"As Governor Kitzhaber pushes Oregon's lawmakers to go it alone on the costly, risky Columbia River Crossing mega-project, it might be wise for everyone in Salem to get a subscription to the Seattle Times, Crosscut, and The Stranger, stat.
Over the past two months, the Times has had headline after headline about WSDOT's latest mega-project, the Seattle tunnel. Most are about how Bertha, the world's largest tunneling machine (custom-built for this project) hasn't moved for nearly eight weeks; contractors and WSDOT have undertaken an expensive and potentially dangerous investigation.
As Oregon has no experience with such mega-projects, and ODOT has a terrible track record with its recent large projects, it is incumbent on CRC-backing legislators to learn from others.
We know Oxford University's Bent Flyvbjerg's meta-analysis shows 90% of mega-projects go over budget, with a billion-dollar cost overrun about average for projects the size of the CRC. We know how Boston's Big Dig, projected to cost $2.8 to $6 billion, ended up costing $22 billion.
Closer to home, we remember the OSHU tram, which came in at two to four times its projected cost, and with a fare more than double the estimate. That's a project one-hundred times cheaper and simpler than the CRC.
But Oregon lawmakers should also notice similarities with mega-projects in Washington, where the DOT – an agency with much more experience than ODOT in managing mega-projects, and that oversaw much of the groundwork the CRC – is struggling mightily with a big bridge project and a two-mile tunnel in Seattle. . . ."