highway expansion does not reduce congestion. However, my age also exposes me to the fearful truth that my life is heavily affected by climate change on a local level. Oregon's transportation emissions make up 40% of our total state carbon emissions, and Portland has some of the worst air quality in the country.
Right now, we stand at a turning point: We, as a county, region and state, can either create opportunities to drastically lower our carbon emissions or we can continue to make the same choices that have brought us to this moment in history.
Metro, the regional government entity, is putting together a package called T2020 that will allocate money to transportation projects in the next three years. I testified as a member of Sunrise Movement PDX, supporting the recommendations for the T2020 package made by the Getting There Together Coalition.
I also testified in opposition to further road and highway expansion, including the Clackamas to Columbia Corridor and the Airport Way Overpass.
Let me be clear: Metro's transportation bond has many good elements, and this measure is a unique opportunity to invest in whichever transportation projects will improve our air quality, provide alternatives to traffic congestion, and improve traffic safety.
But Metro's transportation package still includes hundreds of millions of dollars worth of road widenings. These projects do nothing for any of the aforementioned goals, and represent continued investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure when my future — and the future of all current and future generations of Oregonians — desperately calls for climate leadership.
As voters in Clackamas County, we must support investments in transportation systems that appropriately rise to the challenge that the climate emergency repre-
Massive investments in biking, walking and transit would increase personal health, community health and global health. The next generation of students that grows up in communities across Clackamas County should see noncar transportation options as obvious, accessible and easy choices to get around town for work and education. Right now, we can change the way our world moves.
The voices of Clackamas County commissioners demanding our corner of the region needs more roads don't speak for all of us, and they certainly don't speak for me, or anyone else who can't sleep at night because of their
fears of what the existential crisis of climate change represents.
I look around my community with streets clogged with single-occupancy vehicles, and I am disheartened. By 2030, I will be 31. Every dollar spent on widening roads instead of providing excellent biking, walking and transit is a dollar that the adults in positions of power are using to rob young Oregonians of a future with a hospitable planet.
As the fires in Australia and Indonesia show, this is happening right now.
As the Metro Council considers the components that will be in this upcoming transportation package, the voices of those of us pleading for transportation justice and climate justice need to be lifted. I support investments in youth passes, safe routes to school, a robust transit investment on McLoughlin and I oppose more roads.
My future depends on it.
Mikhaila Bishop is a resident of Wilsonville.
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