Archive | July, 2010

Metro Analysis Shows Tolls and LRT Curb CRC Sprawl

Metro has completed a new growth forecast of population and employment, looking at various configurations of the Columbia River Crossing.

While their modeling confirms that a bridge with no tolls would increase housing growth in the northern parts of Clark County (growth at the edge of the region – aka sprawl), the combination of Light Rail and a toll of $2 each way (at rush hour) is apparently sufficient to keep housing growth comparable to the no-build scenario.

In my mind, this emphasizes the importance of agreeing now on a governance structure that will manage the bridge, and its tolls, to ensure that if the bridge is built it is managed to the goals that all the sponsors endorse as part of the project approval.

MTIP Time Again – Your Chance to Comment

The MTIP (Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program) is a rolling 4-year plan for how transportation funds will be spent in the region that is updated every two years. The 2010-2013 Plan is now in development and Metro is seeking comments.

The dust-up a few weeks ago about active transportation versus freight was part of this process, as JPACT was providing policy guidance for how to split the flexible funding portion of MTIP (only a few percent) between modes.

Recalibration? Milwaukie Light Rail gets 50%, not 60% federal match.

TriMet issued a press release today noting that the FTA has expressed strong support for the Milwaukie Light Rail project, but only committed to a 50% match, rather than 60% as has been customary in the past for light rail projects in our region.

The reasons listed were:

  • TA New Starts share could be no greater than 50 percent for a project over $1 billion
  • There is tremendous demand for the New Starts program, and FTA did not want to create a precedent for a federal share above 50 percent for a project over $1 billion
  • The US Department of Transportation’s budget has not increased and the Transportation Reauthorization Bill is not moving forward
  • There is no anticipated increase in most domestic spending, as directed by President Obama

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane is quoted in the press release as saying “Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working with our project partners to recalibrate the project to fit within these new funding parameters”.

I wonder if this recalibration might also be an opportunity to reassess the idea of bonding future operating revenue to pay for capital construction?