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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 27, 2008 4:41 AM. The previous post in this blog was Welcome back to work. The next post in this blog is Only the good die young. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Follow the money

With all the controversy brewing about the proposed new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River, no one's asking an obvious question: Who's going to make a bundle on the deal? Don't think for a moment that the boys and girls in the Network Formerly Known as Goldschmidt don't know who the contractor will be if and when the thing is built. And if they know, shouldn't the public?

Comments (20)

Follow the Sam & Metro wing nuts and it will never be built.
Neither will the Dundee/Newberg bypass, or the Sunrise corridor thorugh Damascus or the I-5/99 connector.

Don't expect much to happen anytime soon. This is Oregon, where anything to make highway travel easier will never happen in your lifetime.

Maybe Joe, Homer and Hofman will start building bridges.

You blame the lefties for doubling the labor costs of every public works project.

Once again Mr. Jaquiss writes a piece that asks relevant questions. Money question--If we need to begin to change we live and travel to slow global warming, why do we encourage the status quo with 4.2 billion in public investment?

I wonder if there isn't a cheaper way to actually add a couple of more lanes to the Vancover-PDX link. Maybe the nearby rail bridge could add a couple of light lanes for say light electric vehicles/bicycles. Additionally, the manufacture of new bridge lanes might be outsourced overseas to save on costs. I've heard rumors California has outsourced the manufacture of a bridge and saved some $600 million in the process.

Based on the Willamette Weekly article last week I calculated a cost per additional daily car crossing for the expanded $4.2 billion bridge plan at some $14 to $15 (each way). It is $4 when averaged over all car crossings. This assumes a 50 year muni bond carrying 5% interest on principal of $4.2 billion and 44,000 additional car crossings per day.

$4.2 billion is a pretty hefty price tag but I also think it would be kind of cruel to do what some Metro Councilors propose and invoke a toll without actually going ahead with construction of some expansion. This is especially cruel what with the escalating cost of gasoline and diesel fuels. In effect, we should already be seeing what impact tolls would have in reducing congestion what with gasoline prices up nearly a 25% since last year.

Sorry that should read: "You CAN blame the lefties..."

That said, there's another option the Metro Crooks refuse to consider:

http://www.newinterstatebridge.com/

I have to admit I do wonder why Oregonians should pay so much for a new bridge and interstate exchanges, to primarily convenience people who choose to avoid Oregon's income and/or property tax burdens by living in Clark County and working in Portland,(and likely Washington taxes as well by shopping at Hayden Island), and who have repeatedly rejected light rail options. As everyone knows the heaviest congestion is from Vancouver in the am and to Vancouver in the pm. during regular work days. I wonder what percentage of the cars during those periods have Oregon license plates. Perhaps a congestion toll is not a bad idea. You'd probably only need it in the am for southbound traffic.

DB: People who live in WA but work in OR still pay OR income tax but get nothing for their investment.

What I find entertaining is people who keep quoting $4.2 billion but don't realize that is a total cost with a glorified bike/ped portion as well as a brand new light rail line.

Tolls are OK as long as they are going to pay for the AUTO portion of the bridge that wasn't covered by local or federal fuel taxes or registration fees. The rail/bike portion needs to come up with its own funding mechanism including tolls, licensing and registration, and donations from the BTA.

People who live in WA but work in OR still pay OR income tax but get nothing for their investment.

Except a job.

Oh, and use of our roads, sewer, water, and emergency services for a good portion of every day. And even our parks for lunch.

My money's on us getting the "Cadillac" option--a from-scratch rebuild of the bridge.

Why? Well, like Boston's Big Dig, it would be a bipartisan porkfest. Conservative-friendly business interests and Democrat-friendly construction unions both would benefit. And the bigger the project, the more money in the trough.

Also like the Big Dig, it will be way over-budget.

One of the points of the story was this project means lots of union jobs--the project is getting the bright green light from pols who run on union bucks. Enviros vs. unions--food fight!!

Liberal Liberty and Hostage Hostica should be run out of town on a rail.

To cave and build another span is APPEASEMENT...just like Chamberlin.

Follow the money: Here is a list of big contributors ($5000 and over) who were in favor of building light rail when it was on the ballot in 1996. All pro-rail contributions totaled over $1,156,340. The light rail opponents spent about $110,000 and won. That is why we no longer vote on toy trains.

NAME OF CONTRIBUTOR AMOUNT
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Portland General Electric............................................$52,500
Pacific Power..............................................................$52,500
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers........$50,640
Fred Meyer..................................................................$50.000
International Union of Operating Engineers...............$44,710
U.S. Bancorp...............................................................$35,000
First Interstate Bank....................................................$30,000
Siemens Duewag Corporation.....................................$30,000
Oregon Public Employees Union................................$27,400
Legacy Health..............................................................$25,000
Portland Trail Blazers..................................................$22,750
Local Union Legal Foundation....................................$20,000
Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade & Douglas....................$20,000
Bridge Structural, & Ornamental Iron Workers...........$17,400
Sheet Metal Workers....................................................$16,350
Bank of America..........................................................$15,000
Intel Corporation..........................................................$15,000
Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen...................................$14,000
LTK Engineering Services...........................................$13,400
BRW Inc.......................................................................$12,500
Middleton & Compauy.................................................$12,000
Greenbriar Company....................................................$10,000
Tom Walsh....................................................................$10,000
Zummer Grinnel Frasca Partnership.............................$10,000
Goldman Sachs & G.)...................................................$10,000
Nike, Inc.......................................................................$10,000
Kiewit Pacific...............................................................$10,000
Morse Brothers.............................................................$10,000
Union Pacific Railroad.................................................$10,000
Hanley Industrial properties.........................................$10,000
Bombardiere Corporation.............................................$10,000
City Center Parking......................................................$10,000
Obie Outdoor Advertising............................................$10,000
OTAK Architects.........................................................$10,000
Standard Insurance.......................................................$10,000
U.S. West Communications.........................................$10,000
United Infrastructure....................................................$10,000
Amalgamated Tran it Union..........................................$8,100
Cement Masons.............................................................$7,650
Hoffman Corporation....................................................$7,500
CH2M Hill....................................................................$6,000
O'Brien Kreizberg.........................................................$5,600
James Furman & Co-....................................................$5,000
Dames & Moore...........................................................$5,000
Providence Health Systems..........................................$5,000
Slayden Construction....................................................$5,000
Kaiser Permanente........................................................$5,000
David Evans & Associates............................................$5,000
Class PAC.....................................................................$5,000
CFI Pro Services...........................................................$5,000
Davis, Wright, Tremaine..............................................$5,000
NW Natural Gas Co-....................................................$5,000
Zidell, Inc-....................................................................$5,000
Stoel, Rives, Boley, Jones, & Gray..............................$5,000
Yeon Properties............................................................$5,000
Pacific Gas Transmission.............................................$5,000
AT & T Wireless..........................................................$5,000
Block 216 Partners.......................................................$5,000
Keylorp Management..................................................$5,000

Why is it that just about every public project runs over budget? Is it because the contractors know they can get away with it? Isn't there some way the city could draw up a contract that holds the contractor(s) legally obligated to stick to the pre-determined budget or else the contractor would have to eat any overrun costs?

Chris McMullen - where is your evidence that Metro refuses to consider a 3rd bridge? I think your assertion is false. The CRC committee was responsible for the proposals and is responsible for the lack of realistic alternatives to the project that was their forgone conlusion. The 3rd bridge is one of those realistic alternatives that they eliminated for dubious reasons. Metro is cornered into reactive disapproval, as many agencies will soon be.

Joey, if you want a direct answer to your question, there are three primary reasons:
1. unforeseen circumstances, including unmapped utilites, historical or environment issues encountered during construction
2. volatile material costs - costs of concrete, asphalt, and steel (to name a few) have been out-of-control and pretty unpredictable in the past 5 years, kind of like oil
3. scope creep - bells and whistles that get added to projects late in design to address concerns raised by the public

Unit:

If these are reasonable expectations, then why aren't they built into the cost estimate?

FedUp - that one's easy: politics. Whether it's a building, road, train, or other, there is always political pressure to make these things cost less - usually using overly optimistic assumptions. The more the public is involved, the more pressure there is to add more and still reduce the costs. Usually there is accomodation made for these increases, but it is often the first target when it's time to "trim the fat".


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