It happens there's a big sports event this weekend, and what Council is asked to do is not so much to evaluate certainties, as it is to evaluate a wager. Sports betting is in many ways a good lens through which to consider the SRC.
- Is the SRC and its Preferred Alternative a good bet? Are its predicted outcomes a good bet? It is a good bet to come in at or near budget?
- Are there other, better bets out there for meeting some of its stated goals?
- How much of your own money would you be willing to bet on any these?
This should not surprise us. Very large projects fail most often. Bent Flyvbjerg is probably the world's authority on them, and he has identified a great number of problems with them. We see many of these problems here.
|Megaproject expert Bent Flyvbjerg in the New Yorker|
|10 Characteristics of Megaprojects in his|
Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management
The traffic modeling on which the merits of the SRC is based erases any margin of error or uncertainty. If instead we consider realistic levels of uncertainty for any 20 year forecast, there is no difference between No Build and the Preferred Alternative. It is within any reasonable margin of error. Any meaningful reduction in congestion is not a good bet.
The effects of tolling are minimized and not carried through the analysis. There is reason to think that tolling, and not constructing the SRC, is actually the good bet.
The effects of induced demand are also minimized and not analyzed. They are merely swagged. This is a hope and a guess rather than a good bet.
The example of Mission Street between 12th and 25th shows us urban disruption and costs we may later come to regret once the SRC is built.
The large extent of "Category 4" soils and liquefaction hazard, the framework of a per unit cost estimate, and ODOT's extensive history of cost overruns together suggest the current cost estimate is not a good bet.
The admission by the Q & A authors that writing the document was daunting suggests the information in the whole DEIS may not be very reliable. Basing decisions on the DEIS increasingly does not look a very good bet. At the very least, the way it was used in the fall of 2016 required simplifications and distortions that now render some of the claims not a very good bet.
So what about the SRC is a good bet?
When you go down the list of claims for the SRC, time and time again you find that the SRC team and SRC proponents understate or erase uncertainty, or use poor analysis in order to create unwarranted certainty. They want you to think it's a good bet.
But if it were such a good bet, its advocates could be more forthright about the underlying sources of uncertainty and there would be more clarity and strength about its positive outcomes.
|The Iron Law of Megaprojects from the Handbook:|
"over budget, over time, under benefits"
The SRC is not a good bet and Council should adopt a resolution calling for a No Build Record of Decision.