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  #61  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2006, 4:38 PM
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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)?
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  #62  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 3:43 AM
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^^ 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:

Downtown
Brewery Blocks
Meier & Frank Hotel Conversion
St. Francis
Museum Place (Safeway)
Madison Place
Eliot Tower

Old Town/Chinatown
Classical Chinese Gardens
Oak Tower
Firestation 1
Portland Saturday Market

Central Eastside
Eastbank Esplanade
Burnside Bridgehead
Oregon Convention Center
Headquarters Hotel

South Waterfront

Airport Way

MLK Boulevard

It would make an interesting topic to keep track of all the projects PDC touches.
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  #63  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 4:55 AM
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I'll spare you all posting it but Phil is still attacking the tram (and Portland) in yesterdays edition of the anti-portland tribune
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  #64  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 5:14 AM
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I read it...does he actually live in the city? I would like his lips to meet my ass.
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  #65  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 4:27 PM
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^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!
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  #66  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 4:57 PM
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Speaking of ass, one must ask what Stanford did to survive the great tribune purge of 2005. Could explain why he's so angry.
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  #67  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 5:19 PM
Justin Stranzl Justin Stranzl is offline
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Tram anxiety
How flimsy math, shaky design and scorching steel prices tripled tram costs in three years
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Ryan Frank
The Oregonian

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; ryanfrank@news.oregonian.com
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  #68  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2006, 6:23 PM
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"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.
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  #69  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2006, 1:46 AM
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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."
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  #70  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2006, 4:42 AM
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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.
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  #71  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2006, 7:16 PM
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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.

Deadline approaches

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.
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  #72  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2006, 8:13 PM
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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!
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  #73  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2006, 7:12 PM
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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
RYAN FRANK

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; ryanfrank@news.oregonian.com
http://www.oregonlive.com/metro/oreg...900.xml&coll=7
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  #74  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2006, 7:29 PM
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Quote:
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
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  #75  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2006, 2:17 PM
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Tram goes up -- again

Thursday, February 02, 2006
RYAN FRANK
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."
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2006, 3:48 PM
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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.

Quote:
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.
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  #77  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2006, 6:22 AM
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KATU news video about the tram:
http://www.katu.com/stories/83004.html
-click 'watch the story'
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Old Posted Feb 22, 2006, 12:40 AM
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New York City Mayor proposes Tram



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."
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Old Posted Mar 14, 2006, 11:36 PM
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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.

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Old Posted Mar 14, 2006, 11:39 PM
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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
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