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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Libby: "Trimet has misled the citizens of Portland..."

Posted by Matt Davis on Sun, May 24, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Trimet has "misled the citizens of Portland" by saying budget concerns are to blame for ruling out designer Miguel Rosales for its bridge across the Willamette, according to architecture blogger Brian Libby. It turns out, Trimet never even contacted Rosales for a budget estimate, says Rosales, leading Libby to conclude the whole deal was "rigged to fail" by Trimet.

Libby quotes Sarah Mirk's post from Friday, and a subsequent interview with Rosales done by Portland Spaces:

Next Thursday Trimet unveils budget estimates on Rosales hybrid design. Rumors are floating that the price tag will kill the design and clear the way for Trimet to build what agency insiders wanted all along: an off-the-shelf cable-stay. Rosales confirmed that Trimet and the bridge cost estimator never contacted him or his engineer with any questions about the design at all. “In my experience, that’s never happened,” he said. “I don’t know how you estimate the cost of the design without talking to the architect or engineer.”

"If the hybrid is indeed not going to happen, it seems TriMet killed the concept out of fear it will cost too much," writes Libby. But: "Instead of conducting further research looking to confirm or deny that suspicion, they simply have gone ahead with dismissing the hybrid as too expensive."

"If Rosales is correct that Trimet never contacted his team, that to me means that Trimet has misled the citizens of Portland by pretending to conduct a reasonable and open minded, public-influenced process that really never was," Libby concludes.

I don't know about you, but I'm loving the newer, feistier Brian Libby. He's willing to take a stand on architecture issues on behalf of Portland's design community and its broader citizenry, instead of letting them simply be decided by folks behind closed doors. We've got a Sunday morning call in to Trimet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch to respond to Libby's post. In the mean time, be warned. Libby appears to be contemplating direct action in the comments on the Portland Spaces blog:

We need to be strategizing how we’ll get Trimet to change its mind.

Does any local or regional government body have authority over Trimet? We need to find the right elected officials who have the authority to make Trimet listen. Or failing that, we need to find some other way of forcing Trimet to go back and reverse its decision. That might have to be something as outsider as a flood of letters and emails, it may mean 100 of us crowding into Fred Hansen’s office and refusing to leave until we’re arrested, or who knows what else? Just like with Memorial Coliseum, we can not let our elected officials desecrate and compromise Portland’s built environment. Trimet has thrust a rusty dagger into the heart of its own city, and we need to rise up to combat it.

This one could run some. If I were Trimet's board of bridge choosers, I'd be thinking, "we should probably engage on this issue, now, before we get humiliated." But you know: Trimet, public process. Oxymorons! Check back for updates.

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