🚗 What’s the big deal about widening I-5?

🚗 What’s the big deal about widening I-5?

(📸: Hector Chacon)


ICYMI, we wrote all about our city’s tree canopy last week, including where it’s healthiest, how it’s changing, and who’s missing out.

But as a few astute readers pointed out, there’s more to the story:

Portland has stronger protections for large trees today than it did five years ago, but the rules still allow developers or homeowners to take them down.

What’s new is that property owners must now pay a fee for removing trees larger than a certain size. That fee makes tree removal more cumbersome, but it doesn’t make it impossible.

We should also say something else about big, historic trees — or “charismatic megaflora,” as Dr. Vivek Shandas calls them. Yes, they add character to a neighborhood, and that matters to a lot of people. But that’s not all they do.

Unlike, say, historic houses, old trees also provide ecological benefits to our city, including making sure floods like this don’t happen when we get heavy rain (which obviously never happens in Portland, but still).

That’s why activists are pushing the city to do more planting in areas without extensive tree canopy — and to protect existing trees as Portland grows.

P.S. Check out the Branch Out PDX website to learn more about tree canopy in our city, or hit reply if you want to see Dr. Shandas speak at the Elevating Impact Summit this Friday. We have two tickets to give away, and they’ll go to the first person to respond. 👍


Take it from us, the view of Portland’s skyline is best from above — and if you become a Bridgeliner member today, you’ll have a chance to see it on a free flight with Oregon Helicopters.

Just grab yourself a Bridgeliner membership, then look out for the entry instructions in tomorrow’s members-only section of the newsletter.


The debate over whether to expand I-5 is getting heated — but unless you studied urban planning in college and know all about “induced demand” and “buildable caps,” you might be wondering what it all means.

Setting jargon aside, ODOT basically wants to widen I-5 through the Rose Quarter, which officials say would reduce crashes and ease congestion.

They might be right about the first part, but they’re almost certainly wrong about the second part. Study after study has shown that widening freeways just causes more cars to use them, and despite ODOT’s efforts to spin the numbers, Portlanders know that.

So is the project dead on arrival? Not exactly. One way ODOT hopes to gain support is by including “sweeteners” to make highway expansion more palatable to progressives.

Under the current proposal, the project would include a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-5, new bike lanes in the Rose Quarter, and highway “caps” that would connect the surrounding neighborhood to the waterfront — all things that progressive activists support.

But so far that strategy isn’t working. BikePortland and its allies seem almost universally opposed to the project, and leaders of the Albina Vision say the current capping design is a flop.

Want to dive deeper? There’s a panel event happening at the Portland Armory next Monday, and ODOT is taking public feedback on the proposal for another 19 days.

Update: Reader Julie S. pointed out that calling this a “debate” might give the wrong impression. ODOT holds almost all the cards here, and “barring some big political upheaval,” the project is happening, she wrote. Here’s her full response, plus other reactions from readers.

In other news…

Oregon’s snowpack is finally at normal levels, and that’s good news for ski resorts, water supply, and salmon — but it means nothing for our risk of fire this summer. (Willamette Week)

Damian Lillard is about to become the second-leading scorer in Blazers history, and we’re very excited about the traitor player he’s surpassing. (KGW)

A new down-to-earth cocktail bar opens today in the Foster-Powell district, and Eater has a sneak peek. (Eater)


💡 Friday: Be inspired by change-making researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs at the PSU School of Business’s Elevating Impact Summit (NW | Pearl)

👟 Friday: Learn about a job program at Nike that pays for college and has three-day weekends (Beaverton)

🔮 Monday, March 18: Learn about the Albina Vision, the I-5 expansion project, and what comes next (NW | Pearl)

🤔 Wednesday, March 20: Join Oregon Humanities for a Think & Drink event with award-winning journalist Omar El Akkad (NE | Alberta)

🌳 Monday, March 25: Hear big ideas for the future of our city’s public parks (NW | Pearl)



📖 Hear a book talk about ageism (Beaverton)

🎙️ Catch a “Pod Save the People” live show (SE | Buckman)

🌙 Or listen into “Welcome to Night Vale” (Downtown)

💆 Take a class on foam rolling and self-care (SE | Hosford-Abernethy)


🍔 Get paid to taste burgers (NW | Pearl)

🙋 Play “Harry Potter” trivia (SE | Powell)

🎥 Watch some epic adventure films (SE | Buckman)

🎪 See a Cirque du Soleil performance (NE | Rose Quarter)


🍆 Hear Dan Savage talk about sex (SE | Buckman)

🎶 Celebrate 50 years of Music Millennium  (SE | Brooklyn)

🇮🇪 Raise a glass at Kells Irish Pub – through Sunday (Downtown)

☘️ Or dance a jig at McMenamins – through Sunday (NE | Concordia)


☘️ Dress up for LepreCon (Downtown)

🤓 Learn all about your brain (SE | Central Eastside)

📚 Get big discounts on used books (NE | Albina)

🚢 Go to a dance party on a yacht (SE | Central Eastside)

🤣 Be cracked up by Tiffany Haddish (Downtown)

🎸 Jam with a local synth-pop band (N | St. Johns) 🆕


😎 Lace up for a skate night (SE | Sellwood) 🆕

🍿 Watch “Singin’ in the Rain” (NE | Hollywood) 🆕

🎽 Run in Portland’s biggest road race (Downtown) 🆕

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #bridgeliner on Instagram to be featured.


We’ll see you tomorrow.

–  Bridgeliner

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