Metro weighs in on CRC phasing

At yesterday’s CRC work session, which as Chris noted was intended to be about issuing a Land Use Final Order, instead got diverted to the subject of financing, and in particular, the subject of phasing the CRC project which was suggested last week by The Oregonian

Bottom line: The Metro council wasn’t keen on the idea, as the project FEIS is about to be published–and it only includes one phasing option. In this phasing propsal, most of the project would be completed, including the entirety of the bridge itself, the Yellow Line extension to Clark College, and most of the interchange work on I-5 in the ‘Couv. In phase 2 a few additional ramp improvements are built. Needless to say, this phasing would do little to improve the financial situation of the project.

Any other phasing proposals, it was pointed out, would require the FEIS to be modified, and likely cost many more years and dollars beyond the $130 million or so already spent on public relationsanalysis and design. (When phased projects are built, federal regulations require that each phase have “independent utility”, so that if succeeding phases are cancelled, the public isn’t stuck with a white elephant, and so public officials don’t go and do the least important parts first, knowing they are more likely to get the whole thing done than if they do the most important parts first. At least, in theory).

Given the present political situation in Washington, its somewhat understandable that local leaders seem eager to get a deal done, any deal, lest a mood of national austerity result in the money hose being shut off. (Of course, if there’s a default, all bets may well be off). But as we’re also finding in DC–while deadlines may result in deals getting done, they don’t often result in good ones.

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