Milwaukie light rail will cost up to $1.4 billion

TriMet releases cost, rider numbers
Milwaukie light rail will cost up to $1.4 billion and carry as many as 26,000 new trips

This is a 6.5 mile Light rail line, divide that by $1.4 billion and that’s only $215 million dollars a mile. Using Tri-Mets numbers and not counting operating costs and or cost overruns!

The Milwaukie line will not carry 26,000 new riders. Tri-Met counts trips not riders. The new line is projected to carry 26,000 new trips. A trip is every time a person boards a light rail train or bus and get off. So if this person needs to transfer or stop along the route and hops off and on the train or bus or just return back to where they started. One person can become between 2 or more trips in one day, but they are only one person.

Using that, 26,000 new riders (or trips) should be divided by 2 or 13,000 people, at the high end. The new line will carry 13,000 people, if they don’t transfer to another train or bus. If all of the 13,000 people makes one stop, the ridership could drop to 6,500 people a day. Then on top of that, more than half of the trips will be former bus riders.

So my question is, are we going to spend 1.4 billion dollars to have between 3,250 to 6,500 new people riding this line?

We don’t have enough money to replace the Sellwood Bridge which carries around 30,000 cars a day, some with more than one person in it. Why are we told we need a new tax for the Sellwood Bridge but we seem to have plenty of left over money for the Milwaukie light rail line

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  • Jerry

    Interesting. If you do the math that comes out to almost a quarter of a million dollars PER RIDER!

    What if we bought a new car (30K) for each rider and gave them a gas allowance of 5K per year. That would cover everyone for 5 years. Plus, no maintenance or administrative or operating costs for the light rail. That should push it out so that these 6,500 people can just keep driving for free forever.

    I think this might be the better plan – especially with Michigan and the automakers in such a funk. Let’s stipulate the free car be made in the USA.

    Or, we could just give the 6,500 riders the $250,000 and tell them to stay away from Milwaukie. Then no light rail would be needed at all, nor would any cars or gas. I bet people would be willing to stay away from Milwaukie for even $125,000.

    Just a thought.

  • devietro

    Reducing the numbers all the way down to 3250 is probably unfair but Tri-Mets 26k number is also incorrect for the reasons you mentioned.

    Also Tri-met claims this will cost 1.25-1.5 billion, government rarely does things on budget so lets assume the number gets closer to 1.75 billion (and that assuming this does not end up like the tram).

    Also where are the numbers for the extra crime that we will be transporting into Milwaukie. Would Clackamas county Sheriff even dare to take a guess on how many more officers they would need?

    Sorry but I have lived in Portland too long to believe in tri-met.

  • Jerry

    Exactly – well put devietro!

    I got to thinking, too, if we used the 1.4 billion to buy bikes for everyone we could get 4.6 million of them at $300 a pop. I think that’s a bike for every man, woman, and child in Oregon with enough left over to get them new bikes if their’s are ever stolen or broken. Talk about leading the way nationally. If we could get all of Oregon riding bikes we would be the model for the world!!

    Just a thought – and a pretty good one at that.

  • Steve Buckstein

    Public construction projects overwhelmingly suffer from what is called “optimism bias.” The summary of perhaps the best academic study of this phenomenon states in part “statistical significance that the cost estimates used to decide whether such projects should be built are highly and systematically misleading. Underestimation cannot be explained by error and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying.”

    Source: “Underestimating Costs in Public Works Projects, Error or Lie,” in the APA Journal in 2002. by Professor Bent Flyvbjerg of Denmark, et. al. https://flyvbjerg.plan.aau.dk/JAPAASPUBLISHED.pdf

    • dean

      I’m not saying the proposed project is good or bad, but I am questioning the math of the critics.

      First Steve, doesn’t Tri met actually have a pretty good track record (no pun intended) of bringing their projects in on time and budget? If yes, why reference a more generalized study based on Denmark of all places?

      Second Jerry, if the ridership figure is PER DAY or PER WEEK (the post does not specify) you would have to amortize the cost over the life span of the infrastructure to have it make any sense, and compare that to the life span of your taxpayer funded autos (which wear out in 5 years or so, 2 if made in Detroit), replacing those autos as often as needed.

      Third, based on the math in the original post, wouldn’t the Sellwood Bridge figures also have to be cut in half since they are presumably 2-way trips? So now we have 15,000 versus 13,000, or close to even.

      Fourth, if you added 13,000 trips to the 15,000 crossing the Sellwood Bridge, wouldn’t you need a bigger bridge AND a widened Macacam Avenue, AND a widened Tacoma, and have to factor those into the total cost?

      • dean

        And Steve….even if public projects are always underestimated, wouldn’t that also apply to the Sellwood Bridge and associated road widening in lieu of light rail?

        • Steve Buckstein

          Yes Dean, I assume public bridge and road widening projects might also be underestimated. But this says nothing about which kinds of transportation infrastructure are preferable in any given circumstance, and it doesn’t account for project bias among the “powers-that-be” here.

          I think you’ll find that the bias in Oregon, and particulary in the Portland region, is heavily toward fixed rail projects over roads. A cynic might therefore conclude that cost estimates will be underestimated to a greater degree on rail than on road projects here.

      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, Tri-met only has a “pretty good track record” if you rely on its own statements. Check out the “Urban Rail Transit Projects: Forecast vs. Actual Ridership and Costs,” Charles H. Pickerell, Urban Mass Transit Administration report, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., 1990) to see that eastside light rail actually came in some 55% over budget. The original $135 million cost estimate was used by Tri-Met to secure federal funding. Then the budget was quickly adjusted upward so that by the time the line was completed (one year behind schedule by the way), the “budget” had soared to $210 million. Tri-met of course met that higher budget, but it sold the project to the feds (and Oregonians) on the $135 million number.

        The study documenting chronic budget “lies” was not based on projects in Denmark; the authors just happened to teach there. The study analyzed public infrastructure projects (transportation and others) worldwide and was published by Journal of the American Planning Association. Basically, it found that cost estimates were significantly on the low side in 9 out of 10 projects. If mistakes were honestly made, errors would have occurred roughly equally on the high side and low side.

        • dean

          Steve,

          Eastside MAX was their first project. A more fair comparison would be west side and north Portland lines.

          Yes, I agree local politicians and managers have a bias that favors rail and pedestrian improvements over new highways. But this bias reflects the bias of the wider community, as reflected in who they elect as well as in credible preference surveys. I’m not as cynical as you are over that contributing to cost esimate bias.

          My professional experience is that many if not most public projects are underestimated at the early stages, before extra bells and whistles are attached. The tram is a poster child for this problem. Those projects that are well thought out and estimated from the get go are due to the experience and skill of the project managers. If we don’t hire the best and brightest to do the work and reward them well, we don’t get the best work. A long way of repeating my earlier posts calling for serious civil service reform.

          • Steve Buckstein

            Dean, I don’t have complete cost overrun data available for all Tri-Met’s light rail projects, but one study that sought to determine if cost overruns declined with experience looked at 16 projects nationwide that were completed after Portland’s Eastside line opened. It included Portland’s Westside/Hillsboro line. Where the Eastside line was 55% over budget when it opened in 1988, the Westside line was 72% over budget when it opened in 1998. Not an encouraging trend.

            Source: “Trends in U.S. Rail Transit Project Cost Overrun, “DONALD C. SCHNECK et. al presented at the 2006 Transportation Research Board’s Annual Conference. https://www.guetzloe.com/11_trend.pdf

          • CRAWDUDE

            Steve, Dean is going to ask for the numbers of every project until you don’t have the answers to one, that will be the one he embraces . He asked you if Trimet had a good track record on cost over runs, you showed him that it didn’t by stating the numbers from the eastside project but that wasn’t good enough. If you found the numbers for the westside, airport or Hillsboro lines it still would not be good enough.

            Dean, being liberal doesn’t mean you have to back bad government all the time. 1.4 billion dollars for 6.2 miles of light rail track is rediculous by any standards……………cost over runs not withstanding

          • Anonymous

            West Side Light Rail Time & Budget
            1988 Forecast 1999 Actual Difference
            Ridership 34,150 (for 2005) 23,000
            cost of MAX $295-395 million $963 million 144-226% overbudget
            opening date 1997 1998 1 years late

      • Anonymous

        Yes the Sellwood bridge would also be two way trips but not all cars and lite trucks have only one person in it. I believe these numbers are after the bridge was closed to bus and heave truck traffic

      • Anonymous

        Yes the Sellwood bridge would also be two way trips but not all cars and lite trucks have only one person in it. I believe these numbers are after the bridge was closed to bus and heavy truck traffic.

  • Henry

    Dean asked,
    “Steve, doesn’t Tri met actually have a pretty good track record (no pun intended) of bringing their projects in on time and budget?”

    Yeah, according to TriMet.

    According to reality? Not so much.

    My question for you is why does it appear all of your views are exactly what the agencies and officials report?

    Time and time again it is pointed out where you and the agency are just plain wrong. Yet your faith and loyalty are unwavering.

    TriMet has not been on time and on budget at all.

    In the case of Westside MAX, and as is often the case, TriMet uses a very late adjusted up estimate as the basis for their claims.

    The tunnel was grossly underestimated and when boring costs and other costs, soared they carved off many of the ammenities along the line they had promised to local jurisdictions to gain their support.
    So the project was not only over budget and over time it was never finished as promised.

    FYI 20 people have been killed by MAX.

    • dean

      Henry…the answer is obvious. I am a lacky, a sneaky mole paid by Trimet to confuse the right wing. Ooops, I should not have revealed that. Never mind.

      Funny thing about tunnels…no one ever knows for sure how long it will take to bore them because no one can be sure what will be encountered. If that was the cause of the west side cost overrun, then I for one forgive Trimet, assuming their original tunnelling estimate was within a professional range given the unknowns. And had they gone ahead and put in all the bells and whistles originally hoped for, you would have even more fodder to say they can’t manage their budgets and spent it on frivolities right? That was in part why the tram was so far over…the city stuck with the amenities promised to the end.

      On cost estimating…its not my specialty, but I have direct experience with it. I designed 2 campgrounds for a national forest in the 80s. On one project, where I had a stronger role, we ran the blueprints and estimates past an independent review that redlined our work, which we then corrected. On the other, the project manager chose to not do a review of the blueprints and estimates. The first campground came in on time, with a total of $3K cost overrun on a $1 million budget. The second came in with $300K in cost overruns on a $500K budget.

      Lesson, good project management pays off.

      Okay…20 people killed by MAX. Vat das dis mean doctor? How many people were killed by or in cars carrying comparable numbers of people over a comparable distance over a comparable time frame?

  • Henry

    Well in ususal fashion you completely retard reality. There was much over budget with westside MAX. I only mentioned the tunnel becasue of the BS TriMet waspeddling at the time and their whole lying crap about finishing on time and on budget.
    You just don’t get squat.
    Probably because you are so friggin naive with these agencies.

    “That was in part why the tram was so far over…the city stuck with the amenities promised to the end.”

    You just made that up fool.
    Amazing bullchit dean.

    20 dead by MAX is far more than the same numbers of people moved by other vehicles.

    AGAIN you don’t know squat.

    • dean

      Gee Henry…let’s see if I can play name calling too, Yo Mamma is so fat….oh never mind.

      Show me the numbers. Assertions are easy. Show me how 20 dead on MAX over the years of operation, numbers, and distance people were moved compares to auto deaths. Personally I make no assertions, but I would bet auto related deaths are statistically higher.

      As for the tram, the original estimate ($15 million) exluded soft costs, i.e. design and engineering. The 2nd review raised the estimate to 28-30 million, including design. OHSU in the meantime built a new facility that resulted in a loss of the solid basalt foundation needed to anchor the upper terminal, resulting in much higher foundation costs. Delays in getting started (wrangling over who would pay the extra amounts) led to much higher than expected inflation of steel due to a worldwide (particularly China) construction boom and a rapid decline in the value of the dollar, hardly forseable, but delays are always risky.

      The blame for the underestimates has been mostly laid on OHSU and the City, not Trimet, which had nothing to do with the project. And OHSU has paid the lions share of the extra costs.

      There was a point where the wrangling parties considered abandoning the architect’s sculptural tower and using a simpler lattice tower. If I recall, that change would have saved $8 million, but at the cost of a permanent eyesore instead of a tourist attraction.

      So no Henry..this “fool’ did not make that up. Its in the public record. You can look it up for yourself and apologize later.

      • jim karlocik

        *dean: * Assertions are easy. Show me how 20 dead on MAX over the years of operation
        *JK:* Be glad to:

        *20* *Nov.19, 2007* …..Susan C. Dorsey killed near 82nd station-suffered from epilepsy- speculated “was not
        aware she was walking around and had left the platform.”
        *19* *May.16, 2006* …..Catalino Salazar-Salgado, 51, of Portland died Sunday night after being hit by a MAX
        train in Greshamg to…..
        *18* *Sep.30, 2005* …..A 40-year-old woman struck and killed by a MAX train Wednesday night in Greshamwas attempting to cross two sets of tracks surrounded by fist-sized rocks, bordered by high curbs and lacking any crosswalk.
        *17* *Aug.3, 2004* …..a 47-year-old Southeast Portland man had safely exited a MAX when his power wheelchair inexplicably rolled between the train’s two cars
        *16* *Jun.24, 2003*…..A 16-year-old Gresham boy was killed Monday night when he was hit by a MAX train on his bicycle at a stop near Northwest Eastman Parkway and Division Street
        *15* *Feb.9, 2002* …..A man in his late 20s was killed Friday after he got caught between moving MAX train cars near the PGE Park
        *14* *Jan.6, 2002* …..Mark Russell Arthur, 43, died when he was struck Friday by a MAX light-rail train in Gresham,
        *13* *Oct.21, 2001* …..A MAX train hit and killed a man lying on the light-rail tracks just east of the Beaverton Transit Station on Saturday night.
        *12* *Apr.10, 2001* …..Johnston, an engineering program manager at Intel’s nearby Jones Farm Campus, died from massive injuries to his head
        *11* *Oct.12,1999* …..A 41-year-old Beaverton man was struck and killed by a MAX train early Monday as he walked along the light-rail tracks…the 16th fatal accident involving MAX trains since Tri-Met opened the system in 1986…… Randy Scott Ruetz is the fifth person to be killed by a MAX train in Washington County since the westside line opened last year.
        *10* *Aug. 3, 1999* …..A light-rail train struck and killed a pedestrian during Monday’s afternoon rush hour at a busy commuter station in Beaverton
        *09* *Jun.15, 1999* …..A light-rail train struck and killed a youth Monday afternoon just outside Beaverton, making him the second pedestrian killed by westside MAX in eight days.
        *08* *Jun.8, 1999* ….. Herbert Lee Johnson Jr., …was killed about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when he was struck by an eastbound light-rail train while walking on the tracks……Tri-Met figures show that 10 pedestrians have been killed by eastside trains while walking in areas that were off-limits, and one person died after a car and a MAX train collided.
        *07* *Sep.20, 1998* …..Transient rode bike into side of Westside train. Died five days later. (From Graphic on page D01, Oct 28,1999)
        Sept 12, 1998 Westside MAX opens
        Nov 1996 North-South LRT looses at the polls
        Aug 1993 Ground Breaking for Westside MAX
        *06* *Jun.22, 1992* …..Pedestrian walking in ROW 82nd Avenue EB
        *05* *Feb.26, 1992* …..A 40-year-old transient was killed by a Metropolitan Area Express train early Tuesday as he walked on the tracks at Northeast 24th Avenue…. He is the fourth person struck and killed by a MAX train.
        *04* *Mar.23, 1991* ..Lee Heizer, 26, of Northeast Portland — the third person killed in MAX’s history – was thrown approximately 100 feet
        *03* *Jan.16, 1991* …..Collision w/ vehicle MLK
        *02* *Jan.1, 1990* …..Pedestrian walking in ROW 21 & Banfield
        *01* *Jul.28, 1986* ….. Pedestrian walking in ROW Halsey & Banfield
        ??..???…..1986 first day of full revenue service

        BTW, sometimes people say that these were all the fault of the victims, not the train. I have two answers to that:
        1. Why don’t buses have similar problems?

        2. Attractive nuisance.

        *dean:* , numbers, and distance people were moved compares to auto deaths.
        *JK:* As of 2006:
        MAX: 1,666,466,432 passenger-miles. 19 Killed. *MAX Death Rate: 19/ 16.66= 1.14*
        MotorVehicle Fatality rate forPortland (1994-2002): .55 per 100e6 Vehicle miles / 1.2 = .46 *Car Death Rate=0.46*

        Compared to cars (1.14 / .46 = 2.48 ), *MAX’s death rate is 248% that of cars.*

        *That means that if MAX hadn’t been built, statistically speaking, 12 of those 20 dead people would still be alive.*

        *dean:* Personally I make no assertions, but I would bet auto related deaths are statistically higher.
        *JK:* Wrong. You have to quit listening to planners – they lie. So do many other rail supporters because the have to lie to trick people into wasting BILLIONS.
        See more at: DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/MAXSafetyChart.html

        *dean:* As for the tram, the original estimate ($15 million) exluded soft costs, i.e. design and engineering.
        *JK:* That is not the original estimate. The earliest that I could document was $3 million to $5 million. The Oregonian, June 15, 1998. See DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/TramOnBudget.htm for more.

        *dean:* The 2nd review raised the estimate to 28-30 million, including design.
        *JK:* Who feeds you this crap? In December 8, 2000, the estimate was $12 million to $14 million. IBID

        *dean:* The blame for the underestimates has been mostly laid on OHSU and the City, not Trimet, which had nothing to do with the project. And OHSU has paid the lions share of the extra costs.
        *JK:* I’ll let others correct you on this one. Basically the city has been shoveling MILLIONS to OHSU to cover OHSU’s expenses.

        *dean:* There was a point where the wrangling parties considered abandoning the architect’s sculptural tower and using a simpler lattice tower. If I recall, that change would have saved $8 million, but at the cost of a permanent eyesore instead of a tourist attraction.
        *JK:* You got fooled again. That lattice tower could have been covered with a skin of aluminum for a heck of a lot less than $8 mil. end of eyesore.

        *dean:* So no Henry..this “fool’ did not make that up. Its in the public record. You can look it up for yourself and apologize later.
        *JK:* Then where do you get the crap you spew? You should be ashamed.
        BTW:
        Eastside MAX was 55% ofer budget, 54% under ridership and 3 years late. DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/EastOnTimeOnBudget.htm

        Westside MAX was 144-226% over budget and one year late. DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/WestOnTimeOnBudget.htm

        Thanks
        JK

      • CRAWDUDE

        Yes but Dean, the 15 million was what the city touted as the complete cost, the revised it after approval and pretended that those items were accidently excluded.

        Those tactics would go hand in hand with the Denmark study Steve referenced originally.

        Just doing rough math this 6.2 miles of light rail could potentially run 2 billion if the over runs come in on the normal average of all the above projects. Who is to say that Trimet isn’t once again giving misleading cost estimates as its done in the past?

  • Henry

    disinformation dean at it again.

    Go get the MAX dead numbers youself.
    While your at bone up on the Tram.

    The original estimate was $8.5 million and the 1999 North Macadam plan approved by city hall has $3.8 million in Tram costs.

    The OHSU building was not a new discovery. It wasn’t “in the meantime built” without the Tram estimators knowing.
    Those BS excuses you repeat shows again how naive you are.

    The city had little or no idea what they were getting into and the estimates were BS. There wasn’t a loss of “solid basalt foundation”.

    You’re such a load of bull.
    Your whole spin is sickening and completely dishonest jibberish.

    You don’t know what OHSU has paid either. But you lie about that too.
    Since you don’t know what you are talking about you should probably shut up.
    We get enough of that crap from the Oregonian.

    Who told you the Tram is a “tourist attraction”?

    Do you know what a tourist attraction is?

    Man you are one dumb cookie if you think people are traveling here to see the Tram.

    You are a fool who makes up alot. As well as repeats government propaganda.
    Since you are into looking up things why don’t you go look at table 6 in the 1999 North Macadam Urban Renewal Plan.

    You are part of the regionwide problem around here. And it’s a cancer of agenda driven misinformation, official malfeacence and corruption.

  • Jerry

    Remember, folks, the tram was about the dumbest thing ever done by the city. The lame excuse they gave about steel going up in cost was so idiotic to be almost laughable. If steel costs increased the tram by 3X why didn’t cars go up in cost the same amount?

    I will tell you why. The city lied.

    • Anonymous

      that’s right, the 300% increase in the cost of steel over 1.5 years was all a dream

  • Henry

    And the lying has only gotten worse.

    While the PDC and others cooked up the deception that the city share of the Tram was remaining relatively small, the “negotiations” were resulting in OHSU and developers getting paid 10s of millions of dollars through obscure line item TIF payments for vague and illegitimate uses. URAC member have been questioning these line items and schemes without appropraite response from the PDC.
    It appears OHSU will soon have taken in over $50 million in cash payments from borrowed TIF money while their 38 million Tram share is paid with their LID low interest payments over 25 years.
    Sweet deal.
    The city then must pay millions more in debt service on the millions paid to OHSU and developers as well.
    The whole thing is a corrupted and incompetent mess with layers of public deceit making it worse. Dean serves this mess well.

  • Jerry

    Dean, I agree with other comments here that your knowledge concerning the Tram is limited.

    JK is correct that the first cost ideas for the tram was $3-5M as reported by the O. The second estimate when it arrived at our neighborhood assn. per PDOT was $8.5M. The estimate used for comparison to other modes of transportation(shuttle buses, etc.) to move people/goods from OHSU to NM was $15.5M. Shuttle buses were less costly even at $15.5M. The rest is history.

    There were several spec modifications to reduce cost. The accepted design for the mid tower called for an open-lattice, tinker toy design in lam. wood to reflect NW regionalism. The steel tower as designed reduced costs substantially. The two terminals were modified substantially to reduce costs (weather enclosure). And there are several more aspects removed or modified.

    All of these can be verified reading the minutes/files of the PATI board, PDOT, PDC, and City Council.

    On the issue of the real Tram costs, the costs is more than the $70M. The full accounting has yet to be issued by PDOT. There are several normal, attributed costs that are not being included in the on-going accounting: the design competition costs; city bureau costs administrating all aspects of the project; land costs (public owned R.O.W. have substantial value-estimated to be over $4M); architectural/engineering, debt service, etc. As estimated over a year ago, the true Tram costs was over $170 Million.

    Mayor Potter has requested auditing (funded by Council) of the Tram, and we are waiting for the results.

  • JerryL

    The above comment was made by JerryL, different than the usual Jerry.

    • dean

      The $15M estimate I cited as the first one was I believe the one that accompanied the design that won the competition. I agree there were earlier, lower estimates by others, before anything was actually designed.

      Yes, it is indeed promoted as a tourist attraction. I doubt anyone comes to Portland specifically to ride the tram, but as part of what makes Portland Portland it probably adds an increment.

      On the death watch, I’m not going to spend all day crunching numbers. But over a 20 year period (the same period used for MAX deaths) the Portland region had somewhere in the neighborhood of 2800 auto related deaths and 166,000 injuries. These numbers are proportional to US highway deaths and injuries, and if anything understante the total since I used 60 as the baseline, and things were worse 20 years ago (pre shoulder belts and air bags).

      I used to live across the street from a home for brain injured people using up their insurance payments before they got dumped back onto their families or the state, and just about all of them had been in car wrecks. It could be that deaths on MAX are higher based on miles travelled because you have a pedestrian against a train as opposed to enclosed car on enclosed car, yet injuries may be far lower for of the same reason (few survive the encounter).

      The national average is 1.46 deaths and 90 injuries per 100 thousand miles driven (2006). Portlanders must be good drivers or lucky.

      Regular Jerry…it might be that steel is less of a factor in overall car cost, so the amount was negligable. Or it might be that auto companies buy steel under longer term contracts so the increase happened later. I don’t know. But steel prices did go up a lot over that period and that did raise the cost of the project.

      Jerry L…No question buses would have been cheaper. The issue is that doctors and researchers said they would not ride the buses, and without the tram OHSU would have moved to Hillsboro. So in our accounting, we would have to include the cost of that move all around wouldn’t we?

      But thanks for the tutorial on the lattice design. I was not aware of those details. I got the $8 million figure from a Randy Gragg article (Oregonian) a few years ago.

      I’m agnostic on the tram by the way, neither a supporter nor a critic. I have ridden it once and it was a cool experience and great view. I expect time will tell whether it was worth the cost, and I expect that in the not distant future the answer (for most Portlanders & visitors) will be yes. Most iconic civic structures end up being deeply loved. Even the Eiffel Tower was ridiculed as a waste of money and an eyesore when it was first built.

    • Jerry

      But I think the usual Jerry’s idea of using the Milwaukie Light Rail money to buy everyone in Oregon is actually a sound idea. No one commented on it, though, so I feel hurt and left out of this discussion.

      • Jerry

        A bike, I meant to say a bike. Buy everyone a bike.

  • JerryL

    Dean, here is some more information for you.

    The Tram was designated not to be a “tourist attraction” in all the planning documents. Appropriately so, it was deemed that using Portland’s Central City most expensive land, along the Willamette, for parking to facilitate a tourist attraction was not good planning. Also documents show that NM was not to be used as a parking lot to accommodate OHSU’s parking needs on Pill Hill for the same reasons. Neighborhood Assn’s lobbied for this as well as many city agencies (Parks).

    There are no documents, surveys, etc. that said doctors and researchers would not ride shuttles. In fact, doctors, nurses, and patients were already riding shuttles from several points from throughout the city. Why is it that the Legacy Health System has a extensive shuttle system serving its various facilities throughout the metro area? Besides, OHSU still has a shuttle system, and needs one as a backup to the tram.

    The decision to use the tram was more a political decision by Goldschmidth, Katz, PDOT to create an icon, linch pin, a signature, a pie-in-the-sky idealism. If a portion of the 10,000 bio-tech jobs were ever generated that needed a connection to Pill Hill, then the tram could easily have been delayed until that time. Part of OHSU’s present financial problems are due to the tram costs and they could have faired better to have waited to build the tram-if ever needed. OHSU threat to move to Hillsboro was a foil, besides extracting a lot of money from taxpayers.

    From what is available from PDOT budgets, the steel increases only accounted for about 8% of the increased cost from the $15.5M price. From the PDC, PDOT, and media coverage, steel price increases were conveyed as the major reason for the cost increases.

    • dean

      Jerry L…again thanks for the details. I wasn’t saying it was intended to be a tourist attraction, but it has turned out that way, or at least it is being promoted that way now. I for one would take an out of town guest to it to show off the view. Do you have any data on the extent tourists are using it?

      If the OHSU threat to move was a foil, it appears to have worked.

      I agree that it would have been wiser (particularly in retrospect) to wait and see how the South waterfront developed before investing in the Tram, and to have used shuttles in the interim. I used to live in Lair Hill and am sympathetic to the trauma the neighborhood has been put through on this project.

      I agree the steel price and upper terminal foundation issues were both conveyed (or at least that is what I took away) as the main causes of the overruns. It was clearly a badly managed project. No argument there.

      Back to the original post for a moment…is the Milwaukee Light rail estimate suspect? Sure…all early (pre-engineering) capital construction estimates should be greeted with healthy skepticism. Is light rail “worth the cost?” Hard for me to say. But in weighing the costs and benefits it helps to take both a wide and long view.

      I’ve always maintained that in environmental assesments the “no build” option should be given equal weight. It seldom is.

    • Jerry

      Precisely my point from my earlier post about them lying to us regarding the cost increases of steel or anything else that went into the tram. Someone got VERY VERY rich of that white elephant, I will tell you that much!!

  • Henry

    Mr. Dean,
    How many examples do you need to point out your misguidedness?

    “I wasn’t saying it was intended to be a tourist attraction, but it has turned out that way, or at least it is being promoted that way now.”

    What a perfect example.
    There’s a difference between being a tourist attraction and local government bullchitters decalaring and promoting it as one.
    Can’t you figure out that a geniine tourist attraction actually “attracks” tourists?
    Just because some people take their out of town guests for a ride doesn’t mean it attracked anyone to town.

    You’ve fully demonstrated your rather thorough misunderstanding of all things Tram/OHSU/SoWa.

    You’re emphasis on the agency excuses gets old.

    The upper terminal foundation excuse was a whopper. The concocted pretense there is that the city thought they could just hook on to the new building or that the building popped out of thin air right where the bedrock anchoring was intended.
    “Whoa, there’s a building in the way”
    I building that was planned and well under constructin well before most of the Tram estimates.

    Your problem is you take away form everything whatever the agencies say. Which by your opinions on the national scene is complete contradiction to your believing nothing the national administration and agecnies say.
    Such hypocricy.

    The Tram and SoWa are not merely “badly managed projects”
    The approved Urban Renewal plan itself was contrived.
    It’s blatyantly obvious. But it was all wrapped up in planning jargon, fantasy estimates and revenue projects and called feasible as the PDC reccommended approval.

    The idential pattern of cooked up legitimacy is being utilized in advancing the Milwaukee Light rail. There is not a shred of any skepticism or concern about whether light rail is “worth the cost or not ?” That question was long ago discarded by Metro/TriMet and other jurisdictions and officials.
    Your suggestion for a wide and long view in weighing the costs and benefits is completely empty rhetoirc that never enters the official equation.
    Stunningly absent in all of this auto-pilot adavancement of a new $1.4 BILLION light rail expansion is the parallel need to fund long neglected basic infrastructue. If it weren’t so serious this would be a comedy act. That while officials are desperately attempting to pass new taxes to fund the infrastructure crisis they acknowledge they are spending as if there is no crisis at all.

    • dean

      Henry…what I really need is for you to hyperventalate more. That will set me onto the good right road. Don’t give up on me. Call me names. Beat me. Its so exciting I can hardly stand it.

      Do people go to Paris because the Eiffel Tower is there? Or do they go because it is Paris, and the Eiffel Tower is one element of a wider suite of attractions that include sidewalk cafes, the best art museums in the world, 450 cheese options, beautiful, well presented people, and fantastic urban streets and tree lined boulevards that were also once over-priced public works projects resisted in their time, not to mention the odd smelling Metro?

      Do people go to Venice just for the canals? To Rome only for the Colleseium? To London for Big Ben? To Salt Lake City for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?

      No Henry. People travel to experience places. There may or may not be a single primary attraction. Portland is a set of experiences and the dreaded Tram, even MAX, are now part and parcel of this, as are brew pubs, farmer’s markets, Washington and Forest Parks, the Pearl District, and beyond the city limits Mt Hood, Yamhill Valley wineries, the coast, the Gorge, and so forth.

      Washington Square and Highway 217? Not so much.

      • jim karlocik

        *dean:* The $15M estimate I cited as the first one was I believe the one that accompanied the design that won the competition. I agree there were earlier, lower estimates by others, before anything was actually designed.
        *JK:* Then why didn’t you mention them?

        *dean:* Yes, it is indeed promoted as a tourist attraction. I doubt anyone comes to Portland specifically to ride the tram, but as part of what makes Portland Portland it probably adds an increment.
        *JK:* Then why didn’t you mention it?

        *dean:* On the death watch, I’m not going to spend all day crunching numbers. But over a 20 year period (the same period used for MAX deaths) the Portland region had somewhere in the neighborhood of 2800 auto related deaths and 166,000 injuries. These numbers are proportional to US highway deaths and injuries, and if anything understante the total since I used 60 as the baseline, and things were worse 20 years ago (pre shoulder belts and air bags).
        *JK:* Apparently you need to bone up on grade school math. These are rates>/i> which are the result of dividing total deaths by total passenger-miles. This is the method used by the Feds to compare different modes of transportation. Do you have something better?

        *dean:* I used to live across the street from a home for brain injured people using up their insurance payments before they got dumped back onto their families or the state, and just about all of them had been in car wrecks. It could be that deaths on MAX are higher based on miles travelled because you have a pedestrian against a train as opposed to enclosed car on enclosed car, yet injuries may be far lower for of the same reason (few survive the encounter).
        Although we don’t have the data, you are probably right that few survive being hit by MAX.

        *dean:* The national average is 1.46 deaths and 90 injuries per 100 thousand miles driven (2006). Portlanders must be good drivers or lucky.
        *JK:* You didn’t provide a credible source for this info. Care to provide one and also for auto deaths? My car data came from a credible source: Portland State’s: “Second Annual Portland Metropolitan Region Transportation System Performance Report” , page 47

        *dean:* Regular Jerry…it might be that steel is less of a factor in overall car cost, so the amount was negligable. Or it might be that auto companies buy steel under longer term contracts so the increase happened later. I don’t know. But steel prices did go up a lot over that period and that did raise the cost of the project.
        JK:>/b> You bet. It want from $3 mil to $50-160 mil because of the cost of steel. LAUGHABLE.

        *dean:* Jerry L…No question buses would have been cheaper. The issue is that doctors and researchers said they would not ride the buses, and without the tram OHSU would have moved to Hillsboro. So in our accounting, we would have to include the cost of that move all around wouldn’t we?
        *JK:* Moving cost is their problem, not ours. As they say: don’t let the door hit you. Simple way to save many millions. And maybe we could get some replacement that ACTUALLY PAYS TAXES, instead of a tax exempt institution.

        *dean:* But thanks for the tutorial on the lattice design. I was not aware of those details. I got the $8 million figure from a Randy Gragg article (Oregonian) a few years ago.
        *JK:*And didn’t bother to think about it. Typical Trimet/PDC/consultant/Planner excuse.

        *dean:* I’m agnostic on the tram by the way, neither a supporter nor a critic. I have ridden it once and it was a cool experience and great view. I expect time will tell whether it was worth the cost, and I expect that in the not distant future the answer (for most Portlanders & visitors) will be yes. Most iconic civic structures end up being deeply loved. Even the Eiffel Tower was ridiculed as a waste of money and an eyesore when it was first built.
        *JK:* I take it that you are willing to write a check to cover its cost so that Portland’s low income people who are barely able to pay their taxes, don’t have to pay for your “ cool experience and great view”?

        Thanks
        JK

      • jim karlocik

        (*JK:* Sorry, the above post is really in reply to an earlier Dean message.)

        *Dean:* Do people go to Paris because the Eiffel Tower is there? Or do they go because it is Paris, and the Eiffel Tower is one element of a wider suite of attractions that include sidewalk cafes
        *JK:* Oh, yeah, Portland is going to compete with Paris. LAUGHABLE.

        *Dean:* No Henry. People travel to experience places. There may or may not be a single primary attraction. Portland is a set of experiences and the dreaded Tram, even MAX, are now part and parcel of this, as are brew pubs, farmer’s markets, Washington and Forest Parks, the Pearl District, and beyond the city limits Mt Hood, Yamhill Valley wineries, the coast, the Gorge, and so forth.
        *JK:* Get rid of The tram ($100 mil per some claims here), Pearl ($250 mil), SOWhat (>>$500 mil) , Milwaukie MAX ($1.4 Bil) West MAX ($1Bil) and the tourists would still come here just like they did before these wastes. If you want to build Disneyland North here, why don’t you shell out your own money?

        *Dean:* Washington Square and Highway 217? Not so much.
        *JK:* Planners just hate those places because they represent the way people live and shop when left free. Planners hate freedom. Planners als refuse to face the reality that the central city only has a tiny minority of the region’s jobs and stores.

        BTW, which government agency or developer/consultant do you work for?

        Thanks
        JK

  • Henry

    Dean,
    Just as you always do you are dwelling on a canard.
    Portland as a toursist attraction or destination is thoroughly petty and a useless sidebar.
    Filling up posts abour Portland toursim and Paris is nothing but distracting noise. Not to mention that relatively speaking there’s not much here and Portland is NOT a toursist destination.
    You sure do avoid the most germane points and problems around here. When you’re not avoiding them your defending them.

    • dean

      Henry and JK…let’s play trash the messenger. For the record, I am a consultant, teacher, writer, and part time farmer. I have multiple clients, private, public and non-profit sectors. I do no work related to transit planning. Zero.

      Tourism in Oregon and the PDX Metro area:
      In Oregon, $3 billion in 1991, $7 billion in 2006.
      In PDX: $1.3 billion in 91, $3.2 billion in 06.

      Source: Oregon Tourism commission.

      Not Paris…but not too shabby. 27,000 tourist related jobs in Portland metro alone, with $133 million in tax receipts. But who needs it?

      The New York Times ran 6 articles on tourism in Portland and Oregon in 2007 alone, 22 on France (but hey…France has the highest level of tourism in the world, and its a whole country, not a mere state).

      JK: “Planners just hate those places because they represent the way people live and shop when left free. Planners hate freedom. Planners refuse to face the reality that the central city only has a tiny minority of the region’s jobs and stores.”

      Yes JK…that’s it. You’ve got it worked out. These socialist planners just have it in for sterile shopping malls, crowded freeways, and your version of freedom. The reality is that even the suburbs are trying to transform themselves to replicas of pedestrian oriented cities. Its a socialist conspiracy. And we are coming to get you. Arm yourself.

      • jim karlocik

        *Dean:* I do no work related to transit planning. Zero.
        *JK:* Of course, the relevant question is: Do you do any work for, or receive any pay, related to, government at any level?

        *Dean:* Tourism in Oregon and the PDX Metro area:
        In Oregon, $3 billion in 1991, $7 billion in 2006.
        In PDX: $1.3 billion in 91, $3.2 billion in 06.
        *JK:* Can you give some context to these numbers (and a link.). For instance what is the % growth in tourism compared to the state’s population growth, compared to the state’s income increase. (people who put out these kinds of numbers frequently lie by omission. One classic example is Trimet’s claim of ridership increase over 10 or 20 years, but they neglect to give the population increase which is about 1% less than the ridership increase, so the reality is that over ten years, trimet has increased market share by 1%. At that rate they will have ½ of us out of our cars in ONLY 500 years!)

        *Dean:* Source: Oregon Tourism commission.
        *JK* Link please

        *Dean:* Not Paris…but not too shabby. 27,000 tourist related jobs in Portland metro alone
        *JK* Detail please. % of total jobs. How many are wholly tourist, as opposed to merely “related”. I ask because the streetcar hucksters list an underground parking lot and PSU buildings as due to the streetcar. LAUGHABLE.

        *Dean:* with $133 million in tax receipts. But who needs it?
        *JK:* Cite the source by URL & page #. Also provide perspective $133 mil compared to what?

        *Dean:* The New York Times ran 6 articles on tourism in Portland and Oregon in 2007 alone,
        *JK* PDC is really good at huckstering articles. How many of those were without any Portland entity encouraging their creation?

        *Dean:* Yes JK…that’s it. You’ve got it worked out. These socialist planners just have it in for sterile shopping malls, crowded freeways, and your version of freedom.
        *JK* Finally, you get something right.

        *Dean:* The reality is that even the suburbs are trying to transform themselves to replicas of pedestrian oriented cities.
        *JK* Who fed you this crap? You made a wide ranging comment implying that most suburbs, not just one or two, are trying to replicate the failed smart growth policies. Prove it.

        Thanks
        JK

  • Jerry

    Dean – looks like he’s got you here.
    Nice work Jim.

    • dean

      JK…I did not save the link. Use your search engine of choice. The report was by Runyon Associates for the Oregon Tourism Commission. It did not provide any comparative data on population growth and so forth, but if I remember correctly about 45% of the total was from in state tourism, the rest out of state and international coming here. If you want to make an entire PhD dissertation out of this, be my guest. I have a life.

      Yes…much of my income is from government, directly through teaching, directly and indirectly through consulting. In fact, come to think of it even my farm/nursery sales are half to government agencies! I guess that means everything I say is BS, so don’t bother to read the rest. But if you are still reading, you can discount everything that every pollster, consultant, professor, and government employee of any stripe researches, says, or writes, which includes my data from the Oregon Tourism Commission. So never mind the search engine suggestion.

      I see your logic…if tourism promotion results in national news media running articles on how great Portland and Oregon are to visit, that means it is just all part of the great liberal-socialist conspiracy and we can ignore any positive results. Brilliant. Though I suppose the same could be said for advertising private goods.

      Local suburban projects that I am familiar with that emulate urban development patterns (mixed use, moderate density, pedestrian friendly):
      Orenco Station (Hillsboro)
      Villebois (Wilsonville)
      Fairview village (Fairview)
      Upper Pleasant Valley Plan (Gresham)
      East Happy Valley Plan (Happy Valley)
      Downtown Lake Oswego renewal
      City of Damascus Comprehensive Plan (still being developed)
      Bridgeport Village (Tualitan?)
      Troutdale Main Street and Sandy River renewal (Troutdale)
      Clackamette Cove (Oregon City)

      Not most perhaps…but more than 1 or 2. Now before you start ranting about these projects being subsidized, creatures of Metro, socialist experiments doomed to fail, etcetera….I’ll say in advance I don’t care to save you the trouble. You asked for examples of suburbs that are *attempting* to replicate pedestrian oriented mixed use, urban style projects. Now you have them.

      I could also provide dozens, perhaps hundreds of additional examples from suburbs around the nation, including car oriented regions like Atlanta, Denver, suburban DC, Phoenix, Dallas Texas, and Salt Lake City. The sun is setting on the low density, single use, car dependent post war suburb JK. It has nothing to do with socialism. It is as much market and demographic driven as it is an invention of the dreaded planners. Sell your ranch burger and buy a condo before you miss the boat.

  • Henry

    Dean,

    You’re yammering on, diverting further into irrelevant tourism.

    You said with sarcasm
    “Yes…much of my income is from government,…..I guess that means everything I say is BS, so don’t bother to read the rest.”

    JK never suggested such nonsense but you do have obvious conflicts of interest and major biases.

    But nothing compares to your hypocrisy.

    You use that exact same logic of discounting the messenger every time Global Warming is discussed. You falsely claim every scientist opposing the IPCC is a paid by oil and discount them on their face.

    You’re corrupted by your admitted financial ties to the government and liberal policies they advance. That expalins your steady defense and propagandizing here.

    Much of the local government agenda you’re assocaited with has been hitched to the Global Warming fraud. No wonder you’re such a
    dishonest defender.

    Funny how you left out the heavily subsidized Beaverton Round but included the NON subsidized Bridgeport Village.
    You should have thrown in Cascade Station too.
    Any impartial analysis shows the bulk of these subsidized schemes to be no where near acheiving the intended goals while devouring millions and neglecting basic infrastructure. LO maybe the exception but there too are big ticket items surfacing that have been neglected and need funding.
    Even there they should have simply passed a city wide bond measure and left property taxes untouched by their UR scheme.

    But you and yours are quick to declare success with every million spent. Your lies just keep stacking up.

    • dean

      Henry…I was responding to JK’s questions. If you find my responses useless yammering, then don’t read them.

      JK implied I have a conflict of interest, now you assert the same thing. Whatever. I really don’t care what either of you think about my motivations. If you can’t deal with the argument on its own terms that is your issue.

      I’ll take a pass on wandering back into a global warming debate with you. For all intents and purposes that issue has already been settled elsewhere.

      I listed projects I have some familiarity with. The Round and Cascade station are 2 I don’t know enough about to include. But thanks for expanding my list for me. I think we may have crossed into “most” (Portland) suburbs now.

      I did not declare or even imply that any of these projects are a success. Read what I actually wrote. Or don’t. “Either way”, as Jack Nicholson once said, “I frankly don’t give a d__m.

      • jim karlocik

        *Dean* Yes…much of my income is from government, directly through teaching, directly and indirectly through consulting.
        *JK* Let me guess: some school of urban or city planning. And your consulting is in the field of urban or city planning.

        Thanks
        JK

        • dean

          JK…you are like a dog with a new found bone. You won’t let go of this one. I teach landscape architecture at University of Oregon part time. My career focus is on natural resource management and ecological restoration, but I do have limited involvement in city planning as well. Its a minor part of my portfolio, but personally important since I live in an area presently being planned.

          And you?

          • jim karlocik

            *dean:* JK…you are like a dog with a new found bone. You won’t let go of this one. I teach landscape architecture at University of Oregon part time. My career focus is on natural resource management and ecological restoration, but I do have limited involvement in city planning as well. Its a minor part of my portfolio, but personally important since I live in an area presently being planned.

            And you?
            *JK:* I am not a dog.
            I design electronics. Don’t work for an oil company, or suck off of the government teat, just a very small specialty electronics manufacturing company. I just pay taxes and hate to see them wasted on all of the planner’s nutty schemes, which is generally a cover for feeding million$ to politically connected developers, consultants and their fellow travelers. Just to review how screwed up planners are:

            Planners say high density costs less – they are wrong
            Planners say high density reduces congestion – they are wrong.
            Planners say high density reduces commute times – they are wrong.
            Planners say transit saves money – they are wrong.
            Planners say transit saves energy – they are wrong.
            Planners say Europeans hardly drive at all – they are wrong.
            Planners say land use controls don’t increase housing costs – they are wrong.
            Portland planners point to high housing costs in California and claim there is no UGB – they forget to tell you that there is something just as restrictive.
            Planners say light rail is safe – they are wrong.
            Planners say light rail costs less than bus – they are wrong.
            Planners say rail causes development – they are wrong (the tax incentives do)

            Most of what planners tell you is just plain wrong. So much so, that one must question their honesty (or intelligence)

            See: PortlandFacts.com for just how wrong the planners are.

            I receive no income from opposing the city’s wasting of money and encourage everyone to be suspicious of those who advocate big spending projects that do the opposite of what is claimed.

            Thanks
            JK

          • dean

            JK…well you should be so proud. Well done you.

            I have more than a wee toe in the planning world you despise, and can tell you that “planners” don’t all agree on any of the things you cite.

            Examples:
            High rises cost about 30% more per sq foot than low rises.
            Higher density makes economic sense when the underlying land values are high enough. In most of PDX we are there. Builders used to want to build 4-6 units per acre, now they want to build 8-10, even in the burbs.
            High density combined with mixed use reduces commute times for those who live near where they work. That is demonstratably true.
            Europeans drive their smaller cars a lot, but less per capita than we do by far. They use about 1/2 the energy we use.
            Land use controls increase housing costs by a margin, but not a significant one from the data I have seen as long as there is sufficient opportunity to build to demand.

    • Jason Williams

      Henry,
      I appreciate your Catalyst participation, but you need to tone down your comments. It is our policy to refrain from personal attacks, mud-slinging and low brow swipes.

      There are 100 other blogs in Oregon that might love it, but not us. We want you at your best, not worst.

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