Can the CRC Pay its Way in Tolls? Only in a Pipedream?

Apparently, the answer is “no one knows.”

The Oregonian’s Jeff Manning digs into the consultants’ reports and finds the interesting conclusion that:

“None of these models… was specifically developed for evaluating tolling applications, and therefore all of them lack to varying degree one or more of modeling features essential for road pricing analyses.” .

Washington’s State Treasurer Jim McIntire has also expressed concern:

For the CRC to pay that ever-increasing debt service, it is counting on significant traffic growth and escalating tolls. The CRC’s initial plan called for increasing the toll 2.5 percent every year for the 30-year life of the bonds.

McIntire doesn’t like this aspect of the plan either, saying that annual toll hikes may not be politically feasible.

“I would argue that it’s a pipedream,” McIntire said last week. “I think we need to be upfront with people. We need level debt service and level tolls.”

Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler is scheduled to brief Governor Kitzhaber tomorrow. I wonder what he’ll be saying?

Apparently one thing the $130M in planning so far hasn’t paid for is an investment grade toll analysis…

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