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Friday, April 13, 2007

Putting it all on plastic

I see that one of the national rating agencies upgraded some of the City of Portland's bonds the other day. Sometimes you wonder what those guys are smoking. Of course, in that barnyard the watchdogs are hired by the fox.

Meanwhile, one of our favorite troublemakers reported in yesterday on the latest meetup of the "citizens advisory committee" that's watching over the financial black hole known as the SoWhat district:

Another SoWa URAC meeting was a laugher today. No order, no Roberts-like rules, no old business, no new business, no motions, no votes, no reviews, no opinions wanted. They got the usual incremental budget, which is now reduced to one sheet and looks neither backward or forward. Big gaps and omissions are as common as entries. One member asked why the "North Portal" [street projects] is not in the budget, and Larry Brown said because they don't know how much it will cost. Members, rolling their eyes, reacted like, "Heck, you don't know what anything costs."

The South Portal, which is the Bancroft/Hood/Macadam intersection, is rising above $20 million and it could be $40 million. It was estimated in 1999 to cost $436,000 and finished in 05-06 FY. As were most of the transportation improvements. This was all cooking the books to make the North Macadam plan look "feasible," so that the Katz council could approve it. Of course, no staff report ever comes with any guarantees or consequences for those who cook things up.

All in all, there are probably $150 million in transportation projects hanging out in PDC limbo, off-budget and unfunded.

The pedestrian/bike bridge over I-5 is now a minimum of $11 million and rising. The original cost estimate by the PDC was $1.636 million [it's soon to be $22 million, like the San Diego ped bridge].

Of course, this central district is eating the funding for the entire SoWa. There won't be any money for the greenway/riverbank, either, which is now expected to cost $40 million alone.

How positively Graggalicious.

But hey, another $80 million for Powell, Homer, and Mazziotti over on Burnside! (Which of course will be a quarter-billion before we're through.) Sam the Tram is buying -- with your money! Fireman Randy says to party on, too. Drink up, everybody!

Comments (2)

Some comments may have been lost (at least temporarily) due to a server failure on April 14, 2007.

Randy is one smart politician, he waits for the folly and jumps in with arms waving and demands an accounting for the fiasco, and the blame is always elsewhere. Reminds me of days when he was a legislature.

Posted by KISS | April 13, 2007 7:18 AM

What the hell is a Portal and how is it different from a Couplet? Can a Couplet connect to a Portal or is it the other way around?

If those numbers for the South Portal are anywhere near accurate we might have a winner in the Budget Ratio Sweepstakes: From $436,000 to possibly over 40 million? That's getting close to the 4-minute mile of funding: A project that's 100 times over the first budget number! Suddenly the Tram seems like a great guesstimate.

Posted by Bill McDonald | April 13, 2007 7:30 AM

I have no idea how they expected people to get in/out of the area since you have only SW Macadam going thru it with a I5 on/off ramp adding to the traffic.

The foxes watching the henhouse is true. You know that every consultants contract has a clause saying if the govt doesn't like the report results they won't pay for it.

Sigh, when is the local population going to wake up to these clowns inadequacies?

Posted by Steve | April 13, 2007 7:41 AM

What the hell is a Portal and how is it different from a Couplet?

I think you have to be an Elf with a +4 broad sword and light chain mail to get through a Portal, but anyone except an Orc or a Wizard can get through a Couplet.

Posted by Dave J. | April 13, 2007 7:41 AM

I think the "Portals" are the main entrance/exit access points planned for SoWa. The design of the South Portal has changed and expanded to encompass a much larger project.
One that will never see the light of funding. The North Portal was not even included in the original 1999 plan.
Neither was the new I-5 flyover ramp which is supposed cross over Macadam and drop down to SoWa. The feds were supposedly going to fund that.
Can you imagine the CoP or Metro placing that project on the Fed table for funding? Now that's funny.
All of these costly improvements are of course for traffic. So not to worry. No need to pay for that stuff. Adams is addressing the CoP traffic problems with a new push for a Platinum award for a bike friendly city.
The biggest practical joke is the promised ped/bike bridge over I-5. That will eventually happen. Just like the greenway-riverbank will.
Watching it being funded will be as more entertaining than the 15.5 million Tram.

Posted by John | April 13, 2007 8:26 AM

Can a Couplet connect to a Portal or is it the other way around?

A couplet is actually an assembly (male and female) which connects two portals. It's the linchpin, however, which keeps the thing together, allowing dollars to flow through the whole contraption.

Posted by Chris Snethen | April 13, 2007 8:58 AM

this quote from the Graggalicious article sums up the blase attitude towards poor governmental leadership, i think:

Even some Portlanders who wanted the tram are still clucking over the final price tag of $57 million, angry that neighborhood and transit improvements intended to be part of the tram package aren't happening. Yet no one who sees the futuristic silver cars glide along their air-path could fault the thing for sheer elegance of design.

those poor cluckers. if they'd only look up, they'd see the elegance of it all.

Posted by | April 13, 2007 8:58 AM

maybe Burnside is the center of gravity that holds the linchpin joining the couplet with the transit nodes connecting the...

oh, nevermind.

Posted by | April 13, 2007 9:01 AM

And these clowns wanted to run PGE?

Posted by pdxjim | April 13, 2007 9:02 AM

A couplet is an apparatus of sufficient length and the proper amount of bends to securely attach one's head to their ass

Posted by ace | April 13, 2007 9:51 AM

The new campus is supposed to be the center of gravity for one of these projects, but I can't figure out if a linchpin is more important than a center of gravity. For example, if you attached two portals to the center of gravity would a couplet orbit around it forever?

Posted by Bill McDonald | April 13, 2007 10:36 AM

It all depends on the Swartzchild radius. If the Heisenberg wavelength is assumed to be equal to the radius (R = 2 Gm / c2) the the event horizon is determinate.

This is, of course, the point at which light cannot escape gravitational pull, aka a "black hole" which seems appropriate. Even black holes, contrary to popular belief, do emit radiation in the form of superheated gas jets at the poles of a spinnng singularity.

I sense some parallels with SoWa, the tram and the city council.

Now, back to work on the Unified Theory.

Posted by rr | April 13, 2007 10:54 AM

So you're saying South Waterfront is a black hole from which no revenue can escape? I'm beginning to get it now.

Posted by Bill McDonald | April 13, 2007 11:09 AM

Interesting theory. But the auto-oriented portals will never happen. Apply an intellectual Duh on that note.
Of course, perpetual motion comes to mind as this pattern of public investment appears to be unstoppable.
However, it may very well be that the money feeding the motion becomes so scarce that the only orbit will be that which occurs when something flows down a drain. In this case the "somethings" would be the SoWa plan and the credibility and careers of those involved.
BUT, the momentum for the status quo is a (forever underestimated)powerful force.
Many a gadfly has forecasted an imminent demise of the status quo only to be slapped into a spinning orbit of their own, perpetually pondering the next linchpin to it's downfall.

Posted by Your conservsative friend | April 13, 2007 11:11 AM

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