PORTLAND, Ore. — Transportation and environmental activists called on Portland city officials to reject a proposed Interstate 5 expansion aimed at reducing crashes and congestion.

More than 350 people and 26 groups have signed a letter that asked the city to not support the $450 million expansion on the stretch of roadway running through the heart of Portland, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported (http://bit.ly/2f8O9xZ ) Thursday.

The project would only be a temporary fix, activists said, as it would prompt city residents to drive more, causing more pollution and leaving the congestion issue unresolved.

The Oregon Department of Transportation proposed the project, which officials said would address one of the state’s worst highway bottlenecks and save commuters time on the roadway. Department officials said the project would also add an auxiliary lane to connect the on- and off-ramps that is expected to reduce crashes because of merging.

The expansion was among the projects singled out for funding in the state Legislature’s $5.3 billion transportation package earlier this year.

The opposition to the project comes as the Portland City Council begins deliberations on a plan for the central part of the city that includes the expansion project.

Project opponents said the state should implement a toll for the corridor in question that could reduce the number of trips drivers take on the roadway. City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he plans to push for a resolution to ask the state to implement tolling before the expansion project begins.

Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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