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|Articles - May 2013|
|Monday, April 29, 2013|
BY JOHN PINKSTAFF
Traffic congestion from Portland to the Oregon Coast along the Highway 99W corridor is steadily increasing. I vividly recall sitting in traffic on the way to the wine country or the beach, thinking there must be a cost-effective way to complete transportation projects in tight economic times.
Traffic congestion has substantial environmental and economic costs, and failure to invest adequately in transportation improvements will lead to travel delay and associated reductions in market access. In addition, it may result in a potential income loss valued at $1.7 billion annually in Oregon by 2025, with a loss of 16,000 ongoing jobs, according to “The Cost of Highway Limitations and Traffic Delay to Oregon’s Economy,” a 2007 study prepared by the Boston-based Economic Development Research Group, Inc.
Transportation-budget shortfalls have prevented traditional government funding for major infrastructure projects. The Newberg-Dundee Bypass that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) designed to improve mobility and reduce congestion would cost nearly $1 billion. There is $192 million in stimulus funds for phase one but no current or projected funding source for phases two or three.
However, there is a possible solution to this problem: a public-private partnership to deliver a limited-access highway from I-5 to the west end of McMinnville, paid for with private funds and given to the state after the private debt is paid for with user fees.
Public-private partnerships are not a new concept. They consist of an agreement between a private entity and a governmental agency for the development, financing, maintenance or operation of public infrastructure such as transportation facilities (e.g., bridges, highways, airports, seaports). A partnership infrastructure project typically provides for acceptance of a private investment in the project, sharing of resources and the means of providing the project, and cooperation in designing, developing and implementing the project. Partnerships are commonly used for private-sector delivery of on-time, on-budget, commercially viable transportation facilities in Europe, Latin America, Australia, Canada and the U.S.
State laws have authorized partnerships for transportation projects since 2003 (Oregon Innovative Partnerships Program, ORS 367.800 to 367.826), and for tollway projects since 1995 (ORS Chapter 383, and OAR 731-070-005 to 731-070-0360).
Building upon existing law, House Bill 2696, currently before the Oregon legislature, would establish partnership methodology to deliver a specific transportation project: the “Coastal Parkway.” This parkway would be a 12- to 14-mile limited-access, high-safety standard highway from I-5 to McMinnville, paid for with private funds and tolls over a 30-year period, after which parkway ownership would be transferred to the state.
The estimated construction cost of the Coastal Parkway is $280 million to $340 million, using private financing and design-build with Oregon-based contractors and designers. Construction could begin as early as 2015 and finish as early as 2016.
The private entity must establish financial capacity; conduct environmental studies; design, construct and operate the facility paid for by user fees (tolling); reimburse ODOT’s expenses and transfer ownership to the state within 30 years, after which tolling will be eliminated. ODOT would use its condemnation power, if necessary, for right-of-way acquisition, and it will be an ODOT project for purposes of compliance with laws.
This is not forced tolling. Motorists would be able to choose between the tolled Coastal Parkway and the current non-tolled Highway 18 and 99W routes. No existing highways would be tolled.
Building state highway infrastructure through a partnership provides an option for bringing private investment into the transportation system to help offset shortfalls in governmental resources by shifting elements of funding, management, operations and financial risks to the private sector. At the same time, the state continues to play an important role through project evaluation, selection, permitting and oversight, and, in the end, receives public ownership of the project.
Friday, October 24, 2014
A majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
By MEGHAN NOLT
VIDEO: Revamping a Classic — an iconic eatery stays relevant in a changing marketplace.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BY OB STAFF
Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE
Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.
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While the Bend City Council ultimately upheld the approval which enables OSU-Cascades to move forward with the 10 acre site, it did also thoughtfully consider the nature of its code requirements, resident concerns and OSU-Cascade’s efforts and suggestions and crafted conditions of approval to address potential impacts of the site in the area.