The Oregon Senate is preparing to approve the $3.4 billion Columbia River Crossing project next week. As WW reported in our recent cover story about the lobbying effort behind the bridge, the project has racked up $165 million in costs to date.
The project has been financed by funds from both Washington and Oregon along with federal grant money.
We took a closer look at the money to see whoâs made the most (and the road bumps theyâve faced) on the way to the bank.
The lead contractor on the project, David Evans and Associates, has already pocketed almost $40 million, about 30 percent of all dollars paid out to CRC subcontractors and consultants. Thatâs double the cost of their initial contract in 2005. David Evansâ contract has ballooned significantly since, from $50 million to over $105 million.
Early on, engineering and construction conglomerate Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) hired former Governor Neil Goldschmidt, who lobbied then-Governor Ted Kulongoski to push for the project. Since coming aboard, PB and its subsidiary have earned over $21 million.
Washington engineering firm Parametrix was brought on board to head work on the environmental impact statement, a federally mandated study to showcase the CRCâs impact on the Columbia River area and offer alternatives to problems. The statement estimated that traffic levels across the river would soar over the next two decades. Actual levels since then have not met those estimates. They have even dropped in recent years. Parametrix has made almost $15 million from their work.
In 2006, Northwest-based PR firm Enviroissues hired the communications director of Washingtonâs department of transportation. Amount earned so far: almost $8.7 million.
HDR Engineeringâs main task has been to manage planning for the bridge part of the CRC, which overall will renovate Interstate 5 over a five-mile stretch. To date, HDR has been paid $6.2 million. Earlier designs of the main span across the Columbia had the bridgeâs height at 95 feet, which the Coast Guard have said would be too low. After adding 21 feet of clearance to the bridgeâand $30 million to itâs costâthe new proposed height still isnât tall enough for some important manufacturers along the river, who stand to lose millions in profits as a result.
The CRC hired David Parisi, a California based traffic consultant, and paid the rent for his Pearl District apartment. They have also paid Parisi $1.45 million for his work so far.
Along with PB, Stantec was tasked with providing revenue estimates from bridge tolling. CRC organizers expected tolls to recoup about $1.3 billion of project costs. A 2011 review of those projections by State Treasurer Ted Wheeler showed they were overconfident by at least $500 million. Since coming on, Statntec has made $950,000.
Patricia McCaigâwho is playing both sides of the ball as the governorâs top aide on the CRC and a paid consultant for David Evansâhas been paid $417,000.
Tom Markgrafâs firm, Markgraf & Associates, was hired in 2005 to do public outreach and communications before the arrival of McCaig in 2009. Former Metro President David Bragdon said Markgraf couldnât give specific answers to his questions about the project. Markgraf left the project after 2010 after his role was phased out. His son, Peter, is still employed though, earning $177,000 since the beginning of 2011 to prepare monthly reports to the Federal Transit Authority and other project committees.
Other top earners include:
Shannon and Wilson, geotechnical and environmental consulting firm: $4,679,613
CH2M Hill, engineering, design, construction and operation corporation: $3,416,135
Heritage Research, archaeological research and historic evaluation services: $2,298,158
ZGF Architects: $1,646,511
Siegal Consulting, finance planning: $1,541,388