Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 8th, 2008 at 8:44 am
In a letter sent out this morning to subscribers of his email newsletter, City Commissioner Sam Adams summed up PDOT’s budget woes and made some final statements on the defunct Sauvie Island Bridge re-use plan (I think the statement will also be published as an Op-Ed in the Oregonian but haven’t confirmed that yet).
In the letter, Adams writes that the combination of high fuel prices, the increasing cost of materials and declining Gas Tax revenue (because Oregonians are driving less) has created a “massive new transportation challenge facing our City.”
According to Adams, PDOT is facing a $2.7 million “current service budget hole for the fiscal year starting in July .” Here’s what the letter said about how that gap will effect about 40 projects in PDOT’s pipeline:
“…the skyrocketing cost of oil has put existing estimates for transportation projects out-of-whack… Most of these projects used inflationary cost estimates that have proven to be low. Higher costs for petroleum–based materials like asphalt and tar and for materials that take lots of energy to produce like concrete and steel mean higher project costs.”
Adams then writes that he’ll ask City Council “to fill the $2 million budget shortfall for next year.”
He also explained that the new budget “blows a $30 to $40 million hole” in his Safe, Sound, and Green Streets Initiative that he’ll put in front of voters in November.
And in what will perhaps be his final comments on the Sauvie Island Bridge reuse project, he re-iterated that he doesn’t feel confident “we can bring this in at the $5.5 million I have promised” and he adds that, “I will continue to pursue the construction of a new cheaper bridge over I-405 within the next three to five years.”
Then, he directly addresses Mayor Potter’s criticisms of the project (emphasis mine);
“But I want to make some comments about the bridge project before we leave the issue.
The recycling of the Sauvie Island bridge was sadly–and unnecessarily–ensnared by political gamesmanship that did no credit to the critics, and obscured an important issue for the public.
Last week, Mayor Tom Potter wrote an opinion article in these pages saying that we don’t need a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over I-405 at Flanders Street. Mind you, this is a project that he voted for on 4 separate occasions. In fact, over the last six years two city councils have voted for this numerous times.
But in his article, Mayor Potter argues that the West Burnside and Northwest Everett and Glisan streets are safe and that bikers and walkers in Northwest Portland do not need a bridge dedicated only to them across the I-405 ditch.
That’s flat out wrong. The West Burnside, Glisan and Everett streets injure and kill more bikers and walkers than any other street corridor in Portland: 280 injured and 15 dead over the past nine years. And I believe the Mayor was also wrong to use this issue to pit one part of Portland against the other…
…A bike and pedestrian crossing at NW Flanders has always been about safety. And while recycling the Sauvie Island Bridge may not be the means, I am committed to finding a safe way for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross I-405. I have asked transportation to study potential improvements we could make with little cost to address safety issues in the Burnside/Everett/Glisan corridor in the short term.
— Read the full letter here.
— More on PDOT’s action plan for dealing with this budget situation can be found at CommissionerSam.com.