Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 20th, 2011 at 11:53 am
The contract will go to a Washington-based firm (Max J Kuney Company). In a press release, the CRC project said the firm will, “conduct a construction techniques test project in early 2012.”
Deputy project director Kris Strickler added that, “The test project will allow engineers to refine design assumptions and project plans, keeping us on schedule to start construction by the end of 2013.”
In addition to this “pre-construction” contract, the CRC project has already cost taxpayers an estimated $130 million in planning and PR expenses.
CRC project staff want the public and elected officials to see this project as being inevitable and are happy to share this news as yet another sign of its momentum. But outspoken bridge critic and economist Joe Cortright calls that momentum nothing more than a “fiction purchased by $130 million in planning money.”
Cortright points to a lack of funding comments from local and regional agencies as well as the federal government as a sign that the project is far from a done deal.
In testimony to Metro back in August, Cortright said,
“CRC is trading on the sheer volume of its work and a vague sense of inevitability to move the project along. But still, after years of “planning” they haven’t raised dime number one to actually pay for construction.”
So, does today’s announcement kill Cortright’s chief argument? He says it doesn’t.
“This is planning, not construction,” he wrote me via email today. “The holes they are boring are not for the actual bridge itself. They are to get data on the geology and to assess the environmental effects of the drilling/pile driving… Still not a dime for actual construction of the bridge.”
US DOT Assistant Secretary of Transportation Policy Polly Trottenberg didn’t help dispel that feeling in a recent interview with BikePortland. “The one issue with that project [the CRC] is that the funding is still not in place,” she told me in an interview published this morning, “Whether our blessing of the next step of it will make the funding emerge… We’ll have to see.”
Read the CRC’s full announcement here.