The “iron law” of megaprojects: over time, over budget, over and over again
Following the financial nightmare of the Columbia River Crossing, citizens thought they had dodged a $3.5 Billion bullet. They thought they had dodged $8 each way, $2,000 per year in TOLLS. Sadly, the CRC is being resurrected by special interest driven politicians.
The Columbian reported part of the story and got an unexpected email from Bent Flyvbjerg in ENGLAND at the University of Oxford! You can read the complete news report here.
“Flyvbjerg is a professor at Oxford’s Saïd Business School who developed the “iron law” of megaprojects: over time, over budget, over and over again.”
“Flyvbjerg provided a link to “Design by Deception: The Politics of Megaproject Approval,” a 2005 article he penned for Harvard Design Magazine.
It’s a compelling read. Megaprojects that get built are not the best projects but ones that underestimate costs and environmental impacts and overestimate benefits and revenues.
“Many project proponents don’t hesitate to use this approach, even if it means misleading lawmakers, the public and the media about the true costs and benefits of projects,” Flyvbjerg wrote. “This result is an inverted Darwinism — an unhealthy ‘survival of the unfittest’ — for large public works and other construction projects.”
The Washington legislature has funded $35 million to reopen the former CRC’s Project Office for two years. That’s three quarters of what we would have to repay the federal government if we simply walked away, and started fresh. Instead, WSDOT & ODOT were given five years to finish a “replacement Interstate Bridge” project and begin breaking ground.
What we need are 3rd and 4th bridges across the Columbia River, not a replacement of the existing old, but SAFE Interstate Bridge structures. You can read more about the safety issues here.
Presently, Oregon’s JPACT (similar to our Regional Transportation Council – RTC), has three separate items in their 2040 transportation plans. All represent a resurrected CRC, including light rail, for a total of $4.1 Billion of our tax dollars.
And of course they want SW Washington citizens to pay a huge share of that cost, via TOLLS on all the Portland area freeways, beginning at the border with Washington.
and the light rail component for $850 million.
and then an $80 million separate bridge connecting Hayden Island with Delta Park.
Keep in mind that a local forensic accountant scrutinized all the CRC’s financial transactions, reporting that the cost of the actual bridge was just $792 million. The rest of the $3.5 Billion CRC boondoggle was light rail and pork barrel spending, all wrapped into one package.
SW Washington citizens need to rise up and say NO! to a “Mega project”. Professor Flyvbjerg from Oxford has warned us. It will be “over time, over budget, over and over again.“