Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Funding and Bike/Ped Design on Oversight Team Agenda Thursday; Process now a Decade

Whether you parse the word as "supervision" or "neglect," or even a deliciously tart blend of the two, the Oversight Team now looks out over a decade-long process. (Or, as the sports world might say, "We're going to the third OT period!")

On Thursday the 11th they meet to look at "funding" and we should probably adjust our expectations. (Agenda here.)

Latest schedule delay - out to at least May 2016
from Dec 2014 Funding Workshop Presentation
The schedule already has been pushed out again. The plan for the terminus, the "record of decision," is plotted for May 2016.

No evidence
Regular readers will know why it's taking so long. Because the project offers no meaningful solutions. A strong solution that actually solved a well-identified problem would have attracted a consensus incorporating meaningful compromises by now. The elongated process is a clear sign the problem is poorly defined and the proposed solutions, including the "preferred alternative" of the Salem Alternative, are in search of an actual problem and themselves introduce a host of new problems.

Partisans for the bridge are able to cite very little in the way of facts or evidence, and instead cite a priori commitments, as well as feelings of being neglected. (The "second-class" nature of investment and facilities at WSHS, Straub MS, and Kalapuya Elementary would surprise many, I think!)

Original schedule from 2006 had
Record of Decision in early-2009!
Back in 2006 at the beginning, it was anticipated that a formal "record of decision" might be attained in early 2009. We've blown past that, and as the bars in the latest schedule for "Land Use Approval Process," "Financial Plan," and "TSP, TIP, and RTSP amendments" suggest, there is still quite a bit to do.

About December's funding workshop, a Task Force member tweets:
As everybody already knew, taxes and fees aren't very popular, and the least unpopular things don't generate enough to pay the projected debt service. It will be very interesting to see if the opinions from the funding workshops actually generate novel solutions.

Probably it just boils down to Magic Funding Fairy Dust.

(And so we circle round in a kind of Ouroboric Boondoggularity. From a largely "no new taxes" perspective, N3B has much more on the absurdity.)

Existing barriers in red
will be exacerbated, not solved
 by a new bridge
The Oversight Team will also hear about "Design refinements for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities." No details on them are out yet, but it will be interesting to see how substantial they are.

Since the project itself will in general harm system connectivity for people on foot and on bike, it is almost certain these will be cosmetic at best.

The Oversight Team meets at 11am on Thursday the 11th at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Bar Andaluz and Table Five 08.


Oh yeah...earthquake! "Oregon is so far behind..." We need to reinforce the existing bridges first.

So far behind

Couple more items...

Remember the study commissioned on the CRC by the State Treasurer, Ted Wheeler?

It recommend assuming the "projected annual gross toll revenues will be somewhere between 15% to 25% lower than the baseline forecast..."

And, son of a gun, the SR 520 bridge has a 30% reduction in traffic volumes (and presumably a corresponding reduction in revenues)!

Tolls by themselves would solve our congestion problems
without building a new bridge and highway
Funding workshop presentation
Word on the street is that the funding tool assumes bridge traffic grows at "a constant rate of 1.97% between 2015 and 2035."

Little, if any, empirical data supports this assumption.

What kind of "oversight" is that?


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added a couple of bits this afternoon and evening.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And here's a Wall Street Journal piece on private toll infrastructure and bankruptcies.

"The Beach Express bridge, in Orange Beach, Ala., served 2.3 million vehicles last year. Its owner, American Roads LLC, couldn't meet debt obligations and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this July."


"Many investors paid too much, based on the notion that tolls provided a reliable income stream and that toll revenue would only increase as Americans drove more miles."

There's a consistent pattern of over-estimating trip counts and therefore toll revenues.

I think there are also international examples as well as less dramatic failures of "mere" underperformance instead of utter bankruptcy.