Records detail spending on CRC

Top 10 vendors received more than three-fourths of total

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter




A look at how much money had been spent on the Columbia River Crossing at key milestones in the project:

• Draft Environmental Impact Statement (May 2008): $45,910,247.

• Selection of Locally Preferred Alternative (July 2008): $52,673,931.

• Final Environmental Impact Statement (September 2011): $133,820,175.

• Federal Record of Decision (December 2011): $139,373,078.

• Washington pulls out of project (June 2013): $188,212,254

• Total cost to date (through March 31): $196,614,118.89.

SOURCE: Oregon Department of Transportation

By the time the Columbia River Crossing locks its doors for good next month, taxpayers may end up spending more than $200 million on an effort that never turned a shovel toward actual construction.

The proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project had racked up $196.6 million in planning costs through March 31, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Additional accrued and estimated costs into April pushed that number to $199.5 million.

As the CRC shuts down, project officials have offered the clearest picture yet of where all that money went over the course of a decade. A comprehensive list of 171 consultants, individuals and public agencies that were paid to work on the CRC was released this week in response to a records request by The Columbian.

The top 10 vendors alone received more than three-quarters of the money:

• David Evans and Associates: $43,680,640.35 as the project's main contractor, for transit, structural and roadway engineering work.

• Washington State Department of Transportation: $31,243,207.49 for staff management and support. WSDOT was the lead public agency on the project from 2005 to 2013.

• Parsons Brinckerhoff: $23,708,467.19 for structural and roadway engineering work, and toll revenue support.

• Parametrix: $16,709,046.70 for environmental technical reports, and preparation of the CRC's Final Environmental Impact Statement.

• HDR, Inc.: $10,376,477.05 for services related to structural engineering, design-build procurement and permit work.

• EnviroIssues: $8,473,854.81 for public information and outreach. The CRC's two main media contacts in recent years, for example, are employees of EnviroIssues.

• ODOT: $8,052,100.18 for staff time to manage and participate in the project. ODOT became the lead agency on the CRC after Washington pulled out in 2013.

• Shannon & Wilson, Inc.: $6,094,887.53 for geotechnical services.

• TriMet: $5,478,051.16 for staff time to participate in the project.

• Max J. Kuney Company: $4,753,312.77 for test pilings and drilled shaft work in 2012.

The smallest expenditure on the list? A $404.73 charge for a fish and wildlife permit.

Some expenditures went far outside the Northwest. The North Central Texas Council of Governments, Atlanta Regional Commission and Sacramento Area Council of Governments were reimbursed to participate in a peer review panel.

Review panel expenses

Other payments provide new details about earlier stages of the project. Several private consultants were paid for their work on a Bridge Review Panel that completed its final report in 2011. Most were paid between about $40,000 and $80,000 for their role. But one panel member, HNTB Corporation, received more than $540,000, according to the expenditure records.

Despite the huge discrepancy, the description next to HNTB's payment is the same as the others: "Participated on Bridge Review Panel." The company has offices in Portland, according to its website.

CRC spokeswoman Mandy Putney said the larger payment to HNTB reflects other design and engineering work the company did in addition to having been a representative on the review panel.

Another consultant, identified as John Clark, received $210,000 for participating on the bridge review panel, according to the expenditure list. But his name did not appear on the panel's roster in its report. Clark was, however, listed among the consultants who worked on the project at least through 2011, according to other CRC documents.

Putney said Clark is an engineer that also provided work for the review panel.

Participants in those panels were paid for their travel, expenses and time, she said.

All of the money spent on the CRC came from state and federal funds. Those costs are now coming under new scrutiny after an audit this week found $17 million in excess or questionable spending. That included an extra 4 percent markup giving higher-than-normal profits to David Evans and Associates subcontractors, and $12.3 million that was paid to firms that didn't disclose their overhead and profit rates at all, according to the audit.

Project officials began shutting down the $2.9 billion project last month in the absence of legislative support or funding from either state. ODOT expects the shutdown to be complete by May 31.

CRC Expenditures Pie Chart

CRC Expenditures Table