U.S. Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) is featured in a front page story in today’s edition of The Columbian newspaper expressing his concerns about the “fiscal reality” of the new I-5 bridge (the story is only available in their print edition).
Echoing a sentiment shared by economist Joe Cortright at Sunday’s rally in opposition to a 12-lane Columbia River Crossing (where Cortright compared the CRC staff’s accounting to Bernie Madoff), Baird told The Columbian that “he has longstanding concerns about how to pay for a project expected to cost $3.5 billion” and that he has “received few answers”.
Baird reportedly said that projections of how much of the bridge’s tab could be paid by tolls made by CRC project staff in the draft environmental impact statement, “didn’t provide much information to back up those calculations.” “For lack of a better word, it didn’t show the work,” he told The Columbian.
Here are a few more excerpts from the article:
“…Baird went a step further and criticized engineers and planners for not paying enough attention to the numbers…
Baird…said members of Congress will demand more financial details.”
Baird didn’t hide his disdain with plans developed by a Tallahassee, FL architect hired by the crossing office that envisioned a bicycle-pedestrian path lined with mosaic tiles.”
(Mosaic tiles on the bike/ped path? I hadn’t even heard of that yet.)
And, in what will be welcome news to smaller bridge proponents, Baird’s concerns about the bridge’s cost led him to say that scaling back the budget might mean building it with fewer lanes.
The article pointed out that while Baird was “critical of almost every aspect of the CRC’s financial plan” he also said “the region must act.”