Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I know where we could save $400-$800 million

Gosh, if we can't afford to maintain what we have already built, surely only fools or scoundrels would seek to lure Salem into spending hundreds of millions on a huge new bridge built over soils that will liquefy during a quake.

What the story blames on the Prius (declining gas tax revenue) is actually only the tip of the iceberg. Because we blew through all the easy, cheap oil (back in the 50s and 60s when it was funding all those massive building projects), now we can have all the oil we want . . . but only at prices we can't afford.  Those are also the prices that lead to even more drops in driving (recession and drops in driving because of unaffordability ), and even more drops in gas tax revenue.

The only solution is to stop building new completely, and reprogram the money into getting more value from the existing roads, which means preservation, elimination of studded tire use, and a massive increase in transit (more value per road mile, rather than getting less value from more road miles, which further drives up maintenance costs).

By 2030, the state will need to put nearly $6 billion into replacing infrastructure, the audit found. By 2040, repairs and replacements will together cost nearly $7 billion.

Oregon does not have that kind of money for infrastructure projects.

The federal gas tax has not been raised since 1993, and average fuel economy has increased by 22 percent over the past decade. Congress has passed legislation to temporarily supplement that lost revenue, and Oregon has passed three bonding packages in 2001, 2003 and 2009. (The most recent package included an increase to Oregon's gas tax.)

Today, bonds make up 40 percent of ODOT's $1.9 billion budget and pay for dozens of projects, which has increased the department's workload at the same time it has been forced to cut staff.

The "Salem River Crossing" -- the F-35 of Highway Projects


This is insanely great -- Canadian media, naturally. The payoff of this profoundly awesome
10 minutes of straight talk is when he explains, in response to the interviewer's question about "well, what is it good at then?":

"Delivering money to Lockheed"

Just like the purpose of the Bridgasaurus Boondogglus is not about actually solving any problems, but is instead is about one thing: delivering money to the companies in the Salem Chamber of the 1%.

So instead of the smartest, fastest, lowest cost solution to the advertised problems with our auto dependency, it's intentionally the high cost, overbuilt kludge, designed for an ever hanging rationale for an ever changing audience, with only one real unswerving goal: hundreds of millions poured into concrete to promote even more sprawl to follow.