MetroRail, Portland, energy, stimulus, and a raceSo Metro approved the contract for 4 of the 5 new light rail lines this week. Although there have been complaints about the 2012 plan delays, it looks like Metro used the time - and the intervening economic collapse - wisely to get the costs down to $73 million per mile (from potential estimates as high as $100m per mile). That's still more than the $45 million a mile for the 2004 Main St. line, but that reflects not only inflation but a complete 5-year design-build-operate contract that is much more comprehensive than the Main St. line contract. Metro claims their financial books are solid for the whole thing - let's hope so. As usual, Christof has the details here.
Moving on to some other items:
- A Business Week ranking has Portland, Oregon as the country's most unhappy city, based on crime, depression, suicide, divorce, economy, and other factors. Hard to believe it beat out Detroit. I'm not sure how much their heavy-handed approach to land-use regulation impacted those results, but you'd have to think hostility to cars, increasing congestion, and skyrocketing home prices and cost-of-living wouldn't help - not to mention forcing walking, waiting, and transit ridership during the long, dreary, rainy winter months. The dark side of 'smart growth' taken to extremes.
- Houston is the #3 energy star city according to the EPA, as the energy capital should be. Good conservation should be part of that capital status. Hat tip to HAIF.
- If you're curious, here's the Texas list of stimulus projects. Hat tip to... um... sorry, I lost track of who sent me this. Please claim your credit in the comments.
- A Wall Street Journal blog thinks the floor on oil prices has been reached. I've seen other, similar prognostications, including predictions of more strong OPEC cuts next week. Let's hope so. No desire for another 1980's here (movies and music, yes - local economy, no).