In a cramped meeting room in his office a few minutes ago, Commissioner Adams explained how rising gas prices have impacted PDOT’s transportation budget and that the Sauvie Island Bridge span reuse project is the first casualty.
Standing next to PDOT Director Sue Keil, Adams said rising fuel prices have given PDOT a “double hit” and that the situation has forced them to “rethink how we spend our money.”
As expected, Adams also addressed his decision to halt plans to install the Sauvie Island Bridge span in Northwest Portland. He expressed some of the same sentiments he shared with me last night.
Adams re-iterated that PDOT numbers show the Burnside/Everett/Glisan corridor is very unsafe and he said he still disagrees with Mayor Potter’s assertions (made in an Oregonian editorial) to the contrary.
“I disagree with Mayor Potter’s editorial that [this corridor] is safe and I disagree with him when he says it [the bridge] is not needed.”
According to Adams, the latest estimates from ODOT show that Portland has a new $2 million decrease in Gas Tax revenue, in addition to a $700,000 hole PDOT had already estimated back in October. That $2.7 million gap means PDOT will now undergo a comprehensive evaluation of their spending.
PDOT Director Sue Keil said part of that evaluation will include cost-saving measures across the bureau. She mentioned PDOT will review vacant position to determine essential hires, restrict discretionary spending, look for productivity improvements, and “examine opportunities to reduce fuel consumption” among their vehicle fleet.
Keil said this current funding crisis is not new and that PDOT has already been cutting costs in recent years. “This is not about simply cutting fat… this is serious stuff,” she said.
A member of the media asked Adams how disappointed he was in the Sauvie span decision and he replied, “I do it with a heavy heart…because of the human tragedy [that occurs in that corridor]…”
On that note, Adams said he’s going to try and keep the $500,000 in general transportation funds from the Sauvie span project and use it to make improvements to the Burnside/Couch Corridor.
When asked if there was any way the Sauvie span project could still happen, Adams said, “No. It’s dead and buried. It will be scrapped.”
–More coverage of the press conference on the Portland Mercury blog.