Monday, July 30, 2012

Back That Quotable Ass Up

  "Simply put, it's Orwellian -- our tax dollars are being used to deliberately hide inconvenient facts from the public's eyes," said Evan Manvel who has worked against the CRC project for the Coalition for a Livable Future. "Taxpayers and legislators should be outraged."

This quote via an article in the Columbian that calls into question the role of the Oregon Dept Of Transportation (ODOT). Are they the states auto mechanic, or are they a car salesman?

Oh. They are both.

Now unless you have a close, trusting relationship your mechanic/salesman you probably want to have them be separate entities. If not, you would certainly raise an eyebrow if every time your car needed a repair their suggestion would be to scrap it and buy a hummer-limo.
Forget "picking the kids up from the pool" try putting a pool in your car!

But even Hummer-limos are cheap compared to the cost of the Columbia River Crossing. Estimates hover between 3-8 billion dollars, which might seem like a lot for a bridge, but then this is more than just a new bridge, its a massive freeway expansion project.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said both the northbound span, built in 1917, and the southbound span, finished in 1958, were rated as functionally obsolete in their 2011 inspections.

Manvel called the definition of a 'functionally obsolete' bridge a "term of art."

"I just think their spin machine is in full cycle," Manvel said. "They're working to remove anything that undermines their case. If we can't trust the information they're putting out on their own web page, why would we trust them in their new reports?"

He pointed out that the states lack money for the maintenance they need to do now, let alone find more funding for large new projects like the CRC.

ODOT is in a difficult place.  On one hand this governmental body is advocating for taxpayers to pay for the largest, most expensive infrastructure the region has ever known, and on the other hand it is responsible for providing info about the status of the current infrastructure to be replaced. For those following the project, this sort of conflicting interest, along with the numerous inconsistencies (such as their models showing traffic levels increasing over the next 20 years when they have also reported that traffic has decreased over the past 20 years)  has caused a significant credibility gap in our regional planners.

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