Friday, January 18, 2008

That Sounds Kinda Expensive

The planned Milwaukie Max in Portland had its cost estimates released and it wasn't pretty if you're thinking about raw numbers. Yes $1.2 to $1.4 Billion is a lot of money but what is involved? Materials are skyrocketing and the project plans to build a transit bridge over the Willamette River (which will cost $340 million itself) that would carry the Milwaukie Max and East Side Streetcar extension along with bikes and peds.

It will also allow any further light rail expansion to the east side and create a second river crossing for light rail which would be important should one of the bridges go down in the chance of an earthquake. This is all about expanding the network as Metro Councilor Robert Liberty States.
As Liberty sees it, completing the Portland-to-Milwaukie line will keep the promise of the original system and open up new possibilities, including an extension to Oregon City and east-west connections that do not pass through downtown Portland.
As I think further about this and look at the distance, even with the bridge section, 6.5+ miles at a billion dollars seems like a lot of money. It works out to around $150 million per mile (without the bridge section costs). Are they building a trench for it? Is it a subway? Especially since the Yellow Line was under budget and $60 million per mile in 2004. Folks at Portland Transport are commenting on this as well. I wonder what costs so much? Specifically after the Portland folks have gotten good at the track work after the Streetcar and Yellow Line. We really need to reign in these cost issues or new lines will never be built. I believe thats what the opposition wants, as well as our very best friends in Washington DC. Perhaps its time for the rapid streetcar but we'll figure out what is behind the costs soon.

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