Monday, July 03, 2006

No One's Buying Wu's Low Fat Pork!

When was the last time you heard of an agency devoted to improving transportation, turning down hundreds of thousands of federal dollars for improving transportation? When a US Congressman doesn't listen to the agency, and gets too little money for a project too far down the priority list, apparently:
About a year ago, [Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, chairman of Metro's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation] and a group of other regional leaders made the annual trek to Washington, D.C., with their short list. Oregon 217 wasn't on it.

"Wu lectured us for 45 minutes, trying to change what we had decided," Burkholder said.

His earmark "doesn't do anything, it raises expectations and takes money away from some problem that $300,000 would fix," Burkholder said. "If he wasn't a congressman, you'd laugh."

Jason Tell, manager of ODOT's Portland region, emphasized that spending any of the state money on Oregon 217 would take away from another project. Tell said the state transportation commission has tried to avoid setting aside relatively small amounts of money that do not accomplish a major milestone on a project, such as an environmental impact statement. Even if matched by the state, Wu's $300,000 would not be enough to start the environmental process.
Beaverton mayor Rob Drake, whose jurisdiction encompasses much of OR 217, isn't thrilled with the rebuke:
"He really stuck his neck out, and made commitments to the broader business community," Drake said. "This sends the wrong message. If I were Congressman Wu, I'd say the jurisdictions don't really want it."
I think it's actually a pretty good message that "the jurisdictions" sent, that despite the near uselessness of the money as intended, they'd try to use it to improve an interchange or two on the Tigard-Cedar Hills connector. In any case, if Wu really did stick his neck out for an amount that no sensible person would ever understand to be enough for even the first shovelful of dirt, I'd say THAT was the wrong message, but I guess I'm not savvy enough for the business community. And hey Rob, Highway 26 is in your area too...which would you say is the bigger clusterfuck at rush hour?