The Futility of Public Hearings

CascadeNewLogoBy John A. Charles, Jr.

Over the past four years, TriMet and Metro have been planning something called the SW Corridor Project. Metro describes it as a multi-modal project featuring new transit capacity, local street improvements, and enhancements to trails, sidewalks, and bike lanes. The project will begin at Portland State, travel along Barbur Boulevard, and terminate somewhere near Tualatin.

The exact nature of the transit element has never been disclosed; ostensibly, the choice is between light rail and bus-rapid transit. The Project Steering Committee insists that final decisions on the technology, route, terminus, and financial plan are still open for discussion, with some preliminary decisions scheduled for 2016.

Curiously, however, at the November 11 TriMet Board of Directors planning retreat, the Board was informed (at 3:17:05) by project staff that opening day for the project has already been set: September 12, 2025.

How is it that TriMet already knows the exact day that operations will commence, if it doesn’t even know any of the particulars – including a proposed, $250 million tunnel to PCC-Sylvania that would only be built if light rail is chosen?

Apparently, all decisions have actually been made, and future public hearings will be just as fake as the past ones.

All aboard for light rail to Bridgeport Village. Only 3,581 days till the opening ceremony!

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Ethics, Land Use Laws, Metro, Portland, Portland Politics, Public Transportation, Transparency, Transportation, TriMet | Tagged , , | 3 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • thevillageidiot

    we need more out of control trimet spending. Go Portland!! The solution I would propose would be Free Market in transportation. But that will never happen. Bolt seems to be successful. they are still running buses. So tax the public more.

  • Guess Who

    Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain, Dorothy the future is yours to wait and see what has been decided for your own good as all central government has forever.

  • David from Mill City

    From a project planning perspective, there are three ways to establish a time line, start with the day you want to or must have the project completed and work backward, work forward from the current day and the hybrid working from both ends to the middle. Two of those ways need a target completion date. Additionally there may be requirement tied to funding that requires the project be completed before a given date to be eligible for funding under that program. So establishing a date does not necessarily mean that anything has been decided behind the scenes, but also does not mean they haven’t.

    There is another use of public hearings that is often over looked, the sign-in sheets, speaker sign-ups and written submissions are public records. Got to the hearing, speak your piece, and take note of who agrees with you then after the hearing use those materials to organize a group to push your point of view. Also, most public hearings are held to meet some state, local or federal requirement, the announcement should contain references to those rules, regulations and laws. Look them up, read them, as they contain all the rules of the game. It may be their field but they still have to follow the rules.

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