It’s very clear that CRC has sucked up funding from every available source. 2011-10-26_CRC_Monthly_Report_Sept_2011_FNL-1 Appendix H-1 (3)
Honolulu is set to construct an ambitious urban rail project. It’s a $5.125 billion behemoth that this metropolitan area with less than a million residents may not be able to afford.
Jim Moeller’s statements about the Columbia River Crossing legislation: The tolling authorized in this legislation (which passed the House, 65-33) is in fact a principal funding mechanism for mega-projects now underway around the state. The Transportation Commission could impose tolling on the Columbia River Crossing to fund the local share …
“According to the Regional Transportation Council, the bridge carries about 3,300 transit trips per day. That means only 2.4 percent of all trips that cross the bridge are on public transit. Adding light rail to the bridge would increase costs by about $1.17 billion. This means local officials want to spend 40 percent more in order to serve 2.4% of total bridge crossings.”
Keep in mind, of the 3,300 bus rides across the Columbia River, if all were round trip, this represents
only 1650 riders! The Draft Environmental Impact Statement included a far less costly bus option instead of light rail.
Shouldn’t the bus option be thoroughly considered?
What’s today’s story? Two weeks ago the staff and consultants for the CRC highway mega-project made their third presentation at a hearing of the CRC legislative oversight committee. Unlike previous hearings, this one was electric – and made front-page news in The Oregonian. CRC consultants and staff presented the oversight committee with a new plan – one to cut back the CRC by $650 million, eliminating expanded connections to the ports.
After many months of work, Forensic accountant Tiffany Couch has released her CRC Forensic Accounting Analysis. Her work has “identified numerous significant questionable accounting and contracting practices involving the CRC.”
Critics have pointed out that as currently designed, the new bridge would have no more traffic lanes than the existing bridge, but would include a generous bike lane. Also in the sights of the architects: an unpopular light rail line to Vancouver combined with an urban renewal district, components which knowledgeable experts factor could add a full one third in additional costs to the project. Another key shoe to drop came when Vancouver citizen organizer David Madore galvanized public awareness with two “Bridging the Gap” presentations in June and October of 2011. Madore hired Vancouver financial investigation and forensic accounting firm Acuity Group to submit public information requests to the Washington Department of Transportation and analyze the documents upon release. Principal accountant Tiffany Couch offered testimony at the June event that raised legitimate questions about apparent budget-busting CRC expenditures to date.
Earlier this month, the three major candidates for mayor - Eileen Brady,Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith – gathered for the race’s first debate. Although the trio showed little disagreement on issues like jobs and the economy, the difference came in the Columbia River Crossing, the proposed Interstate 5 bridge. Despite this being a project that would cost billions, has been vehemently criticized for its design (think flat slabs of concrete), is not supported by a majority of the community and is not even sure to reduce traffic congestion, two of three candidates expressed support for its going forward.
This spring the Oregon legislature created an oversight committee on the Columbia River Crossing, deciding a project of this scale and expense warranted a closer look. At that committee’s inaugural meeting, Rep. Wand asked about the criteria used to select the project and move it forward, and Rep. Bentz tried to get to the bottom of the Purpose and Need statement. Legislators, understandably, are trying to figure out how the heck we got saddled with an unaffordable mega-project, while rejecting a host of alternatives we could actually get built.
The Oregon legislature is on deck to approve or disapprove its share of funding for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) Project. The CRC plan is crafted by the Oregon Department of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation, and various other local and federal government agencies. Oregon must also approve or disapprove an obligation to back the tolling revenue bonds included in the plan. Oregon state government’s share of project investment is estimated to be $450 million, and additionally, its guarantee of toll bonds is estimated to be about $650 million. Washington State’s contribution and obligation are the same as those of Oregon State, per plan. The federal government is expected to contribute another $1,250 million. All total, the CRC plan is estimated to cost $3.45 billion in state government contributions, project tolls, and federal contributions.
The ongoing process of refining the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project continues as opponents, including the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), filed a brief on November 9, 2011, with the Oregon Supreme Court arguing against Metro’s use of a Land-Use Final Order (LUFO), a statute crafted in the 1990s that pertains to light rail projects.
Last Saturday the Antiplanner participated in a conference about the Columbia River Crossing, a government-planning effort aimed at replacing a bridge that doesn’t need to be replaced so Portland can sneak its light-rail system (and associated land-use planning) into Vancouver, Washington. One of the more fascinating presentations at the conference came from Tiffany Couch, a forensic accountant who has been studying the budget of the planning team called the Columbia River Crossing. It is public knowledge that this team has already spent $130 million doing nothing but pushing paper around. Since the bridge itself could be built for less than a billion dollars, that’s a healthy share of the cost. Of course, the planners’ goal is to spend well over $3 billion on the bridge, which would include money for light rail and other bells and whistles that are probably just as unnecessary.
READ MORE: http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=5723