Portland’s Freeway Names, Pacific Highway

Portland’s Freeway Names, Pacific Highway

Start at the beginning

Pacific Highway (99W, and surface streets):

While essentially a “Dead” highway, Portland’s highway system starts with the Pacific Highway. The Pacific Highway was completed in 1923, as the first “border to border” paved highway west of the Mississippi, it ran 341 miles from California to Washington. Eventually it was expanded from Canada to Mexico. This new road spurred a lot of development throughout Oregon. Several smaller cities moved their downtown core to be along the highway, and businesses sprung up along it’s full length to service travelers.

As 99W, Pacific Highway ran through Downtown Portland, crossed Willamette River via the Steel Bridge, and then continued up Interstate Avenue. In the 1950’s, the downtown portion was routed on the west side of the Willamette along Harbor Boulevard. But when Harbor was removed after the Freeway Protests, in 1974, it ran along First Avenue/Naito Parkway to the Steel Bridge.

Remains of the Pacific Highway still run parallel to I-5, along SW Barbur Boulevard.

On to Banfield Freeway

Portland’s Freeway Names

Portland’s Freeway Names

Unknown to many Portlanders is the fact that many of our highways have names beyond their official designations. A few of the traffic reporters in the local news still throw out names like “Banfield,” and “Sunset,” during their reports but several other names have long faded into obscurity.

In Oregon, there are three specific periods when it comes to highways. Oregon was the first state to pass a tax on gasoline in 1919, with the money dedicated to improving highways in Oregon for travel. Many highways were built with this money, many of which are still in use today. These highways mostly connected one town with another, but the ambitious Pacific Highway was built during this period.

While Oregon’s ambitious highway system proved it’s worth during WWII in supplying the needs of local war efforts, the entire system was showing it’s age. The Depression removed a lot of money for repairs and expansions, and during WWII Congress forbade any road construction pass what was necessary for the war effort. Spurned by the support of Robert H. “Sam” Baldock, the Oregon State Highway Engineer, and the strong support of Thomas H. Banfield, the Oregon legislature gave OSHD the authority to build grade-separated and controlled-access routes in 1947. The Oregon Legislature continued to pass laws and budgets to support this ambitious project well into 1949.

This also marked a turn in “modern” highway design. Previous highways could have stop lights, rail road crossing, and businesses on each side to attract travelers. Unfortunately these could cause major backups for miles along the highway. The new grade-separated and controlled-access design was meant to eliminate these backups and more efficiently move traffic between points.

By the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the “Freeway Revolts” were well under way not only across America, but around the world. Portland was at the fore front of these for a variety of reasons. The original 1950’s six freeway plan (and the follow up plan of 50 freeways by 1990,) were effectively scrapped. This left two Freeways uncompleted, and led to the complete removal of another.

These original revolts, which lead to Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundary law are credited around the world in keeping sprawl in Portland to a minimum and directly leads to it’s high livability scores.

On to Part Two

Help for Renters in Oregon

Help for Renters in Oregon

Below are various resources to help low income people with finding rentals, or disputing landlord/tenant issues.

General Financial Assistance

OSU Extension Services

“Need Help Paying Bills”

Rental Housing Assistant Programs

Oregon Housing and Community Services

HUD Subsidized Apartments

Portland Housing Assistance

Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Portland

Tenants Rights in Oregon


Community Alliance of Tenants

Oregon State Bar

Tenant Rights Oregon

Oregon Renter’s Hanbook

Legal Options and Help for Low Incomes people

City of Portland Office of Human Relations

Pro Bono Student Lawyers

Oregon State Law Legal Aid

Occupy Portland Analysis

Occupy Portland Analysis

There seems to be a lot of misconception about what the Occupy Portland protests are about. People are deriding the protesters, without really knowing who they are. They merely complain about the how it’s going to affect the commute home. The entire Occupy Wallstreet movement’s lack of clear goals is hurting them in the press.

But the protestors are not “snot nosed kids,” “hippies,” “welfare scum,” or “homeless unemployed.” The average age is low 30’s. A lot have homes. Many have jobs. Many have been recently unemployed or are fearful of their jobs being cut. Many no longer have savings or a 401k plan. They come from a multitude of backgrounds, truck drivers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, warehouse clerks, etc. They come from ALL political parties, but are heavily represented by the Swing Voters that both parties try so hard to court. Many are recent college graduates who haven’t been able to find a job no matter what degree they got. And there are a LOT of 50+ year olds in the group who are just plain tired of it all and fondly recall when things “truly were better.”

While the overall movement seems to be some what jumbled in it’s goals, it’s quickly becoming apparent that the biggest complaint is how much the “Government” no longer represents the “People,” but rather Corporations. Many are starting to believe that the repeated economic woes are directly tied to how Government continues to bow to Corporate Interests to the detriment of the Citizens.

They’re tired of corporate bail outs, massive tax breaks (and rebates,) for industries that are making record profits. They’re tired of being told “the wealthy need tax breaks as they’re job creators,” when all evidence and common business sense dictates that jobs are created when they’re needed, not because someone got a tax break and can “afford” to hire someone. They’re tired of excessive copyright and patent rules that stifle innovation. They’re tired of being told all their life “go to college, get a great job, live the American Dream,” but finding that there are no jobs, and they’re in debt for tens of thousands of dollars with no hopes of getting out of debt any time soon.

They’re tired of not being heard and represented by their elected officials.

The only thing keeping this from becoming a second American Revolution is these people still have hope that change IS possible. That Corporate needs must come in second to Citizens needs instead of the other way around. If that does not happen, the seeds of revolution that were cast into the wind of the Middle East will find roots again among the birthplace of Democracy.

You shouldn’t be worried about your commute home. You should be worried that things will continue the way they are.