Metro managing all the bridges?

The City of Fairview has passed a resolution requesting that Metro coordinate the repairs on all the Willamette River bridges including the Sellwood bridge:

Metro is a natural fit, he said, because of its three-county reach and because it already handles transportation planning and selects projects to receive some federal transportation funds.

“No matter who puts a bridge up, Metro would be involved,” Weatherby said. “To create a separate and independent bridge authority would create a new layer of bureaucracy. If you already have an agency whose apparatus is there, you get a running start.”

Multnomah County floated the idea to create an independent regional bridge authority as part of its plan to raise the car registration fee to help pay for a new Sellwood Bridge. The plan was shelved in February, after votes against the fee increase by city leaders in Gresham, Troutdale and Maywood Park.

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0 responses to “Metro managing all the bridges?”

  1. I concur. I’m all for government, but creating more independent agencies isn’t adding anything to the services our government can provide.

  2. Great. Then Metro would have another basic service to rake off our dollars from for Disneyland toys like a publicly operated hotel. Sorry, Metro has lost all credibility as an operator of public services.

    But, maybe we could make a deal… Let Metro take over the bridges, but make them dedicate the hotel/motel taxes they currently burn with the convention center to the bridges?

  3. There are two ways to look at this:

    1) Pulling these services out of the existing jurisdictions runs the risk of losing expertise or efficiencies that exist presently in the original organizations. Coordination can continue through agreements and planning, but responsibility should stay with the local areas.

    2) Bridges are critical to all of the region’s users and no one jurisdictions abilities or challenges should be the limiting or defining factor.

    I am not sure how I’d feel, but if the bridge proposal gets traction it might be worth thinking about a regional highway district model – one that would have a dedicated revenue source for road maintenance and bridge maintenance. But with property taxes where they are, I think the only way you could do this is with a regional gas tax or other revenue source.

  4. The central problem here is the bridges are not adequately funded. If we continue status quo, they will deteriorate and ultimately have to be closed one-by-one. So I assume everyone can agree that they need a funding source.

    Realistically, there seem to be two options:
    1. Toll the bridges so users pay the supplemental costs needed (let’s leave which users are paying out of this discussion please).
    2. Implement a geographical tax or fee (could be city, county, or regional).

    Which do people think voters would prefer, if given that they MUST pay somehow?

  5. Regional coordination of bridge maintenance and replacement is not a power grab. An 800-member fiefdom singlehandedly preventing the County from performing its duties to the public is.

  6. Umm…am I missing something here?

    The Convention Center Hotel, just like the Convention Center itself was initiated by the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission. Metro leadership was reluctant to get into the Convention business twenty years ago, and they are openly doubting and questioning of going into the hotel business now.

    Metro was given these duties because no other governmental body really wanted them. This goes for operating the Oregon Zoo and Expo Center as well. It has been my experience that Metro has done a pretty decent job of managing and improving these facilities over the years.

    True, the Oregon Convention Center is not the economic engine that we were promised, but very few convention facilities are successful in this regard.

  7. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if part of the reason for this idea is because Metro has established boundaries, which could be used for regional funding. Any sort of new district or authority would have to set up new boundaries for itself.

    One issue I can think of is what happens if having to “coordinate” everything with Metro results in delays for both project start times as well as longer times until project completion, unless there are excellent means of communication between bridge owners, construction companies and Metro.

  8. Yes, Metro is so poorly run that all of the Council races this year are hotly contested. The citizens of the region cannot wait to throw the current batch of idiots out on their ears. There is no end of well-qualified opposition.

    At least, that’s what you’d think from reading the posts on this blog. ;)

  9. Metro has made it clear that it is totally biased towards light rail and Streetcar (which is clearly not a “regional” project). I do not for one second trust them to manage anything that involves highway projects for fear that they would use their authority to actually degrade service and use the funds for their pet projects.

    I would rather see a regional highway authority that is completely autonomous from TriMet and Metro, that handles all regional highway planning in the three counties, and if necessary handles all regional road operations (I’m not sure if I-5/I-205/I-84/Sunset Highway would be included, but they could be).

    Such an arrangement would actually largely replace the county road departments (or reduce them to only the lowest capacity of roads), remove many “city” streets which really serve a regional purpose, as well as many “State” highways whose “statewide importance” is questionable (i.e. Barbur Blvd., TV Highway, Lombard Street, 82nd Avenue, McLoughlin Blvd., Powell Blvd., Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Hall Blvd.) So while it would be a new body of government, it would consolidate and streamline a number of disparate agencies right now into a single agency with a laser-beam focus to improve regional road transportation, instead of pandering to developers/light rail interests, or political motivations, or any other special interest.

  10. City council has $5 for a new bridge over 405 (side bets on the real number when its over, anyone?) and $33 million for new markups. It would go a LONG way to solving this problem if they’d have the decency to put that on the table for the Sellwood. Why should people in Sherwood and Scapoose volunteer to be assessed for it through Metro?

  11. Most of the money (for example, urban renewal money) would not be available for use in Sellwood. This isn’t a very hard concept to grasp, yet people from the Mayor on down don’t seem able to understand it.

    Scapoose isn’t in Metro’s boundary.

  12. It makes sense to me that any responsibility of government that has regional significance should eventually be handed over to a regional entity as that region matures into a contiguous urban area. What does not make sense to me is that any one of potentially dozens of different government entities (27 in our case) should be solely responsible for implementing and/or maintaining critical infrastructure and services that are essential to the region, or could hold hostage a project of regional significance.

    It has always boggled my mind that one can cross over an invisible line between Portland and (for example) Milwaukie and be subject to different laws and taxes and even be served by different fire and police departments. I remember back in the summer of ’91 or ’92 when Portland residents were forbade from watering their lawns, so on the north side of Johnson Creek Blvd you saw dying brown grass but the Milwaukie residents on the other side of the street were allowed to waste as much water as they desired. Even as a child that seemed completely asinine to me… we’re all here together in one “city” and it seemed to me that we should be served by one government (i.e., NYC with it’s boroughs). In the nearly 20 years since then I’ve softened my “one government” stance a bit, but it still makes sense to me that many services/functions should be handed over to a regional entity as a collection of cities grow and evolve into one interdependent region.

    Metro today has an essential mission of critical import to the region as a whole, but it is a specialized mission that isn’t sexy or interesting to the masses. However, Metro already exists, it’s borders are established and it’s ranking members are elected by the public. It seems logical that gradually adding to their responsibility will increase the public’s interest in and awareness of Metro as well as increase the level of public participation (including the number of people running for office). For all you conspiracy theorists out there who think Metro would illegally squander away toll revenue towards developer incentives for high-rises next to light-rail stations, more responsibility equates to more accountability for the Metro council as it’s mission increases in profile and it’s work becomes more tangible and less esoteric. Then again, I’m not sure how one gets more accountable than being directly elected by the public.

  13. I’m okay with making Sellwood pay for it’s new bridge. But, in that spirit, let’s also make Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin et al pay for all the 217 and WES improvements. Why not also make Portland and Vancouver only pay for a new CRC?

    Oh, regional benefits and all.

  14. Not only should Metro coordinate bridges for the area, it should absorb Tri-Met as well.

    A board of gubernatorial appointees running our local bus company is plain stupid, and all the rationales for our elected Metro Board taking over bridges could also apply to fixing our failing transit system.


  15. “Not only should Metro coordinate bridges for the area, it should absorb Tri-Met as well.”

    They can if they want to:

    “Metro may at any time assume the duties, functions, powers and operations of a mass transit district by ordinance.”

    See Metro charter, chapter 2, section 7, paragraph 4.

  16. Metro can actually get stuff done unlike the counties. Note that all the libertarians are up in arms over this idea because we would then have a government in charge that works and fixes things.

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