I read this editorial…
“Emergency radio network must be put on hold”
...and felt it needed editting. The same reasons for a halt to OWIN are greater when aimed at halting MLR.
So I changed a few things.
Milwaukie Light Rail must be put on hold
Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 4:01 PM Updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 4:06 PM
Yes, rail transit expansion will be compromised, but the responsibility lies with Transit leaders who turned the MLR project into a $1.6 Billion mess of a deceitful financing plan, reckless hurry and a cost they cannot afford.
Lawmakers should not allow any more money to fall down the rathole that is the Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail project, or TriMet.
Call a halt to MLR, even though Oregon needs projects and jobs. Call off the planned sale of $100s of millions in bonds to pay for part of the project. And here’s the last call: A state struggling to pay for its basic services has no business proceeding with a public works project this tainted by deliberate deceit, inadequate funding and still no fed funding approval.
Read all about it in the many stories and reports on how TriMet has pitched the project including misrepresenting the costs of the project to lawmakers, the governor and the public, understating the total cost and the federal match by more than $150 million. TriMet officials circulated inaccurate and deceptive plans to convince legislators and the public they were solvent and made more progress on funding than they really had. And when a Sheriff, Fire Chief and members of the public raised concerns, they were ignored.
Given all these revelations, not to mention the state’s financial crisis, it’s time to stop building MLR, a project we and many others have consistently supported over the years. Yes, agency and the state have already spent tens of millions of dollars on the project. Yes, there are gaps in the region’s MAX transit system that leave citizens without service every day. Yes, the federal government match would be lost. And yes, TriMet seems to have it heading to construction.
Still, it is unthinkable that Gov.-elect John Kitzhaber, the 2011 Legislature or the public would respond to being flat-out deceived about critical aspects of TriMet and MLR by shrugging and handing over hundreds of millions of dollars more to the project.
When Kitzhaber and legislators consider their options, none will look especially appealing. The state can’t entirely abandon transit because of the need for service.
Our advice is to go ahead with the purchase of new buses — the cost for them is a few million dollars — but halt planning, building and spending on the Milwaukie Light Rail expansion to reconsider all the available options, and review what’s been done, and not done, so far.
In a state with clearly limited resources, we’ve never been fully persuaded that Oregon has no choice but to build another MAX line costing more than $1.6 billion dollars to ensure that transit users can use light rail instead of buses in another corridor in the region. There’s no doubt that a full MAX network would be nice. However, is it absolutely necessary?
We’d like to see lawmakers hold hearings to further explore that question and many, many others about TriMet and MLR. The Legislature should not release additional Lottery funding for MLR until lawmakers are sure, really sure, they have a handle on the project, and that it will be planned, built, operated and paid for in an affordable way.
You’re certain to hear that any delay in MLR will put Oregonian’s jobs at risk. But if anyone is hurt by a decision to delay the project — to start clean, as it were — the responsibility lies not with those who now demand accountability, but with those who broke the public trust.
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com