Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The SRC has a new Project that Ramps up the Boondoggularity

There will be more to say later on this later in the week, but in the meeting packet for our MPO meeting next week, there's a draft the new "unified planning work program," basically what the MPO is going to do in the next year.

The Preferred Alternative won't fix congestion
And buried in that "unified planning work program" is new project - at least a project I haven't seen before - "Alternative Mobility Targets":
In the SKATS area, analysis for the Salem River Crossing Study and EIS show multiple locations in the study area where v/c ratios exceed the mobility standards in the base year conditions. The analysis also shows that with the proposed changes in the Preferred Alternative there will be locations where forecasted traffic conditions in year 2035 will exceed the mobility targets. It will be required that ODOT do a performance assessment and bring to the OTC a package that demonstrates the need to establish alternative mobility targets. [italics added]
Why is this interesting? One shortcoming of the proposed Third Bridge that has been highlighted several times by others is that even after we spend $500 million - or more likely a billion after cost-overruns and inflation - and if you also accept the traffic modeling assumptions, the project still doesn't actually reduce congestion all that much!

Using its own assumptions, in crucial ways the Preferred Alternative doesn't actually solve the problems it sets out to solve.

This new "Alternative Mobility Targets" project represents official acceptance of this failure. And it will be a new contract or change order for the consultants.

This is another reason for Council in Council Goals to pull the plug. The Third Bridge is a boondoggle, and this "Alternative Mobility Targets" project is indirect recognition of this fact.

(See No Third Bridge for more on the Council Goals work session tonight.)

Update, Feb 19th

Well, lookie here! A new guest opinion:

Final Fantasy!
N3B has already rebutted several points:
"While the federally mandated process has taken years to complete, we are nearing the end."

NOT TRUE: The planning began in 2006 and is not scheduled to end until towards the end of 2016. The project has not even begun to seek an expansion of the Salem-Keizer Urban Growth Boundary, something the Department of Land Conservation and Development has signaled they are unlikely to support. In the meantime we are paying an out-of-state consulting firm an average of about $58,000 a month of our tax dollars to continue this boondoggle.

"Projections continue to show another 40 percent increase in traffic on the existing bridges between now and 2035."

NOT TRUE: Those projections are unreal. In 2014 preliminary figures show that Average Daily Traffic on our existing bridges was 86,562. That is LESS than Average Daily Traffic a decade earlier of 86,728 (2005). In fact bridge traffic has been essentially flat since 1995. Don't believe the bogus projections. There is no evidence for them.

"As governments look to make buildings and bridges resilient against disasters, our planning now will improve the efficiency of our transportation system ..."

NOT TRUE: Instead of planning to make the Marion and Street Bridges resilient, our elected officials have wasted over $7 million in planning a new bridge that would be built through an earthquake liquefaction zone. Nothing has been done to plan for retrofitting our existing bridges which ODOT says will collapse in the next Cascade megaquake.

"Adding lanes to the existing bridges ... simply won't reduce the downtown congestion ..."

NOT TRUE: Alternative 2A in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that adds three lanes to the existing bridges would do more to relieve downtown traffic congestion than building a new bridge a mile to the north, and at less than half the cost.

"We were required to estimate how to pay for it, citing actual experience in funding other current projects in Oregon (such as Sellwood Bridge and Sauvie Island Bridge), learning that likely the $430 million total project cost will require future voter approval for local contribution (50 percent) and state and federal gas tax funding (25 percent each)."

NOT TRUE: The ODOT representative to the Oversight Team said in December to expect no more than $50 million of the $430 million cost to come from state and federal sources. That's 12%, not 50%. The Sellwood Bridge project has only received 23% non-local funding.

"Our legacy to voters and officials in the future is to plan for it and set the table for these very important decisions."

NOT TRUE: Your legacy will be that you were among the elected officials who wasted millions of dollars over a decade to plan a flawed bridge project that was never built. The Salem River Crossing is no different than the Columbia River Crossing in being destined to go down in history as a huge waste of our tax dollars that could have been put to better use.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with today's op-ed piece and N3B response

Walker said...

Fund Fixes First!