Sam Adams Gets Right to the Point at PDC

Yesterday the Portland Development Commission got their briefing on the Locally Preferred Alternative for Eastside Streetcar (the tour of local governments continues – this morning JPACT will review the LPA and make a recommendation to the finally adopting body, the Metro Council).

Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams led off the discussion and after reviewing the benefits Streetcar has delivered on the west side (including catalyzing $2.4B of private investment) didn’t mince words: “I’m hear to advocate with you for $25 Million from across four urban renewal areas: Convention Center, Central Eastside, River District and Downtown Waterfront.” Sam went on to be clear that part of the reason City Council raised the maximum indebtedness on the Central Eastside district $16M more than PDC recommended was to help make sure there were funds for both the Burnside/Couch couplet and the Streetcar.

By the way, the reason two west side districts are listed is that one effect of the Eastside Streetcar, which will run from PSU or RiverPlace to at least the Lloyd District and ultimately to OMSI and then back across the river, is that it will double the frequency of Streetcar in downtown and the Pearl District.

The three PDC commissioners (two seats are currently vacant) seemed to get the message. Chair Rosenbaum asked what budget years the funds needed to be planned for (he also asked when we would know if the Federal money wasn’t going to happen so the URA funds could be reprogrammed for other uses – Sam didn’t have an immediate answer but agreed to figure that out).

The answer to the Chair’s question is that the funds would need to be commited before we apply for the Federal funds, probably in about a year.

3 responses to “Sam Adams Gets Right to the Point at PDC”

  1. Go Sam Adams!

    Though, I should hope that the PDC and other funding partners wouldn’t give up and walk away quite so quickly if the feds didn’t come through for any reason. It would seem that creative funding solutions would require the use of the urban renewal funds even more to complete the project under that scenario…

  2. What percentage is expected of the Feds?

    What is the estimated total cost of project at now?

    What is the estimated total ROI in new development?

  3. To get all the way to OMSI is on the order of $160M (that’s still a pre-engineering estimate).

    Federal participation under the Small Starts program would be capped at the lower of 50-60% of project costs or $75M max (we would hope to get the full $75M).

    There are lots of benefit calculations you can use, but since this isn’t a profit-making enterprise, ROI isn’t one of them.

    The estimate for the full loop is about 5,000 incremental riders above serving the same route with a bus (and so far Streetcar has vastly exceeded all its ridership projections).

    The big benefit to the region is probably the ability to put another 4,000 housing units in the Central City, avoiding putting them out at the edge of the UGB (where they would have long auto commute times further congesting our highways).

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