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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

New tram tab: $55 million -- or maybe more

The city's new experts on the OHSU Medical Group aerial tram [rim shot] have come up with a new budget for the project -- $55 million, up from the $45 million circulating late in 2005 and of course, now nearly four times the original "budget" of $15.5 million.

And it could get worse. The price will be even higher, according to the experts, if the project runs too late or some other unfortunate occurrences come to pass. Read all about it in their "risk assessment report" -- there's a comforting title, eh? It's here.

If anyone on the Portland City Council votes to put an additional nickel of city money into this thing, they deserve to be removed from office. Mayor Potter, do you really want our "vision" of Portland? It's a place where the people who are taking our tax dollars (and asking us to vote for more) know when to say enough is enough. The project is 35 percent complete. It's not too late to pull the plug.

Comments (72)

I say we toss out anybody who voted for the tram unless they succeed in canceling the project. How much is our reputation as a city worth? I’d also like to see a Security Risk Assessment of what it would take to bring this down, if someone out there wanted to do us harm. I know we live in a loving, caring world right now, but remember, things could change.

This is pretty alarming, from the report:

Contract Liability

We suggest a legal review of the City’s contracts with Kiewit and Doppelmayr, the intergovernmental agreement between OHSU and the City, and the Development Agreement for the South Waterfront project. This would ensure that all parties are fulfilling their contract obligations and would determine if there are opportunities for improved delivery of the Tram project to help avoid any contractual liabilities.

You mean, this hasn't been done yet? Gross negligence!

I still don't see, in the contract provisions that I've read, where the city is irrevocably committed to following this boondoggle through. Maybe someone can point me to it.

How much is our reputation as a city worth?

Can't wait for the Doonesbury cartoons on this one. Laughingstock of the world.

My, CTLH is really surprised by this news. Fred Leeson is writing tomorrows Oregonian Tram article. After reading the Risk Assessment Report it will be interesting to see the Councils, PDC, PDOT's spin on this.

Our NM URAC Committee in Dec. asked for a full life-cycle cost analysis for the tram. Todays report is not what we asked for. This report is only for the immediate hard costs. With this new number the life-cycle costs also goes up from a projected 216M to ?

Even the report's hard costs do not included many factors at $55M. It excludes: all of the different bureau staff time; design competition costs; architectural/engineering costs; only a 10% contigency (which is absurb for a project of this kind); elimination of the lower tram shelter; no pedestrian bridge over I-5; reduction of landscaping; elimination of cladding'features in the upper terminal; the list goes on.

All of these eliminations/modifications and the price is still not guaranteed at $55M. The report lists 13 (scary number) additional "risk factors" that can affect the final costs. The city told CTLH in the beginning $8.5M for the tram, now they are sayng at least $55M-six and 1/2 times price increase and growing,plus its a stripped down Yugo.

The report says it's 35% completeted (material fabrication included) and says: "easily overshadowing its earlier history of budget and scheduling probelms". What does the report mean by that??-the budget and scheduling problems are still a problem! The report continues with; "the project is too far along now to stop or even slow down." Should a report of this nature be giving this kind of analysis, let the Council, PDC and the PUBLIC determine if it should be stopped or slowed down.

Additonally, we have the issue of the pedestrian bridge over i-5. The NM PDC budget was initially $1.6M, now its at $5M-just following in the footsteps of the tram.

Where is there common sense?

It went out the window when Neil Goldschmidt called Vera Katz and told her that this had to be done.

As much as you despise anything associated with city council, it's sounding like there aren't the votes to approve an increase in the city's share. Saltzman and Leonard are opposed, and Adams is sounding equally adamant about the money coming from elsewhere--like, obviously, OHSU.

At any rate, we stuck this story up about an hour ago: http://forums.portlandmercury.com/showthread.php?t=991

As much as you despise anything associated with city council

Not true, friend. Read the comments policy. This post was not about me.

Hang the expense! Oh, wait. They're doing that.

The city should offer this whole goofball project to OHSU lock, stock and barrel. If they don't want it, it should be terminated, end of story.

Didn't mean to violate any rules, and that wasn't meant to be a slam on you.

No problem, Scott. Appreciate your comment. I'm a little touchy about being mischaracterized lately. The other day it was "You never saw a tax you didn't like."

$55 million, and no snow making equipment?

We were robbed!

I don't know what crackpot scheme the City Council will come up with next. Maybe Erik Sten will decide that Portland needs its own "rocket-launching platform" in case we need to go to the moon in a hurry.

Now, that the income tax is available to the City Council, cost overruns are not really relevant. Have they ever been relevant to the Defense Dept.?

If the doctors up at OHSU are having a hard time making their Wednesday golf appointments, due to parking problems, then I say the sky's the limit. Let's build a tram!

Breaking news from the Big O:

Consultant firm Pinnell/Busch said in a report released Wednesday that the tram's cost has jumped by 20 percent since Commissioner Sam Adams announced the last price increase three months ago.

Even with the rising costs, the consultant says the upper station at Oregon Health & Science University may not protect riders enough from wind and rain and could be difficult for people with a fear of heights. The station could be designed in a way that creates difficulty in managing crowds, the counsultant says, and its design may force tram cars to slow down so much that they can't keep up with the riders.

Great: $55 million bucks and you have to use your umbrella while you wait in line.

Read the report. Some people aren't going to ride the tram because the goofy design it's got will make them fear for their lives. I wish I were making this up.

I'm watching the Blazer's hold their own against the Spurs and the News Ch 8 teaser just highlighted the TRAM fiasco for it's 11 pm broadcast.

Patrick B. you are exactly right! As I said in a note to Jack's STEN-cell research, as much as school funding pulls the heartstrings, giving the City the power to tax personal income is opening up a Pandora's Box of horrors. It's sort of like America surrendering the Fourth Amendment just because Bush decides he needs to spy on Americans for our own good.

Jack, you're a Jersey guy. You must be familiar with New York City's history with city income taxes. If I had been elected Mayor in 2004, this issue wouldn't have gone this far, and I wouldn't be declaring a City Income Tax as a solution. There are all kinds of bad medicine in the cabinet that can be taken--bonds, across the board budget cuts, etc. They just require a certain healthy pair of organs to take.

You are right about the gross negligence comment. Every vote for this amount of expense should require a detailed budget with contingency analysis and a formal position statement, so City Council can't back peddle when things go wrong. I'll support such a resolution if I'm elected to City Hall.

One more comment. I was wondering why Potter & The Gang had their big gathering to discuss the budget last night with Portlanders while the President (ah-hem) of the United States was giving the State of the Union address. Did they know this report would break today?

The mayor put out an announcement yesterday that there would be a news conference today with the bad news. I'm sure he had seen the report by then.

To all OHSU Employees:

2006 will be a year of milestones in OHSU’s construction and expansion efforts. From time to time in the coming months, the OHSU leadership team will be providing updates to the community on our progress, challenges and achievements.

Steve Stadum
Chief Administrative Officer

Construction Update - Feb. 1, 2006

Portland Aerial Tram Project Assessment Says Delay Biggest Risk

Today the Portland Development Commission (PDC) released an assessment of the Portland Aerial Tram project, finding that delay poses the greatest risk for increased costs in the construction of the Portland Aerial Tram, and that the challenges of this one-of-a-kind project can be overcome with strong city oversight and management.

The PDC report puts a new estimate on the overall cost of the tram: $50 million with an additional $5 million contingency. OHSU will carefully review the assumptions that lead to this estimate, and will continue to carefully track the costs of this city-managed construction project.

We remain focused on the vision at the other end of the tram construction. The tram will connect the OHSU Hospital expansion on Marquam Hill to the Center for Health & Healing in the South Waterfront and link our research, healing and teaching missions so we can bring the smartest treatments and innovations to more patients.

In the coming weeks we will finally be able see more visible signs of the city's progress on the tram. Already, excavation is complete at all three tram construction sites. Drilled shafts are complete at the lower station, and almost complete at the tower site and upper station. The foundation has been poured at the lower station and the first third of the foundation, which will be 10 feet thick, will be poured at the upper station this Saturday. Fabrication of steel for the tower and upper station is underway and tram equipment in Switzerland will soon be ready to ship to the United States.

We understand that this is a challenging time to keep track of all the developments occurring with the Portland Aerial Tram and continue to encourage your questions and feedback, which may be sent to empcomm@ohsu.edu

Campus Drive Closures Will Expedite Construction

After careful weighing of potential costs, OHSU has agreed to assist the City in expediting construction of the Portland Aerial Tram by closing a portion of Campus Drive to private vehicles effective Sunday, Feb. 5.

During the initial phase of this closure, currently expected to last until the beginning of April, buses and emergency vehicles will continue to be able to use Campus Drive. Once the next phase of tram construction begins, the affected portion of the road will be closed completely. Additional information on this closure is available on the OHSU construction Web site at: http://www.ohsu.edu/construction/pages/news_06.html

OHSU Facilities Management and Construction will provide advance information about the next phase in a future message. This closure will affect many employees, patients and visitors to OHSU, and we encourage your feedback about any specific concerns or problems. E-mail building@ohsu.edu

OHSU will carefully review the assumptions that lead to this estimate, and will continue to carefully track the costs of this city-managed construction project.

The gloves are coming off. It's time for the hardball between the city and the rich docs that should have been played long before the Tram Debacle was commenced.

Fireman Randy's got the right idea. Their women's health club and private doctors' office building is built now -- they're not going to Hillsboro. Let them take the tram off the city's hands and make it the private ski lift that it should be. Not another single penny from the city!

>> No problem, Scott. Appreciate your comment.
>> I'm a little touchy about being mischaracterized
>>lately. The other day it was "You never saw a tax
>>you didn't like."
>>Posted by: Jack Bog at February 1, 2006 06:22 PM

The problem is, Jack, is that the above statement made about you, however personal, was BLOODY TRUE !!!

At least you have it right on this tram deal though. Now if we could only bring you to your senses on the schools issue, we'd be in business....

Some people aren't going to ride the tram because the goofy design it's got will make them fear for their lives.

Six Flags Marquam Hill.

The problem is, Jack, is that the above statement made about you, however personal, was BLOODY TRUE !!!

It's not. I've b*tched about the urban renewal property tax here several times, and I actively opposed Measure 30, the state income tax surcharge, despite ostracism from my lefty pals. Do your homework -- click on the Taxes tab in my archives.

Six Flags Marquam Hill.

He he! OHSU Space Mountain. Or how about Kohlerland?

I wonder about the future value of two pieces of research commissioned by ODOT to the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure & Transportation (OSU).

129K for "State Planning and Research, Establishing Guidelines for Incentive/Disincentive Contracting at ODOT"

110K for "Alternatives to Liquidated Damages for Ensuring Project Performance"


A sure way to incentivize folks (contractor and public alike) is assure them that a "Risk Assessment" such as that offered today will always be exactly like that sought by the Captain of the Titanic, full steam ahead, faster, faster so that we can outrun the icebergs (the opposition) and get our name in the record books.

I would, however, object to the payment by the City of Portland Auditor's office for this "Risk Assessment" that begins "The Portland Aerial Tram, when complete, will be a dramatic, one-of-a-kind facility that will become a Portland landmark -- easily overshadowing . . ."

"""""I still don't see, in the contract provisions that I've read, where the city is irrevocably committed to following this boondoggle through.""""""

They may be found in the SoWa development agreements. If they exist.

What if they offered Tram bungee jumping on weekends? Fee reduced to Portland Taxpayers, of course (proof of bruised wallet required).

A "100 meter high club" Party Tram on Wednesday nights? Fondue rides (with authentic Suisse Raclette). Work with me guys, I'm grasping at straws.

What would it take to get you cynics and naysayers on board? Cash money?

They may be found in the SoWa development agreements. If they exist.

Here. But I don't see in there a contractual commitment by the city to provide an operating tram by X date.

And even if it's in there somewhere, is it enforceable? Can a past City Council enter into a contract that forces the current City Council to appropriate funds? Sounds fishy to my untrained ear. Isaac?

Or how about Kohlerland?

Dr. Kohler's Wild Ride

The uphill cars can be called "tax burden," and the downhill ones "credit rating."

Why would they let PDOT coordinate two general contractors (Kiewit and Doppelmayr) when PDOT has no experiencing building trams, tram stations, or tram towers?

They might as well have outsourced it to Six Flags, Disneyworld or Sea World: at least they've managed tram construction projects before. There's probably even a few ski resorts in the U.S. or Canada that have more experience than PDOT. This is much more ambitious than the Burside Couplet, or the floating boardwalk of death.

Perhaps I don't understand the role of PATI in construction management and contractor oversight.

I believe the mayor is currently relegating PATI (a corporate entity mostly run by the OHSU and developer interests, at least until last month) back to an advisory role. But before Mr. Goldschmidt had his little problem and Mr. Gragg took off for Harvard, PATI ran the tram "design competition" (Mrs. Goldschmidt was one of the judges, I believe) that distracted the public from the fact that the stated budget for the project was misleading at best, or knowingly false at worst.

PATI is loosely modeled after a similar group that currently runs the Portland streetcar, while city and Tri-Met taxpayers pay for it. Very cozy. Vintage Neil.

How about a bar on the tram?

This just gets better and better...Is this the first time they have acknowledged the need for a robust back-up system, ready to go at a moments notice. Mmmmm...Maybe there's a new Max Line in the cards.

One of seven "items identified for concern" include:

The need for surface transportation when the tram is out of service for maintenance, bad weather, or other reasons. This should include plans for rapid implementation in response to unexpected Tram shutdowns, availability of drivers, route desginations, parking, drop-off points, etc.

If they're going to have a whole shuttle bus fleet on call on a moment's notice anyway, why not kill the tram and just rely on that? It's the strangest deal I've ever heard. And like everything else around here, I'm sure we're hearing only about half of it.

Forget the tram. How about a trampoline? A big one! They can just bounce and launch themselves up the hill.

The only suitable backup is a second tram system.

Can we call the Back-up Tram the BUTTram?

Maybe it would make more sense to have a dirigible, or helocopters? That way we don't burden those SoWhat neighbors with traffic and emissions.

"Six Flags Marquam Hill"

That I like. Aside from the burden on the taxpayers of Portland, just exactly how is OHSU affording to pay for this e-ticket ride?

"""The only suitable backup is a second tram system.""""

Don't laugh about that.
There was talk of another Tram.

Steve Schopp - huh? Please enlighten...

If they're going to have a whole shuttle bus fleet on call on a moment's notice anyway, why not kill the tram and just rely on that?

How Six Flags would that be? Think of the children!

I know we're all peeved about the tram [rimshot] and it's magical tripling, but isn't the linchpin [ahem] to the whole issue the SoWhat subsidies? I mean, the tram [rimshot] is a landmark and lightning rod for our ire, but for me it's not what I'm mad about.

I laugh about the hand-shaped tram (I love the notion that it would be shaped like, rather than by, hand). I cry about the city-orchestrated development process and the hundreds of millions we're giving away in the first place (e.g. OHSU won't pay any property taxes on their buildings as I recall...). There were many developers in the 90's who wanted to bring the waterfront to life, but, per Sten, "We have the power to stop this."

The O keeps saying SoWhat would be a Nutria-only environment, but if the city had kept its snout out of private developers business, they would have extorted, er, extracted major systems development charges, greenspace concessions, and a permanent property tax base. But their arrogance and ego got in the way and they, with Vera Katz the primary culprit, decided they knew better. So they gave away (someone mentioned Goldschmidt?) tax abatements, stifled private investment, detaxed large chunks of what would have been taxable land (because they sold to a government entity), and of course, bought the tram.

How shortsighted do you have to be to run City Hall? I don't know, perhaps they can only see the checks they're given. But I don't believe that. I don't think they're motivated by campaign donations. I think very few people are (primarily) motivated by campaign donations. I think they're motivated by legacy. It takes a very humble person to want to go to City Hall, make things better for the city and "Leave No Trace" of your involvement.

I think we need that kind of leadership, and unfortunately, by definition you almost never get it. It's the kind of leader I want to be. It's the kind of leader I think many people at least say they want.

Anyway, I think it's time for Erik and Dan to be removed from office. I hope you'll support me in my effort against Dan. He's just too entrenched to Vision for Portland as a whole.

Mmmm-nutria or the yupwardly mobile? It's a close call, but I think I prefer the nutria

Yes, there was indeed the discussion of a second Tram.
I ran across it in the minutes from either the URAC or Planning commission or ??.

At the time I forwarded it to various people and I believe Jack included.

If I remember the dialogue correctly it was a discussion about "tabling the second tram for now". Or something to that effect.

Good call, eh?

Yes, I see Mr. Stadum is still harping on the "city managed" line, even though we showed previously that the research he refers to provides no support for this line.

Much more likely, this was an insider's deal between OHSU, Peter Kohler, Homer Williams, and well placed bureaucrats in PDC and the City.

And no wonder Council is screaming, since it's their heads that are going to roll over this. Saltzman and Sten must be having a hard time sleeping.

Paul, you are so right. What we have here is a perfect storm, politically, to bounce these guys from office. We've got the tram, we've got the armory overbudget (haven't heard much on that one lately, in case you have some news to share, Jack), we've got city income tax, the downtown transit mall... Heads must roll.

However, I disagree about the fault resting with an insiders deal. That may be true, but City Council is totally gutless when it comes to sticking up for the common folk. They take these gambles because when they pay off, they are there for the ribbon cutting ceremony (envision that for the tram!), but if they keep a rec center open for kids in Lents, nobody is going to show up with a camera. And I've said this before, but Saltzman is a friggin engineer from MIT!!! No excuses, Dan, you should have known better. Opie Sten I expect as much from.

I think an increase in art funding on public projects at the same time that the city is asking for an income tax will also be a nice issue that will force out these clowns.... I can hear the ads already.

From today's Oregonian lead story on the matter:

"Warner, a civil engineer and former head of the Oregon Department of Transportation, hired the consultant with a $98,500 contract to secure an unbiased assessment and a firmer budget estimate.

The consultant also said the city and contractor Kiewit Pacific need more detailed and regular reviews of the costs, including a list of actual costs to date and estimated costs to finish."

OHSU spent $98,500 to be told they need "a list of actual costs to date and estimated costs to finish."

I just can't believe it. As they say in England, I'm just completely gobsmacked that nobody has a proper cost accounting of this project.

The "second tram" proposed by PDOT, and then tabled, would have run from Barbur Blvd to the hill to link into the SW tranportation network. City Council agreed not to pursue necessary condemnation to proceed with it at the time it approved the "first" tram.

The construction costs will continue to increase. In most projects of this scale, the cost overruns most often occur _during_ the construction phase.

Also, if it is built, look to increasing costs after the beginning of operation. It is, after all, a project of "vision" without much in terms of actual understanding of operational problems.

It is true, there is a second tram in the plans. PDOT,PDC realized from all the public comments in the years past that the tram being built now really doesn't work as a public transportation link. That is why the second tram at Barbur is on the table, so that all the bus lines running down Baarbur could transfer commuters to the tram and access pill hill.

We don't live in the City of Portland or Multnomah County, but after reading your comments have gone from a sense of anger to remorse. The citizens of your city put their trust and confidence in your elected officials and they have let you down. It is such a shame that you, your families and businesses are burdened with such a debt.

On The Three Rabbis, an OPB show a few months ago, one of them joked that the freeways made by clearing 'blighted' areas were anti-Semitic because so many synagogues were demolished by those urban renewal projects. Those areas are now recognized as having been affordable, colorful, Italian, Jewish, and maybe a couple of others I'm not aware of, neighborhoods.

To paraphrase that rabbi, I think the 'second tram' [does this need a *rim shot* too?] is/was also an anti-Semitic tram. It would have taken out the historic Sephardic synagogue, Ahavath Achim, on Barbur Blvd. That congregation was one of the ones forcefully moved from its NW Portland home by Urban Renewal in the 1950's.

So you see, Urban Renewal is still up to its old tricks. The screams of opponents to the 'second' tram were numerous and loud.

Also, opponents to the tram aren't just showing up here. A survey that ends tomorrow, I think, by the Portland Business Journal should give some PDX movers and shakers pause.

See it here: http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/poll/index.html?poll_id=510

Slightly flawed question/answer set (for the poll in the post above)in that it doesn't leave room for those who originally opposed the tram but support it now that the costs have gone up.

Why would PDC's Warner hire Pinnell/Busch as a consultant for "an unbiased report" as he states, then accept the report with glowing reports like;

"The Portland Aerial Tram, when completed will be a dramatic, one-of-a-kind facility that will become a Portland landmark..."

I've not seen a report of this nature, and contrary to what PDC requested, be so biased. That just continues the major problem of the TRAM issue-continue the Councils, PDC, PDOT, OHSU biases.

Also on page 8.5, the report refers to life cycle costs as only considering the hard costs and operation costs. Life-cycle costing should include several other factors, like financing, depreciation, maintenance, land, etc. If Pinnell/Busch, and PDC/PDOT thinks this report is a life-cycle cost analysis, and meets the NM URAC committee's request, that is totally false. I hope some respected economists reading this blog will comment on this.

OHSU's website claims their Tram has the capacity to transport 980 people/hour in each direction. I believe they are mistaken.

click here and then click on "About the Tram" to see the informatin summarized below:

Cars: Two 79-passenger cars,
Capacity: 980 people/hour in each direction
Speed & ride time: 22 miles/hour; 3 minutes
Frequency: Departs every 5 minutes at peak hours

Their numbers simply don't add up. They say the Tram will carry 79 passengers/car; simple math will tell you the Tram must carry 82 people and all 82 must disembark in one minute, leaving one minute for the next group of 82 to load up. Does that seem reasonable? Anybody every timed how long it takes to unload/load a crowded MAX car at rush hour?

A five minute cycle time includes a three minute ride, and two minutes in which to unload/load 79 passengers. If they unload and load (79 x 2) = 158 people on/off each car in two minutes, they have still overestimated their hourly/car capacity by 32 people.

Here's why. With 60 minutes to an hour divided by 5 minutes/cycle, you get (60 divided by 5 =) 12 trips per hour. Multiply 12 trips per hour by 79 people (12 x 79 =) you transport 948 people/hour per car. This is(980 - 948 =) 32 fewer people per hour/car than claimed by OHSU, or 980. If you multiply the "ghost passengers" by 2 cars -- one going up and one going down == (32 x 2 =) 64 fewer people per hour round trip. If they run at maximum capacity for 18 hours, that means (64 x 18 =) 1,152 fewer people that can be transported over 18 hours.

What if it takes 3 minutes to load/unload 158 people? 3 minute ride + 3 minute load & unload = 6 minute cycle time, or 10 trips per hour. In this scenario, the hourly capacity drops to 790 per hour/car (980 - 790 =) 190 fewer people per hour/car, or 190 x 2 = 380 people/hour for both cars. 380 x 18 = 6,840 fewer people over 18 hours at maximum capacity.

What if it takes 3.666 minutes (3 minutes 40 second) to load & unload 158 people? 9 trips per hour. In this scenario, the hourly capacity drops to 711 per hour/car or (980 - 711 =) 269 fewer people per hour/car, or 269 x 2 = 538 people/hour for both cars. 538 x 18 = 9,684 fewer people over 18 hours at maximum capacity. That's alot of people.

I am surprised they could get this far along and still publish bad data on their website. Call it a "Back of the envelope" design approach, or (hopefully) they simply haven't updated the website with correct capacity data.

Facts are stubborn things. Heaven forbid if they have to reduce the speed (for wind, vibration, or porr design), and the capacity would be further reduced.

Jack, This is not a cheap ploy to promote my blog. I am over that phase. In fact, you know where my blog is. I have found the CLASSIC tram story from New York. If you want to link to it, link to it. If not, so be it. Fighting this thing is more important than cheap self-promotion, and you KNOW it hurts me to say that.

I was hunting on the words Transients and Subways, just for kicks. I was visualizing the Portland Police booting some bums or religious folks that are giddy to have a potential captive audience, and signature gatherers too.

Then I found "The Subway Chronicles" which seems to be a collective blog, of sorts. Will we have as colorful a set of stories from our new tram?


May as well pay for the Tram - lock, stock and barrel - with an extra year of the new City I-TAX. By devoting the whole I-TAX to the Tram we could build a total of 6 Trams. For the children.

"No general fund dollars"

That's the continuing lie from the O this morning.

"Only $3.5 million to trigger a $1.9 billion development"

It's "Urban Renewal" not the general fund paying for the Tram"

Folks what can the public about such a well oiled campaign of misinformation.

Urban Renewal is worse than general fund money.

It's a credit card which must be paid back, with interest, by general fund property taxes.

That's why the SoWa budget has line item of $160 million for debt service on top of the now $300 million in urban renewal improvements the paper and elected never want to talk about.

All of which will come from property taxes captured just prior to their arriving in the general fund budgets struggling for cash.

"Only $3.5 million"????????

This is a mammoth snow job with runaway costs.
The ped/bike bridge has soared from $1.6 million to $5 million, the park land purchase from under $2 million to over $7 million and the rest of the budget has numbers as unreliable as the Tram budget.

But who will take a closer look?

Did anybody read the "special report" on the tram by The Oregonian yesterday? I thought it might be some discussion on Jack's Blog, but it may be mid-term time. I'll check around the blog-o-sphere.

Anyway, the revelations about surveys conducted by PPS and independently by Potter within the last few months, as he sought to gauge sentiment for extending the Multnomah ITAX, further suggest that the Portland ITAX was a hastily put together idea by the Mayor (and possibly Sten who has publicly sided with the Mayor, who coincidentally has recently endorsed Sten for re-election). Basically, the road through the county seemed to hazardous, so Potter took the city math... I mean path.

Also interesting was Potter's low-key sacking of Adams' exclusive oversight for City Hall, based on his responsibility for the Bureau of Transportation. Adams' stoic response to the matter seems a bit disingenuous. Potter's directive to make all City Commishes responsible for Tram oversight, while a good decision, also had political utility. Potter seems to be saying, "You're problem boys, I wasn't around at the time!"

Steve: flesh out the details, tie up loose ends, and call the Oregonian to ask where to mail "guest commentary" submissions. That way you aren't subject to the 250 word limitation and you'll get more visibility.

The public ought to know what you know.

As input for your math, I don't know how long it takes to load/unload 79 passengers from a Max car, because I don't know how many people get on and off at each stop. To load approximately 50 people at Parkrose in the morning, the train is stopped for no more than 20-30 seconds. This morning, the doors were open for only about 15 seconds.
I don't think the load/unload time is too unrealistic, but operating at maximum capacity might be (as is the underestimate of the number of people being carried, as you noted).

Steve: I think Alice's idea of your doing an opinion piece for the O is great. You can call or email Doug Bates. If he seems open to your opinion and then someone puts the k-bosh on it, let us know here. I had that happen with a piece I wrote on the local humane function that Bates liked (But local "humane" actors didn't.) I would like to figure out how opinion control over there works-and who gets the last word.

The O will not accept anything from me for print. The best I can do is continue to collect and distribute what my unique set of circumstances and contacts generates.
However, I have solidly verified, through unquestionable sources, that virtually all of the local journalists, commentators and elected are now visiting the primary blogs daily. Of course this blog sits atop, or shares the top, of that very short list. I am also told there is a shrinking number of those observers who have yet to realize the degree of expertise and knowledge found in the open and frank discussions which only these blogs provide.

In no particular order, (& likley beyond Jack's word count limit), here are some main points.

Using Urban Renewal is WORSE than using general fund dollars because it borrows millions which must be paid back, with interest over decades, by the very general fund property taxes which it supposedly isn't using.
The property taxes are taken prior to them arriving at basic services budgets.

Lora Cuykendall, wife of Editorial page editor Bob Caldwell, is the lead PR person for OHSU, which creates an unethical conflict of interest for the Oregonian editorial page. Little wonder today's editorial is nearly verbatim to the current OHSU talking points.

Goldschmidt pitched the Tram to Vera in August of 1998
Kohler to Randy Leonard in the winter of 98
Neil was on the OHSU board and his cronies followed with Mike Thorne on the Board when SoWa was approved. Thorne now sits on the Big Look committee.

The Tram is small by comparison to the greater SoWa Budget.

The Tram budget is not the only part of SoWa in turmoil

The greater problem is the whole SoWa plan now $300 million and an additional $170 million in debt service.

$1/2 BILLION in property taxes and climbing.

Property taxes from 409 acres are being used for the 120 acre SoWa mostly private development.

The park land purchase went from under $2 million to over $7 million

The ped/bike bridge went from $1.6 million to $5 million

Moving the electrical power tower (blocking condo views) doubled.

There is no money for the parks or greenway.

The first OHSU building is not for biotech jobs and the OHSU "doctors group" owners will pay no Tri-Met payroll taxes, no property taxes and no business taxes while enjoying their new health club, clinics and offices.

The $1/2 BILLION public money SoWa budget is as unreliable as the Tram budget.

That's a $1/2 BILLION in free infrastucutre for private developers and non taxpaying property owners.

One thing to remember is that unlike MAX, the Tram only has two stops.. That means that everyone gets off at the same time. (Which should make it faster and easier since everyone has to get off.)


Granted, there are just two stops, but there will be very few "ticket to ride" passengers. Everybody disembarks at each stop. Moreover, unless theres a door on both sides (which is unclear from the available images), nobody gets on until it has emptied.

79 members of a high school band? No problem: 45 seconds or less. 30 tourists, 20 hospital staff, one schmuck on his cellphone to his wife (are you on the north side, or the left side I can't see you) and 10 elderly or infirm patients? Might take longer than a minute.

55 mil and counting for of all things, a tram. Then Potter has the cajones' to ask for a new income tax to float education? Something isnt adding up here.

Im sure if you dig through all the players (Politicians, consultants, developers etc) and their relationships in this fiasco, it will all be pretty incestuous. With them all walking away making money and PDX taxpayers left holding the bag.

Alice, your questioning of the trams capacity is valid. Here is what our URAC committee has been told in the past year.

The tram capacity per day is 1800 trips.

PDOT and their consultants took into account that like any conveyance full capacity isn't achievable at all times; i.e. OHSU staff loads will fluctuate with shift times; that there will be wheelchairs, guerneys, sick patients, etc. decreasing capacity; and the operation was lilmited to 18 hrs per day. There are other factors.

One doesn't take the full seat capacity of a car and assume the car will always have five passengers on every trip, and run for 24hrs. There is also maintenance, and other downtime to consider. And don't forget that the 1800 trips/day also assumed full buildout of North Macadam, which won't be achieved for maybe 20 to 50 years. So you know with OHSU's only building being primarily a health club and some doctor offices, that it won't be generating 1800 trips per day right at the beginning or ever.

The Oregonian's statement that the Tram is ONLY costing $3.5M in taxpayers dollars is totally false. They do not take into account the costs of: toxic site cleanup at the east terminal; land costs; operation; maintenance; financing; design competition; staff, insurance; Local Improvement District for Tram costs being tax deductible; etc.

And, believe me, there are other "shell games" being played that are additional public dollars being applied to the tram. PDC is essentially a "shell game".

Just consider the financing cost for the tram. The PDC staff, namely Larry Brown has stated that financing is NOT a cost for the tram. He stated that its money that the city already has, so there is no financing cost. This is erroneous thinking. It's like telling you that since you have $30,000 dollars in a mutual fund and you decide to buy a $30T dollar car, then there is no cost to you. You are losing the 8% annual return on the money you have taken out of your fund. I stated this analogy to Larry Brown and he still denied that financing cost should be a part of the Tram's life-cycle costing. That is the problem we are facing with the City's Mindset.

After reading the Pinnell/Busch report you also begin to understand that if the tram is built to completion, the city and OHSU will be getting a strip down YUGO model. The east terminal cover from the elements has been eliminated; the OHSU terminal has been stripped down; landscaping isn't in the latest $55M budget; the 235 ft tower nest to I-5 is not as it was designed by the competition winners-now steel and massive bolts and plates; the list goes on. And the URAC committee and media knew over a year ago that the tram was being compromised by "value engineering". But it wasn't reported, but the costs still went up.

Excuse the fine points of the tram issue, but that is where it becomes more clear of how the tram issue is a microcosm of other issues facing our city and how we need to help the decision makers, staffs, etc. understand that we have other opinions, understanding, methods, of evaluating all the endeavors the city, Trimet, PDC, etc. are proposing for us to pay for.

Not to sound argumentative, but what constitutes a "trip"?

Clearly, the word "capacity" implies the maximum number of passengers that can be accomodated in a given period of time (18 hours being the operative figure provided by OHSU).

If you divide 1800 by 18 hours, that is only "100 trips" per hour. I'm confused. Given their 5 minute cycle objective (station to station transit time), that would mean an average "trip" include 10 passengers (assuming trip = number of one way passengers). NO WAY!

Alice: the 10 passengers per trip does make sense at 5 minutes intervals. How often do you see an average elevator cab holding 12 passengers? Also, the tram will be somewhat of a rush hour conveyance. This means that OHSU employees who might use it at rush hour probably won't tolerate waiting more than 2 to 3 cycles to catch a tram car. I don't see at other times when patients might use it at say 10am, that the car would be packing more than 10 people on a trip. Also the assumption of 5 minutes is low. Logistics of loading/off loading, etc. will more likely be 10 minutes; making the car passenger number jump to 20 people per trip in the 18 hrs. PDC estimate might be closer than we think. But remember, that at full NM build-out.

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