Opponents of the Columbia River Crossing would be shocked to learn how the state of Washington approaches major transportation projects.
Many of those opposed to the CRC complain that it is too expensive, has cost too much already, and does not have a viable financing plan. But Washington has already started work on the new Highway 520 bridge in Seattle even though it is more expensive than the CRC, has cost more so far and has only a little more than half the budget locked down.
The Highway 520 bridge will replace the floating bridge over Lake Washington. Construction costs are estimated at $4.65 billion, far more than the scaled-down $2.5 billion version of the CRC under consideration.
The Highway 520 bridge has already cost $288 million to plan, more than twice as much as the $140 million spent on the CRC so far. And, although the CRC has yet to finalize its budget, work has begun on the Highway 520 bridge despite an admitted $2 billion spending gap.
TriMet budget fight gets personal
The Amalgamated Transit Union has launched a drive to replace TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. It was kicked off at an Occupy TriMet rally held Wednesday afternoon.
McFarlane has been adamant that union employees should pay part of their health care costs. The union claims McFarlane is incompetent and helped create the agency's $12 million to $17 million budget deficit.
The petitions will be presented to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and TriMet board Chairman Bruce Warner. Under state law, the governor appoints the TriMet board of directors, which hired the general manager.
Mayoral candidates roll up more dough
The three major candidates for Portland mayor are on track to raise and spend more than $2 million in the primary election, at the very least.
By early this week, Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith had together reported more than $1.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions.
With less than five weeks to go before the May 15 election, Sources doesn't think that a combined $2.5 million is out of the question -- before the top two vote-getters face off in the November general election.
The most recent reports show Brady still in the lead with more than $761,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, followed by Hales with more than $396,000 and Smith with more than $368,000. Brady also had the most in the bank, almost $274,000.
Smith was in second place with almost $233,000, followed by Hales with more than $219,000.
Library levy supporters rallying
Another well-funded campaign should be the one in favor of the measure extending the Multnomah County Library levy on the Primary Election ballot.
The Libraries Yes! Committee has a little more than $243,000 in the bank, but Director Brian Wilson expects it will raise at least that much more over the next five weeks.
That's just the first phase of this year's campaign. If the levy extension is approved in May, Multnomah County commissioners have promised to put a measure creating a new library district on the general election ballot in November, for which the committee will also campaign.
No one knows for sure what will happen if the levy extension fails in May, Wilson says.