Archive | July, 2008

CRC Makes Ironic Pairing at JPACT

I couldn’t suppress a chuckle when reading the agenda (PDF, 32K) for the JPACT meeting coming up on Thursday.

The committee will not only vote on the LPA and RTP amendment for the Columbia River Crossing, but they will also vote on an RTP amendment “to Reduce the ODOT Region 1 Modernization Program”.

In transportation-speak, “modernization” means highway expansion. Because counties are so strapped for transportation dollars, the last Legislature tweaked the gas tax distribution formula to give a little more money to counties and take it from ODOT’s expansion programs.

This pretty clearly makes the point that the gas tax is a zero sum game.

I think this is relevant to CRC, because the CRC funding plan (as much of one as there is – it would fit on the back of a napkin) assumes that the State of Oregon will come up with about $700M for the project. The only place the Legislature is going to find that kind of money is from a gas tax increase (bonded for a LONG time). And given the difficulty in raising the gas tax, and the dire maintenance needs around the state, it’s perfectly clear to me that any increase in gas tax for the CRC is an increase in gas tax that’s NOT going to fund other important needs (think Sellwood Bridge).

Let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion that the CRC is going to be funded by some giant pot of money dropping from the sky. It’s going to come out of the hide of other important priorities in our region and our state.

BTW – what’s getting cut from “modernization”? Most of the $26M in cuts will come from $14M saved by delaying or canceling (I can’t tell which from the agenda materials) the expansion of Highway 26 from 4 to 6 lanes between 185th and Cornell. Now I wonder which Washington County wants more – the Sunset widening or the CRC?

A Little Daylight in Council Consideration of CRC

The Portland Mercury is reporting that Commissioner Dan Saltzman is shopping the idea of withholding Council support for the Columbia River Crossing Locally Preferred Alternative until the independent analyses that both the Portland City Council and Metro Council have requested are complete.

Apparently it’s dawning on these guys that once they approve the LPA they may never get another bite at this thing regardless of what any additional analysis may say.

Go Dan!

The Other CRC Decision

While everyone is (justifiably) focused on the Locally Preferred Alternative decision for the Columbia River Crossing, a correspondent points out that another decision related to the project is being rushed through.

The required amendment to add the CRC to the Regional Transportation Plan is now in the pipeline. It was pushed through TPAC last Friday with very little notice, and will now go to JPACT on its way to the Metro Council with amendments expected along the way.

But… as a major modification to the Regional Transportation Plan, isn’t this supposed to have a public comment period? It does not appear that one has been scheduled.