Archive | Willamette Shoreline

LO Streetcar project “suspended”

Allan got here first in the the open thread, but The Oregonian is reporting that the Lake Oswego/Portland transit project has been “suspended”. Last night, the Lake Oswego city council indicated that they would not support the project, and Portland mayor Sam Adams announced this morning that the project was being suspended. Adams indicated that going forward, the city of Portland would focus more on implementing the Streetcar System Plan, which the LO/Portland project predates.

The Non-intuitive Math of the Lake Oswego Streetcar

This morning the Oregonian editorialized against further development of the Lake Oswego to Portland streetcar project, citing the cost. That’s the new cost estimate of $208M (not including the value of the right-of-way we already own), not the $400M+ estimate that came out of the last round of the NEPA process.

Without getting into an argument about whether the project is a good idea or not (we’ve done that before, multiple times), I do want to take a moment to explain the math that keeps local policymakers intrigued.

Let’s assume for the moment that both numbers above ($208M construction plus $80M right-of-way) are accurate.

That gives us a total project “cost” (by the Federal way of reckoning) of $288M. Assuming a successful New Starts application, the Feds cough up half, leaving the locals with a $144M tab.

But wait! We get to count the value of the right-of-way toward the match – so suddenly for $64M in local cash, we can potentially have a $288M transit line.

There are still a lot of hoops that this project has to jump through, but that value proposition will continue to compel local electeds to look for ways to get through those hoops.

LO Streetcar “on hold” until 2012:

Clackamas County board of commissioners vote to place LO Streetcar “on hold” until 2012.
From The Oregonian:

The controversial, $458 million Lake Oswego to Portland streetcar project appears to be on hold to allow the project team time to respond to a series of questions and concerns from the two cities.

At the request of Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman, Clackamas County commissioners this morning postponed until early 2012 a resolution that would have offered the board’s conditional support to the streetcar recommendation. Hoffman said he spoke with Portland Mayor Sam Adams earlier this morning and the two planned to send Clackamas County and other project partners a letter in coming days.

Full story here.

UPDATE: LO City council conditionally approves LO Transit project

Lake Oswego City Council meeting to decide on LO Transit project.

The Lake Oswego City Council has voted 4-3 to move the LO Transit project forward with conditions. Yea votes were Mayor Hoffman, Council President Tierney, Councilor Jordan, and Councilor Moncrieff. Nay votes were Councilors Kehoe, Gudman, and Olsen. Also approved was a resolution to have an advisory vote on the ballot by May 2012.

Tonight, at 6PM, the Lake Oswego City Council will meet to consider (among other business) the Lake Oswego Transit project. Agenda here, full meeting packet here, recorded citizen comments here, here, here, and here.

The proceedings can be watched online here.

The Oregonian article on the Lake Oswego streetcar

Oregonian front page article on the Lake Oswego transit project.

[updated with some additional info]

This morning’s Oregonian has a front page article on the Lake Oswego transit project. The article mainly focuses on the funding and politics associated with the project:

  • The article notes the presence of significant organized opposition from Dunthorpe residents, including former senator Bob Packwood, and Multnomah County commissioner Deborah Kafoury.
  • The article discusses the price tag in detail. Project supporters may object to the article’s headline (“Is $458 million streetcar worth it”); the article breaks down the costs and funding sources–including the Willamette Shoreline ROW and some other publicly-owned properties whose value will be considered for a federal match. Open questions include how much value the land will be appraised at for matching purposes (opponents of the project are hoping the federal match will be lower; in order to make the local contribution unaffordable), and whether a 60% match is likely. The project cost is well below the $1 billion cutoff for a 60% match (this is why Milwaukie MAX to only get 50%); and there’s some concern that the federal New Starts program might not view a streetcar project as within its scope. (Metro expects a 60% match).
  • The relationship between the project and developer Williams/Dame & White, who are developing the proposed Foothills project in Lake Oswego, which would anchor the line, are examined.
  • Next steps in the project: The city of Lake Oswego will vote on the project on April 19, in what is expected to be a close vote; Portland will vote on it on the 20th, where it is expected to easily pass.

Also, the City of West Linn wants in on the project, citing concerns about the project affecting West Linn bus commuters on the 35 (who would be forced to transfer once the project is completed), and of potential future traffic impacts. The city of West Linn is not calling for the project to be shelved–one of their concerns is making sure that a future extension south is not foreclosed–but wants to have input on the project’s development.