Via Portland Afoot – apparently one of the things discussed at this morning’s board retreat (I wasn’t there so I am getting this secondhand) is that the new Director of Capital Projects Dan Blocher (successor to Neil McFarlane, who is now the General Manager) is planning to ask the TriMet board to borrow an additional $20 million – on top of the $40 already being borrowed – against the future operating budget to put towards the Milwaukie Orange Line.
Meanwhile, I got this in my mail, and if you live in the Portland Metro area I’m sure you did too:
Right before this last round of service cuts at the beginning of September, I remember reading an article where someone, I think it was Neil McFarlane, said that the budget for building Milwaukie was separate from the budget for service. And even if Milwaukie was cancelled that minute, it wouldn’t free up any money to restore service. I’m not an economist, but I understand that money – especially when it’s federal money – is granted for a specific purpose and can only be used for that purpose, so it’s reasonable that money from the federal government specifically earmarked to build rail can’t be used for anything else.
But borrowing against our existing operations budget to focus on capital projects? Milwaukie rail should not be the main priority. I mean, take this bond measure for example – why is building new alignment more important than making sure our bus stops and buses are ADA accessible? If we’re going to borrow anything at all and vote on anything at all, why not vote on Milwaukie and borrow against our budgets to fix bus stops that people in wheelchairs can’t access? Shouldn’t maintaining our existing service come first before building something we can’t sustain?