Common Sense CRC Analysis Paid for by the Private Sector

Plaid Panty owner Chris Girard (who appeared at this summer’s community alternatives panel) engaged Joe Cortright to produce an analysis of the fiscal risks of the Columbia River Crossing.

It’s sobering reading (PDF, 1.9M).

9 responses to “Common Sense CRC Analysis Paid for by the Private Sector”

  1. Ugh.

    The report contains a few issues–the costing is (AFAIK) in line with the Federally prescribed methodology (long term financing costs excluded, costs quoted in year-of-expenditure dollars), and I’m not entirely sure including TriMet (or C-Tran’s) operational costs in the total sticker price is entirely appropriate (even though it’s a small percentage of the total).

    But the notes on traffic forecasting are significantly troubling. It’s not the only project I can think of which has questionable traffic/ridership predictions as part of its justification.

  2. Having a standard federal costing methodology may be useful for the feds in comparing the costs of projects. That same methodology may be incomplete for purposes of determining the cost/benefits of a particular investment for the region. This is true for transit projects as well.

    The problem with the CRC process for the last 10 years is that it has been more a sales job for predetermined outcome than an even-handed evaluation of alternatives. The region’s leaders have consistently been provided with information that, while probably not deliberately inaccurate, was misleading for anyone not completely steeped in the arcane details.

    To point out another example, the claim that most of the trips on the bridge are “local”. This was arrived at by counting all the trips coming off SR500 and SR14 as “local” even if they originated in Battleground and Camas and ended in downtown Portland. That definition of “local” may make sense for traffic engineers looking to limit the scope of solutions to be considered, but is highly misleading for people evaluating the bridge’s role in the regional transportation system. As a result, I am not sure it has ever been clear to anyone how many trips actually start or end in the bridge influence area, as opposed to starting or ending further upstream and use SR14 or SR500 to access I5.

    The unfortunate reality is this is just one more study that suggests 10 years and 100’s of millions of dollars have been wasted. The political cost of admitting that and starting over is what is keeping the CRC proposal alive.

  3. I don’t think that “starting over” is necessary–much of the data which has been collected would be useful for any reboot of the project.

    However, the project’s purpose and need statement probably needs to be revised. The current P&N pretty much ordains a megabridge. If people are truly concerned about cost, then THAT needs to be reflected in the P&N statement; without a cost constraint, the easiest way for engineers to satisfy requirements is to overdesign.

    A famous piece of wisdom from within the engineering profession, best offered in a Britsih accent, is that a good engineer is a bloke who can do for a quid what any tosser can do for a fiver.

  4. Good One EScotty , to which I will add an old fav ,which seems to apply to the CRC ,
    ‘Good , Fast and Cheap , Pick 2’

  5. Well a big thank you to Chris Girard!!!! At the Independent Review Panel the CRC stated that 80% of the information would be able to be used if a new study was required….. that is not exactly starting over. The need to stop the current process because we don’t need the lawsuits is very important….. If restarted correctly the process can have a different outcome before Spring….. with us still meeting funding deadlines…..
    I believe that an alternative to CRC can be started right now by the public… much of the data needed can be found in other studies…..
    No Build is not no ACTION…. and a couple of alternatives with good reasons why some are not listed to go forward can put us on the right track……. I’m interested in doing this… anyone else….
    love to hear from you either way….
    For us we are focused on the economy, safety, and environment. Removing the Designated Freight and hazardous material out of several neighborhoods in Oregon and Washington as well as connection our ports and industrial areas on one freeway to I-5……. yep!!!!! it is getting closer day by day……
    The first bike and ped to our industrial areas and ports in the nation…..

  6. How about we just take the $10 billion and split it between banks, the construction/engineering industry, and residents of Clark County. No need to waste good concrete.

  7. WashDOT for sure is overbuilding this thing just like they’ve done on their Seattle area mega-projects. In 2000, when Seattle’s initial light rail 1st Phase went over-budget, WashDOT charged in like highway robbers demanding $100 billion dollars NOW, starting with widening I-405 of course; put off for later the maintenance, repair and desparately needed safety upgrades to existing state highways.

    I have to blame Portland’s Port Authority and trucking and commercial interests for pulling strings on the design. Hayden Island residents and the Audobon Society oppose a marine terminal on the west side. The ramps right off I-5 onto Hayden Island are industrial grade but not a good design for such a facility. The heavy truck traffic through Hayden Island, the hard accelleration uphill entrance ramps onto I-5 and hard decelleration downhill ramp exits onto Hayden Island will permanently deter residential development.

    The off-island access proposal Concept #1 allows for NO ramps directly at I-5. Imagine that! Drive right on by. No worries about merging. Landscaped views buffer sound and sight of traffic. Access is from Marine Drive with the landing near Best Buy or on the east side of Home Depot. A nice slow exit/entrance onto Hayden Island that increases development potential and value by $100s of Millions for better residential build up with a sophisticated commercial center. Truckers can deal with it.

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