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View Full Version : Tram news (finally!)
Jul 21, 2005, 6:14 PM
It makes me a little nervous that a project manager would sound so negative about such a public project. But it's nice to see that construction will finally get started.
Does anyone know specifics about the construction timeline? Will they start at one end or get going on the top and bottom at the same time? I can't wait to see it go up.
Tram plan is juggling act, not a slam dunk
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Being a sports fan, Don Irwin pictures himself down 15 points halfway through the fourth quarter of a Blazer game.
Can he still win?
"We'll need some luck along the way, and we'll need to make some of our own luck," he says. The buzzer sounds Sept. 30, 2006.
Irwin is construction supervisor for the Portland Aerial Tram. By his estimate, it's a 16- to 18-month project that needs to be finished in 14, starting next month.
And the $40 million budget? It may or may not be enough, depending on international steel and cement markets.
Irwin knows construction. He supervised U.S. Veterans Administration medical construction and remodeling projects in five cities from 1972 to 1991, ending in Portland and Vancouver. Then he helped TriMet build the westside and Interstate MAX projects. He is on loan to the city of Portland for the tram project.
Irwin brought Interstate MAX home several months early and $25 million under budget. TriMet used the extra money to buy seven extra rail cars.
Better yet, Irwin, who's also a lawyer, finished the Interstate project with no squabbles with the contractors. Unlike some earlier projects, TriMet spent zero on lawyers and litigation.
The cost-cutting challenge looks tougher on the tram, which will travel 3,450 feet between the Oregon Health & Science University and the South Waterfront urban renewal district.
There are only three structures -- two landing stations and an intermediate tower. "It's all necessary and also complex," Irwin says. About 70 percent of the budget will be concrete and steel, yet another reason why scrimping is difficult.
The most difficult piece is the upper station, connecting to the ninth floor of a new medical building. "The footprint is a postage stamp," Irwin says. "The structural solution is unique and very complex."
Project leaders have met with residents under the tram and will meet with them more as the project moves ahead. "We will tell them how it is to be built and when their front yards will be disrupted," Irwin says. "We'll try our best to minimize the pain that comes with any construction project."
Tram cars will float approximately 70 feet above the ground. A one-way trip will take about 21/2 minutes. Tram cars were designed to be "bubbles in the sky," Irwin says, to make them unobtrusive as possible.
But, he adds, each tram car will be about half the size of a TriMet bus. "It will be noticeable," he says. "But I'm hopeful it won't be negatively noticeable."
The university is banking on the South Waterfront as a new area for expansion, with the tram as the people-connecting link. Irwin's opinion of the tram: "Short of a tunnel and an elevator -- which would be tremendously expensive -- it's a great solution."
Fred Leeson: 503-294-5946; firstname.lastname@example.org
He is just setting himself up for the hero roll. Its in his best interests to make the job seem really really hard so when he does get it done on time he comes our rosy for his next job opportunity.
Jul 21, 2005, 6:45 PM
it still doesn't give us a construction start date...
Jul 21, 2005, 6:50 PM
whats the hold up? It was supposed to start construction in february or march 2005 then it was june.
The project just went out to bid. An ad is in the DJC.
Jul 21, 2005, 8:03 PM
Where's the announcement of the restaurant/viewing platform or other public space up at the top?
I'll be extremely disappointed if this tram ends up being nothing more than a medical taxi for OHSU.
P.S.: LOL @ cab's comments. So true!
Aug 12, 2005, 5:49 PM
Crews ready sites for tram
Friday, August 12, 2005
Workers will begin relocating a sprinkler system at Oregon Health & Science University on Monday in preparation for construction of the aerial tram's upper station.
The following week, workers will cut down trees, flatten the land and begin work on a gravel construction road to the site of the upper station.
Workers also will insert 6-inch pilings 50 feet into the ground at the lower station in the South Waterfront district.
The 3,300-foot tram will connect OHSU's Marquam Hill campus to the fast-developing South Waterfront district, where the medical school is building laboratories, treatment facilities and offices.
Kiewit Pacific Co. is the main contractor for the project. Doppelmayr CTEC will install the jellybean-shaped tram cars.
City transportation officials expect the $40 million project to be finished by Sept. 30, 2006.
-- Yuxing Zheng
Across Moody street from Public Storage is the staging area for construction equipment and offices for the tram.
Sep 15, 2005, 10:44 PM
Perhaps the tram route has an ancient curse
Eerie precendent: As construction begins on the aerial tram, Anton Vetterlein of the Homestead neighborhood notes an earlier transportation venture on the identical route.
In 1889, one Frank Prantl tried to build a cable railroad between Marquam Hill and Southwest Second Avenue along Southwest Gibbs Street. At a half-mile long, Prantl's Portland City Homestead Railway was only a few hundred feet shorter than the tram route. Alas, Prantl couldn't make the steam-powered car negotiate its way along a cable anchored between the tracks. It never went into service. "The failure caused the promoter to go insane," wrote John T Labbe, in "Fares, Please," a history of Portland's street railways published in 1980.
Sep 15, 2005, 11:02 PM
At Gibbs & Moody excavation is well under way. Gibbs in the SoWa is closed off and has been ripped up.
Oct 22, 2005, 5:13 PM
Cost of steel lifts tram's price tag
South Waterfront The aerial tram might now cost Portland $45 million, nearly triple the estimate from 2003
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Unexpected high bids for steel have raised the price tag of Portland's aerial tram by $5 million and launched another City Hall scramble to find extra money.
The steel bids, which came in at almost twice the estimates, could push the total cost to $45 million, or close to triple the estimated price from three years ago.
Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, who manages city transportation matters, said project officials are trying to cut costs while preserving tram safety and the original design "within reason."
World demand for steel, driven in large part by fast growth in China, has pushed prices well above general inflation, said Vic Rhodes, project manager for Portland Aerial Tram Inc., a nonprofit company created by city government to build the tram.
Adams said he is talking with property owners, Oregon Health & Science University, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Portland Development Commission about additional construction dollars. He said he would not seek more money from property owners in local improvement districts at both ends of the tram.
The 3,250-foot tram system would ferry passengers between the South Waterfront district and the Marquam Hill campus of Oregon Health & Science University.
Adams said he hopes to have a revised funding formula in place by Nov. 7. Time is urgent because 80 percent of the tram materials and labor have been committed, and construction is under way at all three tram locations -- two terminals and an intermediate tower.
The project completion date remains Sept. 30, 2006, but Rhodes said that is "an extremely tight schedule." He said a November opening might be more likely.
A $45 million budget would leave a contingency fund of approximately $3.7 million. Adams said the contingency is essential because the project is technically complex and more surprises could occur as work progresses.
Tram estimates started at $15.5 million during a design competition in 2003, then rose to $24 million, $28.5 million and $36.38 million. The last figure was part of a $40 million package approved by the City Council in April with a contingency fund.
Tied to OHSU plan
OHSU is constructing a 16-story building that will house medical offices, research facilities and a wellness center adjacent to the tram's eastern terminal in the South Waterfront district. It is on schedule to open next September.
The tram is a key element in OHSU's operations at the new building. "We are very concerned about getting both projects in on time," said Steve Stadum, OHSU's chief administrative officer. "But we realize there are always going to be scheduling issues."
The OHSU project is expected to be the first of several possible OHSU buildings on the Willamette riverfront. In addition, several high-rise condominium projects are under construction or in the planning stages in the South Waterfront urban renewal district near the tram's eastern terminal.
A funding formula approved by the City Council in April relied on property assessments on land at both ends of the project, tax increment urban renewal money from the South Waterfront, energy tax credits and a $4 million contribution from OHSU. The formula did not include any city general fund money.
Stadum said he doesn't expect the university to offer more than the $28.7 million it already has committed through property assessments and the cash donation. "I think they are satisfied with our contribution to date," he said of the city.
A new plan is likely to rely more heavily on urban renewal revenue from rising property taxes in the South Waterfront area. Urban renewal contributions amount to $3.5 million so far.
However, a larger contribution would mean less money available for streets, parks and other capital improvements normally funded by tax increment money in renewal districts.
Commitment to design
Rhodes said directors of the nonprofit tram company considered changing the design of the 185-foot intermediate tower that will lift tram cars over Southwest Macadam Avenue and Interstate 5. A lattice tower, looking like those that carry electric lines, was a cheaper alternative.
But Rhodes said the board wanted to keep its commitment to follow the design by Sarah Graham, a Los Angeles architect who won a design competition on the tram project in 2003.
Adams agreed with keeping the more expensive design.
Otherwise, "what you would be left with would be something that looked like a cheap ski lift at a bad ski resort," he said. Adams added that he didn't want to leave the city with an "ugly postcard" that could last 100 years.
Adams said the city also could face legal problems from property owners paying tax assessments for the tram if the project doesn't substantially comply with the plan adopted by the City Council.
However, Rhodes said engineers have found ways to achieve some savings on the intermediate tower by bolting instead of welding some steel plates, and by using different paint. Erection of the tower poses difficulties because of its unusual shape and angles. "There isn't a right angle in it," Rhodes said.
Oct 23, 2005, 3:08 AM
Ouch. I'm very much in favor of the tram, but the costs involved have become staggering.
I agree with Adams that it would be a tragic mistake to comprimise the design of the center tower to save some money. The tram is about long-term investment, and to bastardize the design would leave Portlanders paying the price (aesthetically) for a long time.
Oct 23, 2005, 4:11 AM
there is plenty of NEGATIVE comments about the tram, but when it is up and running it will be an amazing sight. it will be on postcards and tourists will ride up and down the hill just for the experience and to see the city. property values will go up, and the city will expand! i often think of the aerial tram from mont Juic to the sea in barcelona, and how exciting of a ride it is. those cars in BCN are antiquated, where these tram cars will be glass with blue underbellies with a very thoughtful shape. the lower portion of the glass in the car will have horizontal striations that creates privacy in and out of the car. next time you drive down to SoWa, or down I-5 imagine the tram car going from OHSU (patient care facility -9) to the east side of I-5 unsupported. that is a huge span. The one and only guide pole is on the east side of I-5. In of itself that is an amazing feat! Aside from the escalation in construction costs, seen in projects across the board, this project will be an exciting and very progressive mode of transportation - very EXCITING for portland!!!
Oct 23, 2005, 5:05 AM
I so excited about it and I cant believe its supposed to open in less than a year.
You should see all the crap written about the tram on that Jack Bog 'I hate Portland and all its residents with a passion' Blog.
Oct 24, 2005, 12:33 AM
Does anyone know what the construction on Gibbs and Corbett is for? I thought it might have something to do with the Tram because it is right below it.
Oct 24, 2005, 3:55 PM
welcome to the NW forum dkealoha!!!
Not sure about your question though...
$45 million in my eyes is still a steal. Imagine the cost of any other form of transportation from the top of that "hill" to the district below. Tunneling would cost more than a hundred million. A streetcar wouldn't work going up the hill. Rapid transit buses would require new roads to make a more direct line to the area and possibly a new bridge over the 5, which everyone knows would cost more than $45 million in itself. The tram also floats above traffic and because there are no external factors affecting the run, it will be the most reliable form of transit Portland has ever seen. If this tram can be successfully built I'd like to see more lines connecting downtown to SoWa to the Pearl to Lloyd (although not necessarily in that order).
As for Jack Bog's Blog, he can suck my whatever...he fetches all day long about the tram, and pretty much anything else about Portland he doesn't like. Rather than have OHSU (Portland's largest employeer) continue its expansion on fields in Hillsboro, how would he have connected the districts to OHSU's satisfaction, or would he just have let them walk, and than bitched that the city didn't spend a measly $45 million (the city is actually paying less than half) to accomidate its largest employeer.
Oct 24, 2005, 6:23 PM
It is no easy task getting up to OHSU. Its not like theres a direct boulevard between SoWa and OHSU, its all windy congested roads, only 2 main ways into the campus and once you get down from the hill you have to go into downtown first before you can get to SoWa since I-5, Barbur, Naito Parkway and the Ross Island bridge ramps are in the way. Plus its quite simple, OHSU would not have invested in the South Waterfront without a quality, fast, convient permanent link between the two campuses.
Oct 24, 2005, 8:34 PM
it will take less time to take the tram car down the hill, or up to the hill for that matter, then it will take to walk from your car to your doctor's office AFTER you have found a place to park - which GOOD LUCK..! OHSU should have a bigger presence and better connectivity - those that complain probably just have a fetish to bitch, and cannot put together abstract concepts.
Oct 25, 2005, 12:56 AM
I actually answered my own question from before. It looks like they're starting on the street improvements in the Lair Hill neighborhood. They're moving all of the utilities underground and installing ornamental street lamps to make the neighborhood happy since they'll have this tram going over their houses.
Oct 25, 2005, 3:30 PM
what I wouldn't give to have "bubbles" filled with people flying over my house, and to get utility relocation, streetlamps, a new downtown view, and a ped bridge out of it all...I still have yet to figure out what they are whinning about!
Oct 27, 2005, 6:54 PM
sorry NIMBYs you lose!
Court of appeals upholds dismissal of Portland landowners' tram lawsuit
Salem - The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Southwest Portland landowners opposed to an aerial tram.
The court said the 2002 suit was prematurely filed because, at the time, the city had not selected a route for the tram, which will connect the South Waterfront district and the Marquam Hill campus of Oregon Health & Science University.
The city has since chosen a route and started construction.
Previously, a Multnomah County Circuit judge had dismissed the suit, which sought declarations that the plaintiffs owned the airspace over Southwest Gibbs Street and that they would be due compensation for any lost property value because of the construction of the tram.
The 3,250-foot tram system has sparked controversy from the outset, largely because of opposition by some Lair Hill residents below.
The rising cost of steel recently raised the price tag to as much and $45 million, close to triple the estimated price from three years ago.
Oct 28, 2005, 5:31 AM
I know what you mean. I work a block away from Gibbs right off of Corbett and I think SoWa is going to bring so many connections to that neighborhood. I'm excited for the streetcar and footbridge to be done so I won't have to drive to work anymore! I think Lair Hill will turn into the next 23rd type neighborhood. Which I guess, if you live there, might not be too appealing.
Oct 28, 2005, 9:01 PM
Tram planners get costly lesson
By TODD MURPHY Issue date: Fri, Oct 28, 2005
The first thing officials say about the ever-burgeoning costs of Portland’s yet-to-be-completed aerial tram — now estimated at roughly $42 million, almost triple the original estimates — is this: “Hindsight is 20-20.”
The second thing they say is this: The city and tram planners probably made a mistake in their ballyhooed international competition to design the controversial tram three years ago.
The city and tram planners should have required architects to partner with engineering firms to offer proposals that had more solid estimates of what the tram would cost, said city Commissioner Sam Adams and others.
“Design-build” estimates — rather than just the designs offered by architects alone — might have led tram planners to change some of the more expensive aspects of the tram. Or at least know earlier what they were getting in for, Adams and others said.
“That needs to be chalked up as a mistake and a lesson learned,” said Adams, who joined the City Council this year — more than two years after the council approved the tram — and is the commissioner now in charge of the city’s transportation office, which is responsible for building the tram.
Some of the people who oversaw the tram design competition said they now agree with Adams.
“I don’t necessarily disagree with that, and I’m not sure other board members wouldn’t tend to agree with that also,” said Pat LaCrosse, former president and current board member of the nonprofit Portland Aerial Transportation Inc. The group was set up to oversee the design of the tram, whose construction costs will be mostly borne by Oregon Health & Science University. The tram will link OHSU’s campus on Marquam Hill in Southwest Portland to the South Waterfront development on the Willamette River south of downtown.
LaCrosse said architects were told that the rough expectation for tram costs would be $15 million to $20 million.
But, he said, “The question is, do you say, ‘Design to this absolute number,’ or do you say, ‘We’re sensitive to costs, but we’ll see what you propose and then we’ll work from there.’
“If we’d known where the costs were going to go … it might have been designed differently,” LaCrosse said. But “it’s quite a balancing act between trying to satisfy the desires of the broader community, and certainly the immediate community (under the tram), and at the same time being very sensitive to the costs.”
Either way, LaCrosse said, “We could have not foreseen that the costs would have gotten to where they are.”
How we get there
Adams’ announcement last week that the tram’s costs would be even higher than the $40 million expected six months ago became just another chapter in the story of a transportation device that’s only beginning to be built but probably already is the most controversial in the city’s history.
OHSU leaders wanted city approval for the tram before they committed to expanding the OHSU Marquam Hill campus by constructing research buildings in the South Waterfront development. The tram is expected to be predominantly used by OHSU doctors, researchers and employees as they whisk between the Marquam Hill campus and the South Waterfront buildings.
But the tram has been vociferously opposed by many residents of the Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill neighborhood under its route. Tram cars will run above the neighborhood about every five minutes. Some neighborhood residents still believe the tram will hurt the livability of the historic neighborhood and hurt property values.
When the City Council approved the tram in 2002, the cost estimates for a basic tram were $15.5 million. After the city finalized more construction bids, Adams announced last week that the tram costs would likely rise to at least $42 million, and that the city needed to find an additional $3 million to stock a reserve fund for future cost overruns.
Adams and city planners said the recent cost overruns have occurred in large part because of the skyrocketing costs of steel — the three huge supports for the tram are made of steel — and because of rising costs of other construction materials and labor.
It is far from clear who will pay for the recent $5 million in additional costs.
Through tram and South Waterfront development agreements, OHSU committed to paying for about 60 percent of the original estimated cost of the tram. The cost estimates later rose to $28.5 million in February 2004, then to $40 million in April this year.
OHSU, through payments it will make as part of a local improvement district on Marquam Hill, picked up the recent $11.5 million in additional costs, and was set to pay about 77 percent of the $40 million cost.
But Steve Stadum, OHSU’s chief administrative officer, said this week that “I don’t have any authorization to commit OHSU to additional funding, and I would be surprised if our board would be open to that.” He said he believes city officials are satisfied with OHSU’s commitments to pay roughly $30 million for the construction of the tram.
Among other possible sources of more money: private developers and other entities that have investments in the South Waterfront development, and more money through the tax increment financing sponsored by the Portland Development Commission. The tax increment funds would come from increased property taxes collected from South Waterfront because of the significantly increased value of land since OHSU and other developers started constructing buildings in the area.
“We’re asking all the stakeholders” for possible contributions, Adams said.
The city is facing more than increased costs related to the tram. It also is facing a deadline: The development agreements with OHSU and others call for the city to have the tram built by the end of September 2006 or it can be liable for damages OHSU incurs when it opens its first building in South Waterfront and the tram is not operational.
Oct 30, 2005, 4:34 PM
A pretty good editorial in todays Oregonian:
Adams must rescue tram in mid-sway Despite the cost increase, the project is vital to OHSU and the South Waterfront development (http://www.oregonlive.com/editorials/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/editorial/1130495534123380.xml&coll=7)
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Cost overruns in public projects make taxpayers' blood boil. So it's understandable that Portlanders are, in effect, suffering a kind of altitude sickness over the latest $5 million climb in the price for Oregon Health & Science University's aerial tram.
In three years, as The Oregonian's Fred Leeson reported recently, estimates of the tram's price have nearly tripled, going from $15.5 million to $45 million. Such a breathtaking increase undermines public confidence. However, it's reassuring to know that the proportion of the cost, borne by the public, hasn't grown. Currently, the public's share of the tab is less than 10 percent.
No money from the city's general fund -- used to support police, fire and other city services -- is going into the tram. The public's contribution will come from urban renewal dollars, flowing from the taxable value created by the South Waterfront development.
Exactly who will pay the latest increase isn't clear. Commissioner Sam Adams, who oversees the Transportation Bureau, must work out a fair distribution, without compromising the tram's design or sabotaging the riverside trail, affordable housing and neighborhood amenities that urban renewal dollars are supposed to support. Last spring, when spikes in the cost of steel and concrete first drove the tram's cost up, initially to $40 million, OHSU filled the gap.
OHSU is now in line to finance more than three-quarters of the tram's cost. And that is fair. The best guess is that 85 percent of the tram's riders will be OHSU patients, students and employees. The tram will whisk them from the Marquam Hill campus to new offices and laboratories below in South Waterfront.
Public ridership may be only 15 percent. That should be the upper limit for the public's share of the cost. But other property owners in South Waterfront should help foot the bill for the $5 million increase, too. The tram, after all, is a snazzy selling point for their condos.
The public's benefit from the tram is not confined to riding on it, of course. OHSU, with 11,400 employees, is one of the state's largest employers. By linking OHSU to the South Waterfront, the tram has triggered a $2 billion redevelopment of a rusted-out river front that will soon be an extension of downtown Portland.
Three years ago, when the city guessed -- wildly, it turns out -- that the tram would cost $15.5 million, that number was so rough that it didn't deserve to be treated as a serious estimate. "Soft" costs for design weren't added in. Although nothing exactly like this has been built before, the tram's uniqueness was all the more reason not to raise public expectations about the price without nailing down a realistic figure.
Apparently, the tram is destined to be a leap in every sense. Once it opens, if all goes well, even its most ardent detractors may find their opposition softening when they're gee-whizzing up Marquam Hill in less than three minutes. But if the price keeps leaping, too, public confidence can only plunge. Adams must do everything in his power to make this price the tram's last stop.
Soon, the tram will be a trophy for OHSU, a tourist destination and a true transportation link.
For now, it's a critical test of Sam Adams' leadership.
Adams must rescue tram in mid-sway Despite the cost increase, the project is vital to OHSU and the South Waterfront development (http://www.oregonlive.com/editorials/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/editorial/1130495534123380.xml&coll=7)
Nov 4, 2005, 9:07 PM
hehehee...nasty NIMBYS once again upset.
City, neighbors are poles apart
Burial of utility lines is latest battleground in conflict over tram
By TODD MURPHY Issue date: Fri, Nov 4, 2005
People who soon will live under the route of Portland’s aerial tram believe that it was a tram-related promise made by city leaders.
City leaders don’t remember it that way.
What’s not under dispute is this: A bunch of utility lines and poles that people thought were going to disappear underground in the Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill neighborhood of Southwest Portland — what residents considered one of the few positives to come out of the whole tram experience — now will not be buried after all.
And at least a few residents suggest it’s the first test of how the city will be treating the neighborhood, post-tram. They say the city failed the test.
“What we’re seeing is a pretty shabby job being done for us in terms of undergrounding utilities,” said Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill resident Stephen Leflar. “That’s the first thing that’s come down the road. And it’s pretty disgusting.”
At issue are the utility lines and poles under the route of the $42 million tram, which is scheduled to be completed by October 2006. The tram will link the campus of Oregon Health & Science University on Marquam Hill with the South Waterfront development on the Willamette River south of downtown. The tram cars will pass 100 feet or so over Southwest Gibbs Street.
The utility pole and lines along Gibbs Street would need to be moved at least temporarily to allow for the installation of the tram cables. But neighborhood residents say they remember city commissioners and other officials saying in and outside of public meetings relating to the tram that the city would bury underground permanently not only the utility poles and lines along Gibbs Street, but also poles and lines one-half block in both directions from Gibbs Street.
Instead, the only poles and lines being removed to be put underground are those on Gibbs — directly under the tram route. Other poles and lines are being added on side streets, sometimes within a dozen yards or so of intersections with Gibbs, neighborhood residents say.
“They’re just moving stuff — they’re not undergrounding it,” Leflar said. “That’s not undergrounding. That’s troughing. That’s just creating a trough so they can pull a million pounds of (tram) wire over us.”
In some parts of the neighborhood, utility poles and lines are being added, sometimes to replace poles taken off Gibbs.
For many neighborhood residents, the utility issue exacerbates a frustration that’s existed since the tram — which was opposed by many neighborhood residents and will mostly be used by OHSU employees — was first proposed.
“I think the neighborhood is really quite outraged and disenchanted,” said resident Carol Swanson. “There’s certainly a lack of trust and a sense of a lack of integrity with this process.”
But city leaders say the city is moving forward on important things promised to the neighborhood, including a pedestrian bridge over Barbur Boulevard and Interstate 5 from the neighborhood to the developing South Waterfront area. Federal funds have been secured for the project, and for taking the first required steps to improve some of the problematic roadways and traffic patterns in the neighborhood.
And city leaders say that how broadly the utility poles and lines would be placed underground was never specifically addressed in the City Council resolution approving the tram, or in comments made by city officials during council sessions.
The tram project, which now is going to cost almost triple what the city first estimated, allocated about $750,000 to pay for putting utility lines underground. Burying more than the lines now being buried would be prohibitively expensive, said Art Pearce, a planner with the Portland Office of Transportation.
“It would have been preferable had we had more funding to create a larger area of undergrounding,” Pearce said. “But the project is balancing the benefits of undergrounding with the budget constraints that are in play as well.”
Nov 5, 2005, 12:40 AM
I was wondering what the new utility pole outside of my office was for. I guess this answers that. I'm all for the tram going up, but I'm pretty sure the underground utilities were included in the original plan. That kind of sucks that they're not going to do it all. I wonder what they're going to do about closing off the roads to lay the cables. Or will people just be able to drive over/under them? Hmm...
Nov 23, 2005, 5:41 AM
I had to post this. Perhaps instead of callng the paper the Portland Tribune, they should call it Clackamas County hates Portland Tribune. I am so sick of all of these negative articles they are now running. For a paper that is supposed to be all about Portland, they seem increasingly out of touch with the city. Lets start a campaign to get Phil Stanford fired!
Tram’s sure to take us all for a ride
Like every other citizen of this great city, I can hardly wait till they get that $45 million ski lift for doctors — otherwise known as the aerial tram — up and running.
Not, of course, that I’ll ever have any reason to ride it, you understand.
Any more than I’ve been able, after all these years — even once — to take advantage of the wonders of MAX.
I’d like to, believe me. I don’t particularly like driving. And I think those MAX trains are just cute as all get-out.
The problem is that they’re never going where I want to go.
Which, of course, doesn’t stop me, as a loyal Portlander, from supporting the entire light-rail program — and not just with my tax dollars, but my fervent good wishes as well.
• • •
I mean, who am I to begrudge the $10 or so subsidy paid for each and every passenger who actually does manage to find some place to go on a MAX train?
Like you, I’m sure, I’d much rather have my tax dollars spent on sleek Czech choo-choo trains that I never get to ride than, say, schools or police.
In a less progressive city than our own P-town, it might be another story.
Especially with the schools running short of cash year after year, and the police forced to shut down precinct stations at night, as they have here, because they simply don’t have the money to keep them open.
But if you live in Portland, you really don’t have to think about this light-rail thing twice.
Any more than you do when it comes to building a fancy aerial tram whose sole purpose will be to connect a new real estate development on the river with a privately owned hospital, OHSU, which wants to build some doctors’ offices down there and get the public to foot a good chunk of the bill.
• • •
Of course there’ll always be those naysayers out there, like my friend mad blogger Jack Bogdanski, who say this could have been done another way.
Considering that the hospital is only about a half-mile from the river anyhow, why not just buy a fleet of stretch limos?
Jack figures that for $45 million, which is the latest guess on what the contraption will cost (up from previous estimates of $15.5 million and $28.5 million) it would be possible to buy a fleet that will rival Saudi Arabia’s.
And while we’re at it anyway, what’s wrong with sedan chairs?
However, as I’m sure even Jack himself has begun to realize, that’s just not the way we do things here in Portland.
If I do say so myself, the current plan meets our local standards in so many ways that if I didn’t know better, I might imagine it was actually set up by Neil Goldschmidt before he stepped down as local political boss.
Which, come to think of it, is exactly what happened.
No wonder it’s working out so well.
Contact Phil Stanford by phone at 503-546-5166 or by e-mail at Email Phil Stanford .
Nov 23, 2005, 5:56 AM
I emailed Mr. Stanford tonight and asked him if he ever wrote a posiive column on downtown Portland. I also told him that his columns are getting tiresome with the continued knocking of Portland. He needs to move to Baker City.
Nov 23, 2005, 7:31 AM
The problem is that they’re never going where I want to go.
so i guess that means he's never been to downtown portland, portland neighborhoods, beaverton, hillsboro, gresham, portland airport
...and he writes an article about portland????
actually portland is paying about 1/4 of the tram costs (but thats ok we wont mention that in our article we'll make it sound as if portland is paying for the whole damn thing so we can make it sound worse)
portland would also be paying for the improvements to the narrow, windy and traffic choked road up to OHSU for all those stretch limos
wow I'm so suprised that Jack Bog is his friend because I never would have thought that reading this...:rolleyes:
$10 a ride on MAX??? try $1.54 (http://www.trimet.org/news/pdf/factsheet.pdf)... hmm how much is a ride on MAX?... $1.50-1.80
I guess from the window of his used, and soon to be impounded, limo the city looks bad. The guy won't have the megaphone for to much longer. Then the only time you will have to hear him is at the bar at Hubers lamenting the good ole days. He is a perfect example of a man who should have moved when his city passed him by.
Nov 23, 2005, 4:34 PM
old bastard! Why do I read his column or the Trib for that matter?
Nov 23, 2005, 4:35 PM
I emailed Mr. Stanford tonight and asked him if he ever wrote a posiive column on downtown Portland. I also told him that his columns are getting tiresome with the continued knocking of Portland. He needs to move to Baker City.
AHHH HAAA HAAA, you have to post the response if you get one! I'm sure you will be the focus of next Tuesday column!!!:haha:
Nov 23, 2005, 5:43 PM
$10 a ride on MAX??? try $1.54 (http://www.trimet.org/news/pdf/factsheet.pdf)... hmm how much is a ride on MAX?... $1.50-1.80
He is referring to the amount of money that it costs to build and operate the MAX that is not paid by the end user. If the end user pays $1.50 a ride, he is saying that it should be $11.50 per ride so that the end users are paying for the whole thing.
This dude is way out of control. I thought there were very few people like this in Portland still, and even fewer still lurking in the Portland media.
Nov 23, 2005, 6:09 PM
this nutcase, Phil, works for a nutcase conservative. The Trib, when it actually had a staff, produced some great stories. It also was heavy on development news. Now that they have gutted the staff, and only retained a handful of cranky old men, we get this crap.
FYI-More than half the initial cost to build the MAX was paid by the federal government. There were also 31.9 million MAX trips last year alone.
Nov 23, 2005, 6:16 PM
^ I know that it's a heavily utilized system. And I also know that it probably goes where you want to go and I live in Seattle. I was just clarifying that he wasn't talking about each user paying $10 to ride it - but I can't substantiate his claim of a $10 subsidy.
Nov 23, 2005, 6:46 PM
Just considering the source I'm sure that $10 number is bogus because that would mean TriMet spent $319,000,000 just last year alone, and over a billion dollars in less than 4 years to keep the thing running. If TriMet was spending that type of money to operate the system, I'm not even sure I could support it.
Nov 24, 2005, 5:35 PM
Willamette Weeks takes a swipe at Portland Tribune
Memo to Bob Pamplin: Just because you moved the Portland Tribune to Clackamas County doesn't mean your readers have lost interest in Portland news. As the Portland Art Museum's board chairman, you might have whispered on Thursday to a Trib reporter that you'd issue a press release the next day about the departure of museum executive director John Buchanan. That scoop rated front-page, above-the-fold coverage from The Oregonian on Saturday, an extensive front-page Living story and even a follow-up on Sunday's Metro page. So what did make the front page of Friday's Trib? Such spellbinders as "Young language learners pack the classrooms" and "Unsafe drivers gently curbed."
Nov 25, 2005, 9:54 PM
Our good friend, Mr. Stanford is babbling again about the tram in today's edition of the Anti-Portland Tribune this time about what the tram operators will be wearing. Also theres an article about the crime in downtown (with a big picture of police arresting someone) funny thing is when you read the article you learn that crime is down downtown and theres even a great quote by the owner of kathleen's of dublin "Crime is happening in the (suburban) malls also but we don't hear about that, which is irritating. I think that to be real honest with you, the media has to do a better job of really telling the full story."
Nov 29, 2005, 8:41 PM
Commisioner Sam's blog has a discussion going on about the possible consequences of pulling out of the tram project. Do these people ever stop to consider that you can't put a price on "cool"? :cool:
Nov 29, 2005, 8:57 PM
that Sam is even entertaining this group of 5 to 10 anti Portland everything with his tram discussion is quite a disappointment.
Some of the bloggers over there have even said they don't live in city limits...Why does their opinion matter to Sam when they can't even cast a vote for him one way or another?
Nov 29, 2005, 10:00 PM
This whole debate is really crazy. You're talking about a major piece of transportation infrastructure for the future of the city and people are getting worked up about $45M. That's chump change when amortized over the lifetime of the tram. It's not even about "cool", it's more than that. It's about investing in the public good. I once spent $8M for equipment for a companies IT datacenter that was basically thrown away 3 years later. Where's our priorities?
Everytime I go to Europe I realize what public infrastructre is really about. They think nothing of building a bridge or high speed rail line for a billion or two. Here we have all these selfish whiners crying over $45M. Can you imagine if these people were around when they built the interstate highway network?
Dec 8, 2005, 12:20 AM
Costs may be covered on tram
South Waterfront - A proposed deal has OHSU and the development commission kicking in more money
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Portland and OHSU officials are edging closer to plugging the hole in the ever-expanding budget for an aerial tram.
Records show the city and a negotiating team -- representing both Oregon Health & Science University and developers in the South Waterfront District -- favor the same solutions to fill the most recent $5 million gap.
The tram is now projected to cost $45 million, nearly three times its original budget, to link OHSU's Pill Hill campus with its new building in the South Waterfront District. City Commissioner Sam Adams has scrambled since October to fill the gap through long negotiations with OHSU.
Under the proposed deal, the Portland Development Commission would double its investment with another $3.5 million in property tax dollars from rising values in the district on the western flanks of the Willamette River. OHSU, the tram's primary funder, would kick in another $2.25 million to a total of $33 million, according to city records.
But the tram costs are only part of negotiations still under way. The two sides are debating how to pay for a package of public improvements that are expected to spur $2 billion in public and private redevelopment just south of the Ross Island Bridge.
The City Council wants a package that guarantees funding for a planned streetcar extension into South Waterfront, affordable housing, parks and a riverside greenway, according to a letter the council e-mailed Friday to developers and OHSU officials .
The council's letter responds to a Nov. 22 proposal from OHSU and the developers that covered only the tram and streetcar, two primary keys to attracting condo buyers and OHSU to the district.
All five City Council members signed off on broad terms for the package and asked the Portland Development Commission to work it out with OHSU and developers. The council's terms require the commission to:
Find an unspecified solution to pay for the streetcar extension.
Save about $400,000 on the streetcar extension by laying the tracks at the same time that the street is paved.
Step up efforts on three affordable housing projects. Originally, the development commission wanted to start construction on South Waterfront's first affordable project about two months ago.
South Waterfront's first three condo towers are under construction, but the development commission is just starting negotiations on its first affordable project, said executive director Bruce Warner.
The council wants a response from the Portland Development Commission by 5 p.m. today.
In its letter, the council left the development commission to figure out how to pay for the tram.
But in it's Nov. 22 letter to the city, OHSU's Steven D. Stadum and South Waterfront developer Dike Dame said they had "negotiated a means of curing the funding gap."
The dollar figures matched an earlier city proposal.
City Commissioner Erik Sten, an affordable housing advocate, said he's pushing for a funding package to make sure the tram's cost overruns don't eat up taxpayer money for affordable housing. He says the city is close to a solution, but "we're not there yet."
Rachel MacKnight, an OHSU spokeswoman, said the university will open talks on the package. But she said it's too early to commit to changes in existing agreements. Dame didn't return two phone messages Tuesday from The Oregonian.
Adams has appointed a new full-time tram project manager, Robert Barnard of the city's transportation office, and is calling for an outside audit to search for savings.
Adams, who manages the transportation office, also nominated five new board members to the Portland Aerial Transportation Inc., a private nonprofit corporation that's managing the tram.
Ryan Frank: 503-221-8564; email@example.com
Dec 8, 2005, 8:12 AM
I drove past OHSU building 1 tonight and under the Ross Island bridge there were several giant spools of something. It was dark so I couldn't tell what it was. Perhaps cable for the tram? Might be a little early for that, but... just a guess.
Look up for fixes to all our problems
This is probably as good a time as any to say I’ve seen the error of my ways and have come to support the Portland aerial tram — which, as many of you probably know, I originally opposed, thinking it was nothing but an expensive ski lift for doctors between OHSU and a condo development on the river.
True, at $45 million, the projected cost is now triple the original estimate, and it gives every promise of going even higher.
But as I’ve come to realize, it’s clearly such a good idea for the city as a whole that serious consideration should be given to building not just this one, but many, many more.
For example, how about one from OHSU to City Hall, so the good doctors can drop by at discrete intervals to pay their respects to the City Council members who approved this excellent project?
And from there, perhaps to the Pearl — say, the front door of the armory, where the taxpayers are fronting a $10 million theater for former Mayor Vera Katz’s favorite musical comedy troupe.
Surely, our commissioners, no less than the doctors on the hill, deserve to get from point to point in this city without having to endure the indignity of a ride through traffic.
• • •
And if even I can see the merits of this exciting 18th-century mode of transportation, imagine what the bright guys and gals who came up with the idea in the first place are thinking now.
Of course, we’ll need one to the convention center — and the new convention center hotel, which the visionaries over at the PDC would like to build with $800 million in public money.
And from there, by golly, how about an express tram straight to another well-known city money pit, PGE Park?
If you think those conventioneers are going to flock to Portland to just to stay in a hotel, think how crazy they’ll be to come here when they hear there’s an aerial tram link to a Triple-A baseball game.
And that’s just for starters. Once you really understand the concept, it’s not much to imagine the entire Rose City crisscrossed with a veritable network of aerial trams.
As former Mayor Katz once said: Why, it could be our picture postcard.
• • •
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: This could probably get a little expensive.
That’s what I thought at first, too.
But once you really understand this thing, it’s easy to see that the guys over at the PDC had it figured out long ago when they created all those urban renewal districts.
When you set up an urban renewal district, all the new tax money generated by the increased values goes to PDC-picked projects, like the tram.
In fact, about the only drawback that I can see is that once that happens, then none of the money so generated can be used for less glamorous projects like schools or law enforcement.
But let us not quibble.
What we obviously need to do here, if we are to make this aerial tram network a reality, is declare the entire city an urban renewal district.
Of course, we’ll probably ending up having to pay the startup costs ourselves, as we already have with the doctors’ ski lift. And who knows how much more in infrastructure costs?
But what’s a few more million when it comes to progress like this?
Contact Phil Stanford by phone at 503-546-5166 or by e-mail at Email Phil Stanford
Dec 9, 2005, 6:33 PM
Please don't post any more Standford, my head exploded after reading it and now someones going to have to clean it up.
Anything we can do about this guy? The guy is stuck in a time warp. I'm not sure what the hell he wants other then complete and utter stagnation or maybe 1950's PDX back.
Dec 9, 2005, 7:32 PM
^I think I will collect my kitty's crap in a paper bag and light it on fire on his Clackamas County office doorstep!
Seriously though, Phil might be onto something. For a fraction of the cost of other major mass transit projects, more of these trams could be built to get people around the city. I would much rather fly around town in my Aerial Tram, than be stuck in a streetcar waiting 45 minutes to go the same distance the tram can go in 10. I'm not knocking the streetcar, mind you, but for those that don't need the frequent stops a tram that runs from SoWa, to two locations in the core, to a spot in the Pearl, up to NW for the first "line" would actually be quite cool.
Talking about a 21st century city. Can you just imagine people floating around Portland in bus size bubbles? That is a skyline shot!
Dec 9, 2005, 8:24 PM
Clearly Phil Stanford is insane. My only wish for him is to move to another city that shares his views. If he hates Portland so much, why is he still here. Maybe they can find him a job in Houston or Atlanta.
We could build the first new tram directly over Standfords home. The Clackamas to Gresham line or "I like Mayberry" line.
Dec 10, 2005, 12:16 AM
Coming down off the hill this morning, I saw what may have been the first piece of the crane for the upper terminal. There has been a lot happening at the work site, so hopefully the rest will be up soon. It's just behind the Casey Eye Institute.
Dec 10, 2005, 7:14 AM
the tram is so out of this world...or at least the pacific nw - i cannot wait to flip all those nay sayers the finger while i ride the tram up and down on the weekends for the most amazing view of the city, the river, the mountains, the eastside and the highrise buildings in SOWA. get your t-shirts and keychain patents ready for sale at the tram landing.
Dec 11, 2005, 12:01 AM
^I agree crow, this tram is groundbreaking. For the cost, and I still think 45mil is a steal, we will probably see more cities studying ours. San Francisco and Seattle, with all their hills are perfect locations!
Dec 11, 2005, 12:07 AM
There was an aerial tram proposed in the 1970s to go up Kelly Butte as one of the goodies for getting the Mt. Hood Freeway built. Also one was proposed in the 1970s to connect the two parts of Washington Park together.
Dec 20, 2005, 8:35 AM
Coming down off the hill this morning, I saw what may have been the first piece of the crane for the upper terminal. There has been a lot happening at the work site, so hopefully the rest will be up soon. It's just behind the Casey Eye Institute.
Just noticed this afternoon that most of the crane is up at the upper tram tower, maybe by now its completely up. :cool:
Go By Tram
Dec 21, 2005, 8:52 PM
I can see out my office window that the crane is up!
Dec 22, 2005, 6:10 PM
PDC, OHSU pursue deal for tram cost overruns
Business Journal staff writer
Negotiators are back at work after unexpectedly high bids to build an aerial tram between Marquam Hill and the South Waterfront bumped the price to $45 million.
City Commissioner Sam Adams, who inherited the tram project when he won a spot on the City Council a year ago, said all options are being considered as the cost rose to nearly three times the original estimate and significantly above the most recent estimate of $40 million.
The latest bump in costs sent the city and its tram partners, which include Oregon Health & Science University and the major property owners developing luxury condominiums around the base of the tram, back to the negotiating table to fund the gap.
The city recently assigned the task of negotiating tram- and waterfront-related matters to the Portland Development Commission and has expanded the scope of the discussions. Besides reaching a decision on how to fully fund the tram, the parties must now address low-income housing in the South Waterfront and other issues.
A much-amended development agreement between the parties is facing an eighth revision.
The tram itself has a new project manager -- Robert Barnard, a city architect who will devote full time to the project. His predecessor, Don Irwin, a TriMet employee, was managing it on a part-time basis.
Adams enlisted Barnard after TriMet indicated it needed Irwin's attention on other projects.
"It was clear to me that we needed a full-time project manager," said Adams, who describes the tram as a project in "crisis" because of the rising cost.
He makes no secret that he thinks mistakes were made in developing an alpine-style system to convey people and equipment between the OHSU's hilltop campus and its new health center down below. The city conducted an international design competition and selected a design by a Los Angeles architect.
It then solicited bids from contractors, which is when costs started rising in part because of rising steel costs.
"As I've said before, this should have been a design-build contest, not just a design contest," he said, adding that the original projected cost of $15 million-plus never was realistic.
Nonetheless, the various elements have been bid by contractors and construction of the upper and lower terminals is under way, as is grading for the midway tower and the eventual pedestrian bridge at Interstate 5.
Barnard, the new project manager, is an architect and manager in the Portland Office of Transportation with much experience in complicated transportation projects. He worked on projects in the Lloyd District as well as the Oregon Convention Center and the Eastbank Esplanade.
He is one of six newcomers who collectively are adding business, auditing and engineering experience to the Portland Aerial Transportation Inc. board. The city commissioned the nonprofit board to oversee the tram's construction.
New board members include Devon Pearce, a former auditor with TriMet; George Passadore, the retired head of Wells Fargo Bank in Oregon; Harriett Cormack of the Housing Authority of Portland; engineer Marcele Alcantar; and Ted Aaland of Wildish Construction.
"I wanted to bring in some fresh eyes and ears," Adams said.
As a potential residential site, the neighborhood has been well received. Three luxury condominium projects are in construction by Gerding/Edlen Development Co. and its partners. The Atwater hasn't been placed on the market, but the first two are 98 percent and 70 percent sold, respectively.
City leaders however are growing impatient to see progress on a low-income residential project, which was to have begun in early October. It is stalled, however, because the PDC has not been able to secure land, according to a memo issued by Mayor Tom Potter earlier this month.
The letter, initialed by four of five city commissioners, demands that OHSU and the property owners show progress by the end of the year.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-219-3415
Dec 31, 2005, 5:26 PM
Here's a great letter sent into the Portland Tribune by a reader regarding Phil & the Tram:
Public’s share of tram bill is small
I am an employee of Oregon Health & Science University. However, this is a personal opinion and does not represent the opinion of OHSU.
In your Dec. 9 issue, Phil Stanford continued his mysterious hatefest against OHSU and the aerial tram project (Look up for fixes to all our problems, On the Town). Stanford apparently has no interest in truth when it interferes with his blathering crusades, but here are some facts.
The public-funding portion for the overall tram project, which includes a variety of neighborhood improvements, is $3.5 million from the Portland Development Commission. This is less than 8 percent of the project cost. Stanford implies that the public funding has increased dramatically. When the costs of the project increased because of more neighborhood improvement commitments, sharply higher steel prices, a weakening U.S. dollar, safety improvements and the addition of a contingency fund, the increase was covered by OHSU.
Contrary to Stanford’s claim, the tram actually will connect OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus with the future OHSU Center for Health & Healing and OHSU Schnitzer Campus. These planned facilities along with the South Waterfront river blocks project will result in roughly 10,000 new jobs and involve private investment of nearly $2 billion (yes, billion). The city’s $3.5 million investment in the tram project is less than the cost of any of a number of small road repair projects.
OHSU’s new campus became necessary because there is literally no space left on Marquam Hill. The last two buildings constructed on the hill were built running down steep hillsides. The waiting time for an assigned parking space on the hill is more than five years.
While Stanford will doubtlessly continue his tirades against OHSU and all the horrible things associated with it (education, research, doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, children’s hospital), the national and international communities have also taken much notice of the both tram project and OHSU’s plans for growth. They have praised both for their innovation.
When Stanford’s rage finally results in a stroke or heart attack, the dedicated professionals at OHSU will be ready with the best possible care.
Dec 31, 2005, 9:42 PM
I like this guy's response..
Jan 11, 2006, 5:32 AM
I was leaving the office today and took this picture of the crane for the tram station at the top of the hill. The quality is kind of crappy cause I took it with my phone sitting in my car. I thought it kind of looked like a UFO or something.
Jan 11, 2006, 4:30 PM
I'm just getting a red x for that pic
City needs more time to check its tram math
Portland - The PDC doesn't want to raise its contribution until it nails down a price -- now standing at $45 million
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
City officials say they need another three weeks to figure out exactly how much its aerial tram will cost even as crews build foundations for the link between the South Waterfront district and Oregon Health & Science University.
The tram's construction has badgered City Hall for 21/2 years. The city-owned project broke its deadline and busted its budget. It's scheduled to open six months behind schedule, a timeline that might be extended again, and its price has nearly tripled to an estimated $45 million.
Leaders at the Portland Development Commission say they don't want to raise their contribution - now $3.5 million - until they know for sure what the tram costs. The commission, a semi-independent city agency, hired Pinnell Busch, a Portland-based construction management consultant firm, to search for savings and verify the city's transportation office cost estimate.
"We need to have a lot more confidence in the cost and the size of the problem we're addressing," said Larry Brown, a senior development manager at the development commission. "We really need to bring some outside expertise and fresh eyes to look at the project."
OHSU has worked on the tram idea since the 1990s. The City Council approved the idea in 2002, a move that persuaded the hospital to give up thoughts of a Hillsboro expansion in favor of the South Waterfront. The hospital's decision triggered $2 billion in private and public investments in the former industrial district.
At the time, city transportation staff said the tram would cost $15.5 million. But they left out contingency funds and fees for engineers and architects. Prices for steel, concrete and labor rose. And the tram's iconic design proved far more costly than anyone imagined.
Two years later, the cost surged to $28.5 million. In 2005, it hit $40 million. At that price, the city had a plan to pay for it.
OHSU, a public corporation that receives a slim part of its budget from the state, would pay $30.7 million. South Waterfront property owners would pay about $5.7 million through a local improvement district created to collect a special fee for the tram.
And property taxpayers within the North Macadam urban-renewal district would pay $3.5 million, up from $2 million originally.
Today, that leaves it $5 million short. That's where Pinnell Busch comes in.
Among its tasks, the firm will check the city's construction schedule. The tram was originally supposed to be done in March. But crews are now sprinting against the Sept. 30 deadline. The project is 31/2 months behind schedule, according to development commission documents.
Pinnell Busch will help figure out how much extra it would cost to meet the deadline.
"Sept. 30 is pretty optimistic," Don Gardner, the city's director of transportation engineering, acknowledges.
The firm's first report is due Jan. 31.
After that, the development commission will restart negotiations with people who represent two of the tram's primary funders: Steve Stadum, OHSU's chief administrative officer, and South Waterfront developer Dike Dame.
When they last left the tram, both sides favored the same idea to fill the $5 million gap. Under the proposal, the Portland Development Commission would double its investment to $7 million in property tax dollars. OHSU would kick in another $2.25 million.
Ryan Frank: 503-221-8564; email@example.com
Anytime PDC is involved I get nervous. Their track record over the last five years is horrible. They just can't seem to get their act together, taking way too much time for basic tasks. When is the last time they built something that ran smoothly (or built something for that matter)?
^^ I was wondering about that recently (PDC over the last 5 or so years). I took the last 15 minutes searching PDC's website and the web for recent projects they have been a part of. I am assuming I must have missed a lot--but for the quick search the list is long. I also don't know what their involvement included in many of the projects. But here is the list:
Meier & Frank Hotel Conversion
Museum Place (Safeway)
Classical Chinese Gardens
Portland Saturday Market
Oregon Convention Center
It would make an interesting topic to keep track of all the projects PDC touches.
Jan 12, 2006, 4:55 AM
I'll spare you all posting it but Phil is still attacking the tram (and Portland) in yesterdays edition of the anti-portland tribune
Jan 12, 2006, 5:14 AM
I read it...does he actually live in the city? I would like his lips to meet my ass.
Jan 12, 2006, 4:27 PM
^what was it this time? I just read one from last Friday, or maybe it was Tuesdays where he was concerned about the "ill" people involved in the BioScience studies taking the tram.
Because we all know people with Diabetes, Cancer, an amputated limb, or AIDS to name a few, will get everyone else on board sick. He should be fired for such a dumb assed offensive comment!
Speaking of ass, one must ask what Stanford did to survive the great tribune purge of 2005. Could explain why he's so angry.
Jan 12, 2006, 5:19 PM
How flimsy math, shaky design and scorching steel prices tripled tram costs in three years
Thursday, January 12, 2006
On an August afternoon full of congratulations, the City Council opened the doors in 2003 to prime riverfront for Portland's biggest economic development deal in history.
The landmark $1.9 billion project hung on a $15.5 million aerial tram to tie the South Waterfront neighborhood to OHSU's Pill Hill. The council unanimously jumped on for the ride.
What the council didn't know when it approved the tram: That steel prices would rise by more than 85 percent. That the original design, while attractive, was an engineering joke. That the $15.5 million budget for this engineering feat was practically pulled from thin air, a financial analysis less complete than what's required to build a city street. And that 21/2 years later, some people would look at what's now a $45 million tram and shake their heads.
"Whether it was the budget or a guess, it was way off," says Commissioner Erik Sten. "You can't guess one-third and be credible."
The sad story is, tram managers knew early on that the original budget wouldn't cover it. But no one made that clear to the council until later.
The tram's approval set in motion the city's dream project. OHSU agreed to stay in the city and seed the new South Waterfront, which in turn attracted developers to plant high-rise condos and shops. Where the city had spent years trying to rebuild the mostly vacant industrial and warehouse district, a revived riverfront and a Pearl District cousin would take root.
Few suggest stopping the tram now -- it's scheduled to fly in September. But there's plenty to learn from how things went so wrong.
Mix billions of dollars, political reputations, development pressures, untested designs, budget guesstimating and unpredictable steel price increases, and you get one expensive miscalculation.
The tram's bottom station east of Interstate 5 sounds like the middle act of a musical. Diesel engines growl. Backhoes beep as they back up. Workers in hard hats weave around cement trucks.
Three cranes, two condo shells and OHSU's bulky 16-story research and medical building race for the sky. South Waterfront condos will outprice those in the Pearl at $477 a square foot and will outreach them, with buildings stretching 20-plus stories and million-dollar views of Mount Hood.
Vic Rhodes, a consultant who manages the work for the nonprofit Portland Aerial Transportation Inc., crunches over gravel on Moody Avenue near the lower station. The tram will dock between OHSU's new building and the Zidell Marine Corp. barge-building operation.
"Combat zone," Rhodes grumbles, dodging bicyclists and a dump truck that cut down Moody.
Up Gibbs, workers burrow through dirt for the middle tower's platform. From here, it's 2,900 feet up Marquam Hill to dock at OHSU.
The city attracted all this with the promise of $72 million toward the tram and public improvements. No single thing will cost more than the tram. Mayor Tom Potter, who inherited the project, worries the rising cost could eat up taxpayer's money for those improvements -- parks, a riverfront greenway and affordable housing.
For the tram, South Waterfront property taxpayers originally were on the hook for $2 million through urban renewal. That's now $3.5 million, a figure that could double, according to city documents. South Waterfront property owners also will share at least $5.7 million in still more taxes. OHSU, a public corporation that gets just under 4 percent of its operating budget from the state, will pitch in at least $30.7 million.
That leaves $5 million unpaid.
The tram sprang from two converging desires: OHSU's expansion pressures and the city's vision of a vibrant riverfront.
Crimped roads have choked off the hospital for more than a decade, says Steve Stadum, OHSU's chief administrative officer. So it looked to its Hillsboro campus to expand.
Reputations rode on the tram's success. Then-Mayor Vera Katz and the council, tagged as anti-business after Columbia Sportswear's flight to Washington County in 2001, couldn't lose the expansion. Katz also had adopted South Waterfront as key to her efforts to rebuild the city, along with the Eastbank Esplanade and the Pearl District.
But first, how to connect Pill Hill to the river: Shuttle buses? Cheap but circuitous, as long as 17 minutes in rush hour by 2020. A tram would cost more up front and more in annual maintenance, but the trip? A direct shot in less than three minutes.
The facts made it clear, the tram was the way to go. OHSU, Katz and the council shook on the phonebook-size agreement in 2003.
For Gordon Davis, that was a problem.
Buried in the pages was a figure Davis never thought would get that far: Tram total project costs, $15.5 million.
Davis, an OHSU consultant, and Matt Brown, a mid-level city manager, got the job to pencil out a budget for competing architects to design a tram. Neither had ever worked on a tram. Davis' expertise was planning and architecture; Brown's, managing city transportation projects.
They relied on a tram engineer's preliminary study to decide a bare-bones tram would run about $10 million. But a bare-bones design wouldn't do. The city wanted an icon for the skyline and people under the tram's path -- already balking at the very idea -- wouldn't stand for an eyesore.
To pay for the cool look, Davis and Brown padded the budget with a "reasonable" design premium of $5.5 million. No detailed engineering research. No line-item budget. No basis in reality.
Davis and Brown meant the number as a rough target for architects.
But OHSU's Stadum, South Waterfront developer Dike Dame, and Portland Development Commission executives plunked $15.5 million into their spreadsheets.
Davis grew nervous as the guesstimate looked more like a guarantee.
"Someone grabbed onto that figure like the word of God," Davis says. "But there wasn't a whole lot that went into that number that was precise."
He called Stadum, a tram board member and a lead negotiator on the deal, to clear up the math. Davis says he left a voice mail at Stadum's office warning that the budget was probably $5 million to $8 million low. Stadum, for his part, says he doesn't remember the message.
The architect saw red, too. After her Los Angeles firm won the design competition, Sarah Graham flagged tram managers in April 2003 that she couldn't build it for $15.5 million. The figure covered only construction, she said. Nothing for contingency funds. Nothing to pay architects and engineers. Those things, basic to any transportation project, would run as much as $8 million. That was news to some, most noteworthy to OHSU's Stadum. Though aware of the budget holes, Stadum says, Portland Aerial Transportation Inc. stuck with the original until it had a final design.
Graham nearly walked away over the dispute that followed. In June 2003, she traded e-mails with Brown and Rhodes, the tram consultant.
Graham: "I would interpret that you will have to get the players to come up with more funding for the tram BEFORE the agreement is signed or we are collectively out of luck. Yes?"
Rhodes: "I think we go with $15.5 and fix it later," once the design is fleshed out to give cost estimators something real to work from.
Months earlier, Brown realized the budget was "likely too low to accommodate the project," he said in a memo. But Brown hoped they could hold down costs to make up for the mistakes. He wrote: "On the $15.5, this is clearly something that we can amend later." Stadum, Dame and the PDC had negotiated details for "over a year and will not contemplate changes to the budget at this time."
Two months later, minutes after the council's OK, Brown looked them in the eyes and talked about a "$15.5 million tram."
In November 2003, the increases rolled in. Two professional cost estimators pegged the budget at $24 million and $30 million. That didn't please Commissioner Dan Saltzman.
He later complained at a council meeting about Portland Aerial Transportation Inc. "I sat here and asked the chairman of PATI several times whether $15.5 million was the real number and was assured that," Saltzman said. "I'm still holding out for $15.5 million. That's the cost that was presented to us, the City Council, to PDC, to OHSU, to North Macadam developers. We should be able to deliver a first-class tram at that cost."
After Saltzman finished, Katz spoke up but didn't touch the bulging budget. She focused on how the tram would fit in with its surroundings. Then-Commissioner Jim Francesconi, the council's transportation manager, disputed Saltzman, saying $15.5 million was for an unadorned "ski lift"-type tram that neighbors wouldn't like.
Saltzman fired back: "Nobody told me I was authorizing only a ski lift."
The tram advocates wanted to deflect attention from the numbers. In April 2004 John Mangan, a public relations consultant they hired, coached them to spin the story: Stay unified in messages of design excellence, engineering integrity, community responsiveness and safety.
"The obsession with our budget," he said in a memo, "seems to be subsiding."
Not for long.
The cost kept surging by millions. As the architect drew a more detailed picture, her minimalist design complicated things.
The tram's parts could move a mere three-quarters of an inch under the cable's 1 million pounds of pressure with winds at 50 mph. That meant more money for concrete, steel and time to put it together.
At the lower station, for example, the cost for pilings per foot jumped at the same time engineers required additional pilings.
The result: The foundation's cost tripled in less than a year.
Today, as construction crews drill holes for the Pill Hill station, no one knows who will get stuck with the tram's $5 million bump announced in October -- taxpayers, OHSU or developers.
South Waterfront developer Homer Williams says that when Portlanders can ride the tram high above the condo towers to take in views of Mount Hood, few people will remember the price tag. They'll care only that it helped build South Waterfront. Developers already have started construction on four buildings worth $670 million.
"We may have a bump of a few million bucks on the tram," Williams says. "But it's going great. We shouldn't lose sight of what we're doing."
Even so, the mayor plans a review of what he calls serious mistakes. "I don't know anybody that entered into this to deceive anybody," Potter says. "I sort of think it was cocktail-napkin designing."
Davis, the OHSU consultant, moved on from the tram nearly three years ago. He lives in the Pearl but works mostly with California developers. Brown left the city in December and now works for South Waterfront developers Williams and Dame.
In hindsight, Brown can't ignore the mistakes. "It's hard looking at it now and seeing things that look so obvious," he says. "But at the end of the day, what it's producing for the city and what keeps me sane about this, is that I know there's going to be 5,000 good jobs.
"I wish it didn't cost $45 million."
Ryan Frank: 503-221-8564; firstname.lastname@example.org
"A new Sauvie Island Bridge is expected to cost between $33 million and $37 million" So were about to spend 37 million on a bridge, is that going to generate 670 million in new development? People need to put this in perspective. The only reason its a story is because the Tram is something new. No one blinks an eye over a 45million dollar interchange.
Jan 13, 2006, 1:46 AM
theres also 5 pdf images available about the tram project at oregonlive and a few smaller paragraphs about the tram
To dream the immoderate dream
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Steve Duin - Oregonian
Back in the winter of 1998, when he was just another Portland Democrat in the Legislature, Randy Leonard received a call from Peter Kohler, the president of Oregon Health & Science University, inviting him on a tour of his hilltop realm.
Leonard and Kohler were on the OHSU skybridge when Kohler pointed down toward the wastelands along the Willamette, 3,000 feet below, and said, "We're going to build a tram here." When Leonard posed the obvious question -- "To where?" -- Kohler described a riverside medical and research center and the ski lift that would connect it to Pill Hill.
"It's a dream of ours," Leonard recalls Kohler saying. "It's something we believe in."
Eight years later, Leonard is a Portland city commissioner, staring slack-jawed at the runaway running tab for the tram. The initial $15.5 million estimate has almost tripled, and Leonard says the final cost may be "closer to $60 million."
Leonard is insistent that the city's obligation doesn't increase by a single dollar: "I've told OHSU they need to pay for it. This was their vision. I can't justify paying a cent beyond what the city committed to. It's basically a transportation system to serve OHSU, and we're on the hook for the cost.
"Maybe it's time to go to OHSU and the developers and say, 'Let's pull the plug. Cut our losses.' This is destroying our credibility with the public."
Credibility? In the aftermath of reporter Ryan Frank's inPortland story this morning on the tram -- non-Portland-area readers can find the piece under local news at www. oregonlive.com -- the demolition may be complete.
Frank reports the original $15.5 million estimate for the tram was the earnest fantasy of an OHSU consultant, Gordon Davis, and the city's Matt Brown, two guys who'd never previously worked on a similar project.
That figure was seized upon by OHSU executive Steve Stadum and developer Dike Dame, two gentlemen with the most at stake in the South Waterfront and the two Portland Aerial Transportation Inc. board members who were most vocal about the moral imperative of staying on budget.
Tram supporters then hired a spinmeister to keep the ballooning cost hidden behind smoke and mirrors. And months after Brown knew the $15.5 million figure was wishful thinking, he continued to promote that pricetag to Portland's City Council.
"There's a huge difference between an honest mistake and deliberately misleading," Brown said. "At the time we brought that to council, we hadn't done a lick of design. On what basis could I modify the number?"
Gut instinct? Fair warning? As Commissioner Erik Sten said, "I don't run from developing that area -- it's a good move for the city -- but why can't we do it straight up?"
South Waterfront fans argue the city will, in the long run, capture significant tax revenue on the $1.9 billion project. That may be true, but OHSU does not pay property taxes, and the Schnitzer family's donation of 19.5 riverfront acres to the university flipped a huge chunk of the property from taxable to nontaxable status.
What's increasingly clear is that astute, hardball negotiating by OHSU and the typically mushy acquiescence of the Portland Development Commission resulted in OHSU committing to spending $30.7 million on the tram -- though only $4 million in cash -- while the city invested $72 million on the skyway and public improvements along the river.
Leonard is now determined to negotiate in kind. "We made a commitment early on, and we're stuck with that commitment," he says, "but anything beyond that, we won't do.
"There isn't a minute possibility that OHSU will let us yank the footings out from under them. This has been their dream for 10 years. They'll come up with the money. They'll have the tram come hell or high water."
Jan 13, 2006, 4:42 AM
Cab...I couldn't agree with you more. $45-$50 million for a transit project is chump change. These newspaper people and certain city officials need to get real... The whole concept from beginning to end is currently being realized. What Portland doesn't need is for the cities largest employer to expand to Hillsboro instead of the city...that was on OHSU's agenda...this project saved the major part of OHSU for Portland...an institution that is destined to become a world recognized leader in medical research and development.
Jan 17, 2006, 7:16 PM
Planners declare tram must go on
Project passes ‘point of no return’ as consultant eyes cost
By JIM REDDEN Issue date: Tue, Jan 17, 2006
The Tribune Although the city has hired a consulting firm to determine a final cost estimate for the Oregon Health & Science University aerial tram, there is virtually no chance the project will be canceled no matter how high the tab climbs.
“We passed the point of no return a long time ago,” said Art Pearce, project coordinator for the Portland Office of Transportation, which is managing the project.
The tram will connect two OHSU-related buildings, a biomedical research building on the university’s Marquam Hill campus and the Center for Health and Healing in the South Waterfront area that will be owned by the nonprofit OHSU Medical Group.
OHSU insisted on the tram before approving construction of the South Waterfront building, which is expected to help inspire up to $2 billion in private investment in the area by 2010.
The estimated cost of the tram has increased from about $8 million when it was proposed in 2001 to $15.5 million when the City Council approved it in 2003 to $40 million today — $45 million if you include an as-yet-unbudgeted contingency fund.
The Portland Development Commission has retained the Pinnell Busch management consulting firm to review the project and provide an independent cost estimate later this month or early next month.
Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Sam Adams, who is in charge of the Transportation Office, have promised to investigate why the original estimates were so low. But even if the Pinnell Busch estimate is significantly higher than $45 million, Pearce said, the city is committed to finishing the project. More than $10 million has been spent on the two construction firms hired to build the tram, Pearce said. Much of the money paid for steel for the project.
“The steel has been purchased and is sitting on the floor of the supplier or is being fabricated to meet the project specifications,” Pearce said. “It can’t be returned.” He declined to speculate about whether any of the steel could be resold.
In addition, Portland is legally obligated to complete the tram this year. The South Waterfront Central District Project Development Agreement signed by the city, OHSU and area property owners requires the city to deliver a working tram by September. Pearce said that if the project is not completed on time, OHSU Medical Group could sue the city.
“The two buildings are designed to be able to move patients back and forth quickly on the tram,” he said. “If the doctors can’t use their offices as designed, there’s the possibility of suing for damages.”
Other key players involved with the project agreed that it is too late to stop construction. OHSU spokeswoman Lora Cuykendall said there are no circumstances that would prompt the teaching university to support canceling the project. OHSU has invested millions of dollars in the buildings at both ends of the tram route that specifically were designed to accommodate it, said Cuykendall, director of OHSU news and publications.
South Waterfront developer Homer Williams also said it’s too late to cancel the project.
“The bottom line is, this is going to be built,” said Williams, whose company, Williams & Dane, also owns property in the South Waterfront area. “The city needs to buckle down and get it done.”
City’s share is unchanged
Pearce, Cuykendall and Williams all stressed that only a small portion of the tram budget is coming from Portland taxpayers. The City Council has agreed to spend $3.5 million in urban renewal property tax dollars on the project.
Of the remaining amount, $30.5 million is coming from the property owners at both ends of the tram — a little more than $24.7 million from a local improvement district formed by OHSU and just under $5.8 million from a local improvement district formed by the South Waterfront property owners.
OHSU is putting an additional $4 million in cash and $2 million in energy tax credits into the project.
So far, the city has not increased its $3.5 million commitment to the project. When the cost estimate jumped from $15.5 million to $40 million, OHSU increased its local improvement district share by nearly $11.5 million.
Williams said that even if costs go up and the city puts more money into the project, Portland taxpayers still will end up paying only a fraction of the total.
“People talk like the public is paying for the entire project, but that’s just not the case,” Williams said.
Jan 24, 2006, 8:13 PM
Tram ouster sparks backlash
Manager’s dismissal sparks complaints, board resignations
By NICK BUDNICK Issue date: Tue, Jan 24, 2006
The Tribune City Commissioner Sam Adams’ abrupt ouster of Vic Rhodes last week as director of the OHSU tram project may help Adams in the eyes of the public. But it alienated key players in the project and, some say, has sent a wave of distrust rippling through Portland’s business community.
Adams is standing his ground: “This has been a poorly managed project. I’ve had it seven months, and I made it clear from the very beginning that I was not happy with the way that his project was managed.”
So far, those resigning from the tram board in protest of Rhodes’ forced resignation include Oregon Museum of Science and Industry President Nancy Stueber, developer Dike Dame and Pat Lacrosse, one of the town’s business heavyweights and former executive director of the Portland Development Commission.
“Any mistakes that were made were made before he came on,” Lacrosse says of Rhodes. “I don’t think he did anything wrong.”
One of the most vocal critics of the decision doesn’t sit on the board: developer Homer Williams, Dame’s partner, an investor in Rhodes’ consulting business and a major contributor to Adams’ 2004 council campaign.
The story buzzing around town late last week was that Williams, shouting at Adams over the phone last Thursday, called Adams a liar — at which point Adams hung up.
Adams confirms the shouting but says the overall story is inaccurate. Asked which part, the “liar” or the hang-up, was inaccurate, he would not say.
Williams won’t discuss how the conversation ended, but he says it started with him complaining that Rhodes was being scapegoated, saying: “Sam, this is politics. This is about headlines. This isn’t about getting the job done.” Adds Williams, “The conversation went downhill from there. Things were said that shouldn’t have been.”
Why the fuss? Because Jan. 17, at a meeting of the tram board, Adams, reacting to an article that had appeared in The Oregonian the week before, directed the board to demand Rhodes’ resignation.
The article detailed how the construction costs for the tram connecting OHSU with the South Waterfront District grew from $15.5 million to 45 million. So far, the city’s share remains only $3.5 million, money that will be generated by taxes off the new buildings in the South Waterfront project. The vast majority of the overruns will be paid by Oregon Health & Science University and landowners, though who will pay for the latest $5 million in cost overruns is still up in the air.
Adams says the figure could end up being $50 million or more, and though he acknowledges that worldwide market forces have affected other city construction contracts, too, he argues that there were things that could have been done to control the price.
He also says that public perception played a role in his move.
“In a project surrounded with so much mistrust, in a project whose price has ballooned more than any other project that I’ve seen, I’ve got to do everything I can to bring a measure of trust back to the project.”
Move leaves many shaken
Greg Baldwin, a prominent Portland architect who now is considering whether to resign from the tram board, says his biggest concern about Adams’ move is the precedent it sets.
The nonprofit board that oversees the project, Portland Aerial Tram Inc., known as PATI, is a public-private partnership including OHSU and landowners as well as neighborhood representatives. He says for Adams to dictate how the partnership would treat Rhodes, who was their employee, was wrong.
Arrangements like this have helped build Portland, ranging from Pioneer Courthouse Square to the Pearl District, he said, and “this is the first time where one of the partners has essentially gone out and I think really undermined the ability of the other partners to work within that partnership.”
John Perry, an architect who was named to the board as a citizen representative, says he thinks the entire board shared Baldwin’s concern. As for who considered resigning, “I think probably everybody did consider it,” he says.
Williams, the developer, also shares Baldwin’s concern, saying, “In this environment, to try to do South Waterfront would be extraordinarily difficult … but my concern is for the city. You can’t have people devote their lives, and then just step on them.”
A well-connected land-use consultant, who would speak only off the record for fear of retribution, said political posturing over the tram is contributing to “growing concern” among developers “about doing business with the city.”
Adams says he’s not worried: “Reputable developers have nothing to fear from partnering with the city if they make a good-faith effort to be accountable and honest.”
Before joining the tram project Rhodes was the city’s transportation director, with 32 years of service and a good reputation in the development community.
E-mail gets scrutiny
The Oregonian article detailed the history of the tram, which was touted as a way to keep OHSU from moving to Hillsboro. The two-thirds-of-a-mile-long connector project was the key to opening up development of the South Waterfront project.
According to the piece, in 2003 Rhodes and city employee Matt Brown failed to tell the City Council that architect Sarah Graham believed the total tram price tag would be more than the $15.5 million initially budgeted. Documents showed that while she felt the tram could be built for $15.5 million, the number did not cover the “soft costs” of design and contingency, which were expected to range between $2 million and $3.5 million. Graham wanted the contract figure increased to reflect that, but Rhodes, supported by Brown, rejected the idea, telling her they would stick to the original amount and “fix it later.”
Rhodes and Brown say the line was taken out of context. That context was predesign negotiations with the architect, who was paid as a percentage of the overall construction cost. Brown says that in those negotiations, the tram board had directed him and Rhodes to hold firm at $15.5 million.
“We felt that the budget direction from the board and the motivation (higher construction estimate = higher fee) by the architect to increase the construction cost estimate required us to be firm with the architect on the total budget available and not entertain any overtures to increase the project budget,” Brown e-mailed to the Portland Tribune.
Both he and Rhodes say that the meaning of “fix it later” was that they would try and shave costs off whatever design Graham submitted.
Price tag climbed quickly
The dispute between Graham and Rhodes and Brown was not disclosed to the council two months later when the budget was approved. After the article came out, council members said they should have been told the figure was not more certain.
Adams says, “Staff can’t willingly and knowingly misrepresent budget estimates to the City Council. And they did on this particular instance, and … I chose to hold them accountable.”
Says Brown, “It’s unfortunate that certain people have felt the need to point fingers and offer up scapegoats for the problems that the tram is now facing.”
Rhodes concedes that, in hindsight, the $15.5 million figure that he inherited should have been prepared with a full engineering study before being adopted. “Do I feel like I’m being screwed?” Rhodes says sardonically. “Yeah, just a little bit.”
Brown and Rhodes note that the budget figure had been set, and agreed to by Graham, before her design was complete. Under pressure from neighbors, city commissioners and local media to create a work of art — an Oregonian editorial had demanded a “masterpiece, a marvel, a civic landmark” — her final design boosted the price tag by another $13 million, thanks to ingredients like a hand-shaped tram body and a highly complex upper tower.
Since then, unforeseen difficulties, such as the dollar’s collapse versus the Swiss franc — the main contractor is Swiss — as well as a skyrocketing steel market and post-Hurricane Katrina inflation in the construction industry have helped add another $15 million or so, bringing the total to $45 million.
Asked about the resignation, Adams says: “I want people to stay on the PATI board that are comfortable with this … If they’re not, I totally thank them for their service, I totally understand, and will just part ways with them with no hard feelings.”
As for Rhodes, he says he is trying to take the high road. “Has the last week been pleasant? No. But what’s important to me is getting the project done and getting it done well. And if that means I’ve got to go away, fine.”
I'm actually really happy the business community if pissed off. First, it shows they support the tram, which with our business community is quite surprising! Second it tells Sam Adams to stop reading so much of Jack Bogs Blog and believing that the 30 continuously posting nuts does not make a Portland majority...I'm all for Sam, advancing gay politicians is right up my alley, but hopefully he wont be so pressured next time by a bunch of willy nilly complainers lying that SoWa is bankrupting Portland...Bah!
Feb 1, 2006, 7:12 PM
Potter shifts tram construction oversight to full council
South Waterfront - An upcoming work session will help decide who will manage construction
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Three months ago, Portland city Commissioner Sam Adams was the front man on the tram as its budget spiraled to $45 million. But the transportation commissioner is now seeing the spotlight of managing tram construction shift from his second-floor office to the full City Council.
Mayor Tom Potter sent out a memo Monday asking the entire council to call the shots on the project that Adams had led.
Adams says he's OK with Potter's ideas. After all, Adams says, he always consulted with his council peers anyway and knew they'd have to approve his ideas.
Potter said he's also opening the question of which department will manage the rest of the tram's construction to link South Waterfront to Oregon Health & Science University: Adams' transportation office or the mayor's Portland Development Commission.
"We need a clear sense of who is in charge and a clear path by which they keep the council involved," Commissioner Erik Sten said. The council must "get through the power struggle and into the management."
But the tram's management is the latest delicate diplomacy between Adams, the council's hard-charging junior commissioner, and the more laid-back Potter. They've butted heads more often than any other council members, most publicly on new reporting requirements for lobbyists.
Adams has taken some heat for the way he's handled the tram.
In October, the commissioner announced the aerial tram's long-spiraling cost jumped another $5 million to $45 million.
Within three weeks, he said, he hoped to figure out how to cover the cost bump. True to his hands-on management style, Adams led stomach-churning negotiations with South Waterfront developers and OHSU executives.
He backed away in December when the council asked the development commission to take charge.
Adams said he handed it over to the development commission because he got what he wanted: A commitment that the tram's rising costs wouldn't eat up money for South Waterfront's affordable housing, parks and riverfront greenway.
Originally approved at $15.5 million, the tram is projected to cost about $45 million and is due to start flying in September, six months behind schedule. A consultant's report is expected today to help verify the final cost.
After a Jan. 12 report in The Oregonian that gave details about the tram's increasing costs, Adams asked tram manager Vic Rhodes to resign as director of a non-profit managing construction. He announced Rhodes had stepped down even though he hadn't yet.
In his Monday memo, Potter called on the council to "provide policy oversight and direction for this project." The move matches with his call last year that the council, not individual commissioners, decide infrastructure issues.
The mayor plans to call a council tram work session on an undetermined date led by Bruce Warner, executive director at the Portland Development Commission. Portland's semi-independent redevelopment arm is contributing the city's share of the tram costs, at $3.5 million. Most costs will be paid by OHSU.
At the meeting, the council will help decide who will manage the rest of the tram's construction. City transportation staff worked on it so far. Adams said changing project managers could cost the city tram expertise and drive up costs further.
Commissioner Randy Leonard says the entire council is getting blamed for the tram's cost overruns, so they should all share responsibility for doing their homework.
"Clearly I need to start burrowing in on something that hasn't been burrowed in on enough," he said.
Ryan Frank: 503-221-8564; email@example.com
Feb 1, 2006, 7:29 PM
and is due to start flying in September, six months behind schedule.
as of the last year, it has been scheduled to open in september
Feb 2, 2006, 6:29 AM
I just watched the 10:00 KGW news and they said the estimated cost is now at $55 million. If the city approves the new budget fast enough they expect to have it running by December.
Feb 2, 2006, 2:17 PM
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The aerial tram's cost to link Pill Hill to South Waterfront has more than tripled in three years to $55 million, and the tram faces a laundry list of potential problems, a consultant said Wednesday. The bump leaves a $15 million budget hole and no one stepping up to write a check.
Pinnell/Busch, hired to bring an unbiased engineer's eye to what's become a political nightmare, also found design flaws that might steer squeamish riders away.
Today, four months after construction began, it's too late to call off the project or alter its minimalist design to save money, the report said.
"There really are no other opportunities at this time to reduce the project costs," said Bruce Warner, executive director of the Portland Development Commission, which paid for the study.
The report comes after a series of setbacks that has turned the tram into a regular punchline in City Council meetings.
City officials, working under former transportation Commissioner Jim Francesconi, failed to include architects fees and contingency costs in their first budget.
Hoping to scale back the tram's design to meet its budget, no one made the budget oversights clear to the council before it approved the project in August 2003.
Steel prices skyrocketed, and the architect's design proved far more complicated than anticipated.
With then-Mayor Vera Katz's backing, the council OK'd the tram in 2003 as the linchpin to South Waterfront's $1.9 billion redevelopment. Oregon Health & Science University, Portland's largest private employer, had explored Washington County for an expansion. But the three-minute tram ride from top to bottom and the city's support persuaded OHSU to make the leap down to South Waterfront.
Already, three condo towers and OHSU's first medical building have sprouted in what had been a mostly vacant industrial and warehouse district.
But the tram lurched.
Along the way, professional cost estimators pushed up the first $15.5 million budget. The council later approved budgets at $28.5 million, then $40 million. Last October, the city announced the price tag hit $45 million.
Steve Stadum, OHSU's chief administrative officer, is frustrated that the hospital's share of the tram has risen under the city-managed construction project. The report gave good recommendations, he said, but "it is a little bit frustrating that it didn't happen earlier, and that we've absorbed the costs up until now."
It's not all bad news. Pinnell/Busch praised the tram as a "dramatic, one-of-a-kind" project that will overshadow its budget and schedule mishaps. The consultants rated tram staffers as "competent to excellent."
But their compliments didn't go much further. Warner, a civil engineer and former head of the Oregon Department of Transportation, hired the consultant with a $98,500 contract to secure an unbiased assessment and a firmer budget estimate.
That's what he got.
The consultant said the tram needs more management, a more detailed schedule, more visits by a structural engineer and closer tracking of subcontractors. The staff is overloaded, the report says, working into the night and weekends.
The consultant also said the city and contractor Kiewit Pacific need more detailed and regular reviews of the costs, including a list of actual costs to date and estimated costs to finish.
The reviews need "to be accomplished as soon as possible, as the current procedures need improvement, so that a more reliable budget can be provided," the report said. And design problems, such as a lack of rain protection for riders, "could damage the reputation of the tram and detract from an otherwise very successful project."
The new budget includes a $5 million contingency. So far, the project has spent $17 million, and 96 percent of its bids are out.
Robert J. Barnard, the city's new full-time tram project manager, said he's filled the city's construction trailer in South Waterfront with more staff. The city added three full-time and two part-time people in the past two months. General contractor Kiewit added another four managers.
Barnard said he couldn't address the concerns Pinnell/Busch raised about the tram's design because he hadn't reviewed the report in detail.
As long as the city heeds its recommendations, Pinnell/Busch says, the tram should fly by Dec. 1.
The report opens the tram's next chapter. Warner, Stadum and South Waterfront developer Dike Dame now start talks on how to cover the $15 million gap. The council will debate it soon, too.
The tram is being built for OHSU, but Stadum has stuck to what he's said for two years: His board isn't crazy about spending any more.
He'll find at least one city commissioner who's disinclined to open the city's coffers, too. If OHSU won't pay, "we'll back up a tow truck and hook it up to the pilings and pull them out," Commissioner Randy Leonard said. "You can buy a bus."
Feb 2, 2006, 3:48 PM
I still stand solidly behind the tram but it is shocking that city officials did such a shoddy job on getting a price for it before construction, I mean they didnt even include architects fees. If this controversial project had been smooth-sailing thru the planning and construction process it would have really silenced the critics.
Anyhow I look forward to opening day and the rave reviews it will get. But also when the South Waterfront is full of billions of dollars worth of towers spurred by the tram.
If OHSU won't pay, "we'll back up a tow truck and hook it up to the pilings and pull them out," Commissioner Randy Leonard said
Yeah Randy, that sounds like a great idea after spending all this money on the project.
Feb 3, 2006, 6:22 AM
KATU news video about the tram:
-click 'watch the story'
Feb 22, 2006, 12:40 AM
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: February 16, 2006
Plans for a futuristic elevated gondola system linking Brooklyn to Manhattan by way of Governors Island on a tramway were introduced yesterday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
The system, estimated to cost $125 million, would be designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, and would greatly change the face of Upper New York Bay.
But there is a catch: at a press briefing at which the mayor showed drawings of the tramway — which would feature the long and spindly arms that mark much of Mr. Calatrava's work — he acknowledged that the system was still only an idea. He said, however, that he hoped it would eventually become reality and in the meantime inspire others to come up with big ideas for the development of Governors Island.
At the briefing, Mr. Bloomberg and state officials publicly solicited ideas for the island.
"Its possibilities really are limitless," Mr. Bloomberg said. "And the challenge for us is to not just let it sit here, not just be engaged in endless conversations, not to look for the pedestrian, but to do something brilliant."
Over the years the city has asked for ideas for the island, a former Coast Guard base, which after years of negotiations finally came under local control a few years ago.
There has been talk of an amusement park, a casino, a movie studio and a biotech center, much of it dismissed as unrealistic or unworkable, an acknowledgment of the island's limitations; aside from the difficulties in getting people there, many of the buildings have landmark status and cannot be torn down.
But with the defeat last year of the administration's plans to significantly alter the look of the Far West Side with a football stadium, Mr. Bloomberg and his development team have renewed their focus on Governors Island as they seek to leave some other lasting mark on the city's landscape.
Governors Island is one of the few areas of the city with considerable space available for development, 150 acres in all, according to the mayor's office.
Mr. Bloomberg and his top development deputy, Daniel L. Doctoroff, who were joined by the state's top development official, Charles A. Gargano, said they were open to just about anything with imagination, and within reason.
They said they hoped that the proposed tramway would serve as an inspiration. "It is an idea, one of many for helping to transform this island, and it is feasible, we believe, from an engineering and cost perspective," Mr. Doctoroff said.
But, he said, its construction would require heavy analysis, planning and community consultation, and that for now he hoped the design would "help raise the bar for what the world imagines and what it expects from this great place."
All told, officials said, each of the tramway's two arms would extend 3,250 feet and its gondolas would be suspended from a height of about 200 feet. The tramway would be able to transport people from either Lower Manhattan or the foot of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to Governors Island in about four minutes, and commuters could also use it to go directly to Brooklyn or Manhattan.
Howard P. Milstein of Milstein Properties applauded the idea, and said it could entice him to make a proposal.
"The city has hit upon exactly the right approach, which is to have a very creative solution," he said. "To make this useful, you have to be able to get there."
Mar 14, 2006, 11:36 PM
Coming down off the hill the last couple of mornings, I've noticed that the base for the upper terminal is nearly above Campus Drive and growing very quickly. Seeing the column really gives a sense of how enourmous this structure is going to be. It's really going to stand out.
Mar 14, 2006, 11:39 PM
Room 606...I think our minds were at the same place at the same time!
Check out the SoWa pics thread. I found some tram pics online thanks to Jack's Blog
Mar 15, 2006, 12:22 AM
It looks like a spaceship from Starwars...
Mar 17, 2006, 4:56 PM
Does anyone know how they will string up the cables?
Mar 17, 2006, 5:09 PM
Does anyone know how they will string up the cables?
I think the only way they will be able to do this is by helicopter, dropping in small pulling cables and then using those to pull in the final cables.
Mar 21, 2006, 9:14 PM
Unless the Portland Office of Transportation comes up with $13.4 million soon, the controversial aerial tram project will run out of money and grind to a halt in six weeks.
The department, which is managing the tram project, is expected to spend the $40 million pledged to the project by the end of April. Unless the Portland City Council authorizes more funds for the project by then, the transportation office will not have the money to continue buying materials or to pay the workers building the tram, which will connect Oregon Health & Science University’s new building in the South Waterfront area with its facilities on Marquam Hill.
No one involved in the project seriously expects the work to stop, however. Officials with the Portland Development Commissioner, South Waterfront property owners and OHSU are still discussing how to bridge the funding gap that occurred when cost projections grew from $40 million to the current estimate of $53.4 million.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who is adamantly opposed to spending any more city money on the project, believes OHSU will come up with the money needed to finish the project.
“It’s OHSU’s tram. If they want it, they’ll pay for it,” Leonard said.
Homer Williams, the lead developer on the project, agrees that could happen — but says OHSU could then sue the city for part or all of the additional costs.
“Of course it will be finished. But that doesn’t mean the city won’t end up paying for it,” he said.
Mark Williams, the OHSU official in charge of the South Waterfront project, refuses to say what the teaching hospital is considering — but says OHSU believes the city “has an obligation” to help finish the project.
Even though the gap remains, work on the project is continuing unabated. For example, huge steel sheets are being cut and welded into support towers for the Oregon Health & Science University tram at a metal fabrication shop across the Columbia River from Portland in Vancouver, Wash. According to John Rudi of Thompson Metal Fab Inc., the completed towers will weigh more than 500,000 tons.
At the same time, seven large shipping containers full of specialized tram parts built in Switzerland are traveling across the ocean to Portland on four freight ships.
By the end of May, thousands of tons of fabricated steel will be ready to be attached to the reinforced concrete bases of the lower station, middle tower and upper station of the tram.
But the city has pulled the plug on a major construction project before. After spending more than $4 million on planning to replace the open reservoirs in Mount Tabor and Washington parks, the city canceled the project in response to public criticism — the same kind of criticism now swirling around the tram project.
At a March 14 public forum on the tram, dozens of Portlanders criticized the project and its escalating costs, questioning how the city could even consider completing it when the schools are facing a financial crisis.
A majority of the council balked at one possible solution last Thursday, in large part because it called for the city to increase its share of the tram costs from $3.5 million to $9.4 million. Both the original and additional amounts would come from so-called tax increment funds generated by increased property values in the development district.
Homer Williams and other investors promised to accelerate the district’s projected property value increases by starting construction on two new condominium towers ahead of schedule — one late this year and the other early next year.
Williams also promised the investors would guarantee city urban renewal bond payments if the property value increases fell short. And OHSU also offered to increase its share of the project from $24.75 million to $30.75 million.
But Commissioners Leonard, Dan Saltzman and Erik Sten said the investors were not contributing enough to the tram under the proposal. Sten believes the investors are making huge profits on their projects and should contribute cash to the tram. Williams said the three commissioners don’t understand how the business world works.
“We’re promising to seek and secure $250 million in bank financing to increase the value of the district by that amount. Everyone knows the real estate market is changing and if it goes down, we’re on the hook for all the payments. To say we’re not contributing enough, well, that’s just not fair,” he said.
Leonard suggests OHSU and the investors are trying to blackmail the city.
“They say all the steel has been bought and all the preparations are complete and all they need is just a little more money from us. I feel like if I go along with that, I’m rewarding bad behavior,” he said.
Mar 22, 2006, 2:55 AM
According to Commissioner Sam's site (I'm citing 'Roland,' who I presume is a public worker/official working on the tram), the city of Portland has a line of credit that it is using to pay for the tram. That line will be paid off by OHSU, the city & from the LID once they get an agreement hammered out.
I wouldn't rely too much on newsprint, as they are sensationalizing every last tidbit at this point - pouring gasoline on the fire.
Mar 22, 2006, 3:22 AM
I'm still not sure why the city should have anything to complain about here. $9.4 million is a miniscule amount compared to the amount of property tax revenue they'll pull in when the SoWa district gets going. And the money isn't even being pulled from school funding. It's being pulled from future taxes from the SoWa district. Even if the Tram weren't built, the schools would STILL not receive the funding they need, and the SoWa District becomes the next Lloyd District. IMHO Randy Leonard is a very short sighted person and quite frankly never offers up anything of substance other than to make huffy statements. And the only reason he makes huffy statements is because of the political pressure he's receiving.
Mar 22, 2006, 3:23 AM
The Tram will get built...there is no way the city wants its credit rating lowered or to face lawsuits from the contractors, etc....plus the huge amount of negative press the city would receive....it's another thing entirely if they hadn 't began the construction.... Any new project asking the city to be a partner will no doubt get closer scrutiny, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
This project, once completed, will be a good thing for the region. I know I might hit a raw nerve when I save the tram will actually be an improvement for that neighborhood below them....I say this after seeing the recent picture posts on the hillside neighborhood. I know a man's castle is his/her home but some of those homes need help. There doesn't seem to be much reinvestment/upkeep in some of much of the houses. It looks as though the hood as been going to crap longer than the idea of building a tram overhead.
Mar 22, 2006, 4:47 AM
While I dont think the city should have to pay any more for the tram, I agree with flux73 I find it funny that a few vocal people are whining about the $3.5 million (or even if it is $9.4 million) that the city is contributing to the tram (which is from SoWa urban renewal money). The City spent more studying capping the Mount Tabor reservoir, they are talking about building a $5 million bike bridge across I-405, how many million are they spending repaving Naito Parkway? I'm not saying these aren't valid projects but why is $3.5 million (or even if it is $9.4 million) toward a tram that is a linchpin for a $10 Billion neighborhood being wasteful????
The Oregonian editorial board is a big supporter of the tram project but also thinks that the developers could contribute more...
Developers should help fill the gap in tram's finances (http://www.oregonlive.com/editorials/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/editorial/114290796347610.xml&coll=7)
More money is not the solution for the portland school district's problems as was seen with several hundred million dollar school tax in Multnomah County that really didnt do much yet apparently a tiny $3.5 million or even $9.4 million from the tram budget would be the fix.:rolleyes:
Mar 22, 2006, 7:29 PM
Speaking of capping the Mt. Tabor reservoir...since they have capped and landscaped the Broadway reservoir here in Seattle the neighborhood and city appears to be getting its monies worth. It's not even Spring yet but the new park is getting heavy use and positive word of mouth in the hood. I like having it just down the block...much nicer than when it was an open air facility. Those in Portland should come up and take a look...some of the opponents might change their minds.
Mar 22, 2006, 7:54 PM
They had a design competition for the reservoir caps and the plans were spectacular. I think the winning design was a floating blatter type cover with walkways, fountains, and reconnection to the parks where they sit in. The BoJacks of Portland and the inability of the city council to better communicate the plans, doomed the project.
Mar 23, 2006, 11:34 PM
Wow, the amount of vitriol being spewed on Jack Bog's blog in the comment section is unbelievable. So much sarcasm but I have yet to see a good reason for why they should be so angry about the tram. I really don't get it. Even IF the city were contributing to the city's part of the financing, it would come out to what, $2 per person? And it isn't. The argument about school funding is just ridiculous considering the citizens of Portland voted DOWN the I-Tax which brought in $90 million per year. Yet where was the complaining when that got voted down? I can only assume that when people are too bored, they just like to get angry and bitch.
Mar 24, 2006, 6:11 PM
That Tabor reservoir fight made no sense to me. I couldn't understand why the local people didn't want a park on top of the big square chainlink fence surrounded ponds. It's not like they were capping a pristine lake or something, we're talking about square industrial looking concrete lined ponds that you can't even go near. NIMIBY in the extreme.
Mar 25, 2006, 11:21 AM
For as cool and progressive as Portland can be, many of its citizens look to the past more than the future. This is a trait Portland shares with San Francisco--another city where citizens fight anything modern or anything new. In the end, we will win. But seriously, of all the things to angry about in the world, why are they so mad about the tram, which isn´t likely to cost taxpayers anymore than what has already been pledged. And considering how much property tax revenue the city will be earning from the barrage of luxury housing being built--and sold faster than it´s being built--why the anger? Fuck Randy Leonard. He´s a hick. He should have stuck with pissing out fires.
Mar 27, 2006, 1:03 AM
BoJack & his curmudgeon ilk are primarily against the Tram, from what I can tell, for a couple of reasons:
1) people have no right living in high-rise living
2) the public should never pay for any infrastructure improvements, parks, etc, unless it is either for police, fire, medical, schools, and publicly-subsizided Baseball Stadiums. Trams are certainly a no-no
3) OHSU can go to hell
4) he believes the area between Marquam Br. and Ross Is. Br. is going to become a 'park & ride' lot for OHSU, not a new campus
5) tram will collapse and kill people on the freeway, Barbur, and houses
6) the REAL REASON BoJack hates the Tram:
It's Ex-Guv 'baby-raper' Goldschmidt's pet project!
this decisively proves that anyone who specializes in public accounting or taxation is inherintly unhappy.
Mar 27, 2006, 1:06 AM
Randy is just bein' Randy, tho: he's like the Hammer nailing down the developers whenever they get out of line. If you show too much mercy to them, we'll get crappy architecture & other projects built, way off budget. He just keeps everything smoothly running - doing what a politician should be doing, focusing on accountability.
Course, he likes to use outrageous language while doing so, to scare things up a bit. I think it works wonders, personally... plus you've got commiss. Sam, who's been kickin' butt ever since I voted for him. =)
Mar 27, 2006, 1:45 AM
THE TROUBLE WITH THE TRAM
Sunday, March 26, 2006
The political strutting about the rising costs of Portland's aerial tram has been great theater. But it doesn't help anyone understand why the tram has become so expensive, much less whether it's still worth the money.
City Commissioners Randy Leonard and Sam Adams have led the follies. Now everyone is joining in, vilifying city staffers, consultants, the architect and each other for the tram's flight to $55 million.
Time for a reality check.
No member of the media watched the tram's early history more closely than I did. Back in 2001, I started beating the drum for an international design competition. And until I went on sabbatical last August, I saw every turn in the tram's development, attending dozens of meetings and writing dozens of articles, many raising concerns about -- even poking fun at -- the tram's fictional budget.
Nobody could have predicted the final cost. The largest Pacific Rim construction boom in history, the reconstruction of Iraq and, most recently, Hurricane Katrina's aftermath have inflated construction budgets everywhere by double-digit figures, sometimes monthly.
Yet none of that excuses a critical early misstep, much less the acrobatics that have followed.
Back in 2002, a ski-lift engineer named Joe Gmuender presented Oregon Health & Science University and the city with the first estimate to build the tram: "a little over $10 million." A bargain! Too bad it wasn't for the tram that eventually would be approved and built.
Gmuender's tram flew up Marquam Hill to an open plaza. There, he presumed, a short, simple tower could be anchored with cables into the mountainside's bedrock. By contrast, the tram now being built lands at a hole in the side of OHSU's new 200-foot-high Patient Care Facility.
To protect the new microsurgery facilities, the system's 1 million pounds of cables and cars won't touch the building. They'll hang off a 160-foot tower with no tie-backs to either the building or the ground. Imagine playing tug-of-war with a football team while standing on one foot: The tower will bear an extraordinary 160 million foot-pounds of torque. Nothing like it has ever been built anywhere before.
So how did the building get in the way?
As OHSU officials were negotiating for the tram, they were also working to upzone the university's land in the Marquam Hill Plan. Given the long history of neighborhood crusades against its growth, OHSU kept the blueprints for the building under wraps until after the Marquam plan was inked.
Shortly thereafter, the city and OHSU bumped the tram's budget to $15.5 million. But that was for the international competition's supposed "design premium." Nobody bothered to study the radical new engineering problem OHSU had created.
During the competition, every architect openly said the budget was too small. The winner and her engineers kept saying it, in the newspaper and in public meetings. But the developers, OHSU and the city argued back that the tram had to be built for $15.5 million.
As estimates rose, OHSU and then-City Commissioner Jim Francesconi even stopped the design work to "value-engineer" the design. All they cut was quality while unwittingly pushing the tram into the post-Katrina swirls of construction pricing.
So who lied? Who messed up? Who do we blame? The truth is, everyone was enjoying a long, local tradition. As historian E. Kimbark McColl once put it, "Portland is always looking for first-class passage on a steerage ticket."
But now it's time to get real. More than $500 million in new construction is rising in South Waterfront with more on the way. In Portland's internationally lauded history of public/private partnerships, this one is the biggest ever with the least amount of public money, all on the promise of that aerial tram. Stopping it, or even arbitrarily capping the city's two-bit contribution at $3.5 million, might allow a few politicians to proudly bow before the peanut gallery.
But don't expect the national investment community to clap for the performance, much less trust Portland ever again in a public/private partnership.
Randy Gragg is The Oregonian's architecture and urban design critic. He is on leave through June as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University.
Mar 27, 2006, 3:08 AM
its good to hear Randy Gragg's voice again. To me this is the most realistic portrayal of the situation I've read in a longtime. The benefits of the tram are going to be huge for this city. It's going to end up being a small investment with huge returns.
Mar 27, 2006, 4:56 PM
So is Randy Gragg back, back? How much more simple would it have been for the city had they just hired him to explain the fiasco.
Randy Gragg for 2008 Mayor!
Apr 5, 2006, 4:01 AM
The Aerial Tram is rising quickly:
Apr 5, 2006, 4:59 AM
so any comments about that article in the oregonian today - something about a vote in the near future which would decide whether the city would stop the project?? i started to read it but someone interrupted me with work to do (the gall!)...
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