Shell games with the Moody Avenue project in South Waterfront

by NW Spotlight

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in town yesterday, joining a ribbon cutting ceremony in South Waterfront (SoWa) for the Moody Avenue project.

But there is the bigger story.

Contrary to officials and Brad Schmidt’s Oregonian story, this project is not about enabling “redevelopment opportunities it will bring to the South Waterfront district” as Secretary LaHood stated. The “opportunities” have already been established, with millions in tax dollars spent on infrastructure and direct subsidies.

Project is for Milwaukie Light Rail, not Redevelopment Opportunities

Schmidt’s Oregonian article entirely misrepresents the project. The project is the REQUIRED MOVING and RAISING of Moody Street and the Streetcar to accommodate the Milwaukie Light Rail project. Without Milwaukie Light Rail, Moody Avenue & the Streetcar would be fine where they are. Moody would just need to be finished like South Moody was.

Schmidt’s article presents a deceptive picture by reporting the raising of Moody (by as much as 14 feet) is for moving the road above the flood plain. That is completely false. SoWa does not need 14 feet; only a 4-foot raising is needed for the flood plain. The same 4 feet that South Moody was raised. The nearly-new, existing Streetcar is already above the flood plain.  The 14 feet is to accommodate the Milwaukie Light Rail / bridge alignment.

Move of Moody Street also makes land available for Zidell and OHSU

Moody Street is also being moved 100 feet to the west leaving the equivalent of 4 city blocks behind for Zidell and OHSU to add to their parcels, at seemingly little or no cost.

Raising will create more parking

The raising of 14 feet does have other purposes, and the entire OHSU site for their planned Life Sciences Collaborative Center building will also be raised the 14 feet.

This will not only align their building with Milwaukie Light Rail grade but will provide two levels of parking, without having to disturb and spend millions to mitigate the capped brown field below the site.  Of course, parking is important because the stakeholders know that even with the Tram, Streetcars and Light Rail, people will be driving to SoWa in big numbers. Especially the affluent OHSU hierarchy and other elite.

Project masks true cost of Milwaukie Light Rail and OHSU expansion

This $51 million project is mostly a Milwaukie Light Rail project. Yet none of it is being included as a cost of either Milwaukie Light Rail or the OHSU expansion.

Cozy arrangement between OHSU and TriMet

There are other cozy arrangements being made behind the scenes. OHSU is giving some land to TriMet for Milwaukie Light Rail. TriMet will be calling it a $15 million in-kind donation and telling the Feds that it’s part of the local match for Milwaukie Light Rail. At the same time, TriMet will be giving OHSU $10 million towards their new SoWa building.

In support of this cozy relationship, OHSU’s Brian Newman attends TriMet hearings and provides ginned up testimony on how vital MLR is to their planned expansion in SoWa.