TriMet board votes to fund construction of first stage of MLR, and authorize bonding of payroll tax revenues to finance project
Updates to come throughout the day… but the bottom line is that the TriMet board today approved a $127 million contract to start building the “Caruthers Crossing” bridge, a key component (and first step) of the Milwaukie MAX project.
Lots of heated testimony, as lots of people came to weigh in. Quite a few Milwaukie business owners testified in favor; and quite a few folks from OPAL, ATU757, and other community members opposed. Regular PT reader Cameron Johnson gave an impassioned speech against, which is here.
Also, the board voted in favor of one of the more controversial parts of the project, the proposal to commit future payroll tax revenues in order to back a $63 million bond. Neal McFarlane answered in the affirmative when asked (by a board member) if he is comfortable with the financials on this. (Ed: It would be nice if more data could be shared, so that we could be more comfortable with this–right now, the narrative that this is all pork-barrel politics seems to have a whole lot of traction).
Both votes were unanimous in favor.
In other news, the family of one of the victims of the April accident where a bus ran down five pedestrians, killing two, has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the agency. And the board also voted to ban electric cigarettes from TriMet vehicles, and limit the definition of “service animal”.
Thanks to Joseph Rose, Michael Anderson, and Cameron for covering the meeting on twitter this morning.
UPDATE: First press coverage, from Jim Reddin of the Portland Tribune, here. One obvious issue with the Tribune article is it paints MLR opposition as mainly coming from ATU 757 members who would rather have the funds spent on their compensation and benefits–when in fact, there were many other factions present in opposition.
UPDATE 2: Oregonian press coverage of the lawsuit. In addition to TriMet, other named defendents include former GM Fred Hansen, New Flyer (the manufacturer of the bus involved), and Hadley Products, who manufactured the mirror which it is claimed blocked driver Sandi Day’s view. The $20 million award requested by plaintiffs is well in excess of the liability cap for public agencies according to Oregon law ($100k for pain/suffering plus $100k for economic damages). Another lawsuit against TriMet, filed by a woman injured in an unrelated accident, seeks to lift the cap using the landmark 2007 ruling against OHSU as precedent.