Friday, January 13, 2012

A Green Tea Alliance: Populists Left and Right Unite to Question MegaProjects

In a fascinating thickening of the psychic aether, simultaneously in Salem and in Portland, groups thought to be antithetical have temporarily united and announced coalitions to question large, speculative infrastructure projects.

Salem Weekly writes about expansion at the airport:
In an unusual alliance, a Marion County “Tea Party” group and progressive activists have both questioned a proposed $11 million expansion of Salem’s Municipal Airport. They’ve combined forces to write a letter to the Salem City Council asking questions about the project and requesting a reply.
Their letter leads with the indisputable fact of a consistent pattern of failure:
With three failed airline ventures, what has recently changed that would justify the City of Salem’s plans to use FAA funds and Connect Oregon II Lottery funds for runway expansion and other upgrades to the airport. Please provide a market analysis and documentation, grant applications, and supporting documents justifying your claims for your proposed expansion. Also please provide supporting data, letters of intent from specific air freight companies who are actively considering coming to the Salem Airport.
That's a project measured in the low 10s of Millions of dollars.

In Portland, folks are facing a project measured in low Billions.

From the Portland Mercury yesterday:
Influential individuals across the political spectrum met this morning on the sunny, frigid banks of the Columbia near the Vancouver base of the hulking I-5 bridge to discuss the one thing they can all agree on: The Columbia River Crossing (CRC) plan to replace the bridge is flawed and should not be funded.

The Oregon legislature's oversight committee begins meeting next week and people ranging from Metro Councilor Carl Hosticka to State Representative Lew Frederick to free-market think tank Cascade Policy Institute's John Charles all say the committee should not authorize spending more money on the bridge plan until more alternatives are examined and a solid funding plan is secured.

"Please stop the bleeding," said Councilor Hosticka. "At a time when the state highway department is laying people off, it's a bad idea to keep spending over a million dollars a month on a project that may never get built. After six years of trying, there is not yet any assured funding from any source."

"The current finance plan is a disaster waiting to happen for the taxpayers of Oregon," said Plaid Pantry President Chris Girard.
This is a fascinating development, and may have implications, too, for Salem's own $500 Million project.

Stay tuned! Things are getting interesting.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Salem Weekl has an update from 3/22:

"In early January AFP says they were told by City Manager Linda Norris’s office that the number and depth of their questions meant that significant staff time and resources would be needed to answer them. The city requested AFP pay more than $700 (staff is billed at $74.57 an hour) to cover the work involved....

[After calls from City Councilors and an Oregon Legislator] AFP received its answers on Friday, February 24, three days before the City Council meeting in which the vote on proceeding with the airport plan was to take place. The documents answered all but two questions. and stated the answers could be obtained for $298.28....

AFP has not decided whether or not to pay for answers to its two remaining questions."