Thursday Morning at the Matt and Paula Show

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to sit in on the first half of the Portland Freight Advisory Committee meeting. As I previously reported, ODOT Director Matt Garrett and Washington Secretary of Transportation of Transportation Paula Hammond were the featured guests, discussing the Columbia River Crossing.

The format was interesting, it felt a bit like Committee Chair Corky Collier was interviewing two folks on a talk show (with questions from the audience thrown in).

While Director Garrett is a familiar face, this was the first time I’ve heard Secretary Hammond speak, and I found a number of her comments interesting:

  • The financial plan for the project is held together with “string, failing wire and duct tape”
  • The project will be looking for $500-600M from each state legislature
  • She spoke favorably of variable pricing and noted that Washington is using pre-construction tolling to help finance other projects
  • Washington does not have a constitutional restriction on use of toll revenues, and allows tolling as a demand-management tool, not just for project finance. Priorities for use of toll revenue are repaying construction financing and operation and maintenance of the facility. Use for demand alternatives (e.g., transit) is still an open conversation in the Washington legislature

I was also struck by one comment from a committee member. The $400M appropriation (earmark) the project will be seeking from Congress would the the “largest such appropriation in history that went to a district other than one represented by the Speaker of the House.”

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

2 responses to “Thursday Morning at the Matt and Paula Show”

  1. What strikes me is $500-600 million from each state legislature ($1-1.2 billion total) and $400 million from Washington, DC (for a grand total of $1.6 billion), all for construction of new capacity and infrastructure, and a big fat $0 for continued operation of transit systems and services we already have.

  2. Thursday Morning at the Matt and Paula Show
    The format was interesting, it felt a bit like Committee Chair Corky Collier was interviewing two folks on a talk show (with questions from the audience thrown in).
    Chris right on………..

    I was only able to make the second half and it did seem like a talk show…… promotion……. And the constant statement “you folks need to contact your elected official right now because they are not on board unless we can show that one voice…. one project….. one direction we won’t have a project”. Drum beat was the whole theme. This would be after 87 million dollars, 5 years of CRC, and 11 million in PR. Not only is almost no one sold….. The more people hear, the more they dislike the current LPA……

    The department heads just repeated the same phases.
    “We don’t know what it will look like in the end, or how much it will cost, or exactly how it will perform. There is a need for more studies, there have been so many changes we don‘t think that anyone really knows what the project is…”
    Those are a few of the things they said….. With every other statement that they made….. They ended with we need to push “this project” forward…….. And we will know how it works or if it works after it is built….. We can then manage what we have.
    The Push on something that we don’t know what it is, what it will do, what it looks like, how it will work, how much it will cost, or impacts……..

    The mix in the room was interesting…… almost no industry….. Mostly government agencies and people paid to be there. The few in the audience that were with business did not have good things to say…. And the committee Chair did try and gloss over the concerns….. kind of…. Well I know you’ve already heard this concern….. I am sure it will get addressed…. Well we don’t really have time to get into that…. Or details…… they will come down the road….. There is much more information to come.

    The hard sale was going on…. However the audience was missing and it didn’t fall on deaf ears….. They where just not in the room.
    So the surprise in the room wasn’t so much that they pushed so very hard and had too. It was that the people they need to support them didn’t even come.

    The Third Bridge came up in favorable light………
    Glad that Bike and Ped have joined so many others in withdrawing support of the Locally Preferred Alternative of the CRC staff.

    If you have not visited our web site lately it has changed….. and more changes to come….

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