What will the RTC spend $3.3 Billion on?

Our RTC proposes to spend $3.3 Billion on a replacement Interstate Bridge. What will we, the taxpayers, be paying for?

These are my comments to the April 2019 Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors. The video link can be viewed here.

Last month I asked you a question, that I would still love an answer to. The RTC’s 2008 “Visioning Study” identified the need for TWO new transportation corridors and bridges across the Columbia River. WHEN will you put one or two new bridges and corridors into your future transportation plans?

Instead, you seem to resurrect the CRC. Your RTP includes $3.3 Billion for a replacement I-5 bridge. Can any of you tell the citizens of SW Washington what the details are of the $3.3 Billion price tag?

How many lanes are you proposing for that replacement I-5 bridge? Transportation architect Kevin Peterson told us an Interstate Bridge would need SIX lanes in each direction by 2030 and 9 lanes by 2060.

Will your proposal offer more than a ONE MINUTE improvement in the morning, southbound commute? That’s all the CRC offered.

If your proposal is NOT a resurrection of the CRC, you should be able to tell citizens and taxpayers what we would be paying for. Will it include light rail? Will it include an upgrade to Portland’s Steel Bridge? Will it include a new TriMet HQ in Portland? Will it include an oversized upgrade to TriMet’s Gresham maintenance facility? Will it include money for a “curation facility” in Vancouver? Those were all pork-barrel projects included in the CRC.

How much of that $3.3 Billion will go to a replacement bridge? WSDOT briefed the Bistate Bridge Replacement Committee the bridge was just $1.2 billion. Tiffany Couch’s analysis indicated the bridge would cost $791 million. So why are you listing your proposal as $3.3 Billion?

How much will be spent on road improvements on the Washington side of the river? What is the price tag for those improvements? How much of the $3.3 Billion will go to road improvements in Oregon?

What are you proposing to be a fair sharing of the $3.3 Billion in costs? Is this a 50/50 Oregon-Washington split?  In the CRC, almost 60% of road improvements were on the Oregon side of the river. How much will SW WA citizens pay? How many federal dollars are you expecting to get? Will the federal government pay for any part of the new bridge, as opposed to mainly funding light rail like the CRC proposed?

Will TOLLS be part of the funding for your proposed $3.3 Billion project? If so, how much will be covered by TOLLS?

When will you inform citizens of the details of your proposal? Can Matt Ransom provide us an overview today?

The citizens and taxpayers deserve to know the answers to these and many more questions surrounding your $3.3 billion RTP proposal. Please provide all of us the details and answers.

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REFERENCES

From transportation architect Kevin Peterson — the I-5 corridor would need SIX lanes in each direction by 2030 and 9 lanes by 2060. But that would only solve traffic congestion problems if 3 to 4 additional lanes were added into downtown Portland (the Rose Quarter).

Forensic accountant Tiffany Couch (Acuity Forensics) did an analysis of the costs of the various CRC components. From her CRC Budget Discrepancies report.

And more specifically – cost discrepancies on the CRC’s replacement bridge.

The Acuity Forensics analysis highlighted problems and discrepancies in both the Oregon and Washington interchange costs.