MTC Shows its True Colors-OAC

MTC Shows its True

09/08/10 Filed in:

MTC’s Programming and
Allocations Committee met to once again take the heat
in deciding whether to provide additional funding for
the BART Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), a truly
execrable project. This project, which had died after
the Federal Transit Administration pulled the plug on
$70 million in stimulus funding, showed itself to
have many lives, and many functionaries willing to
bend institutional rules to raise it from the dead.
MTC violated its own rules in bypassing a required
vote by its Commissioners, and was caught at it.

Large numbers of presumably unemployed carpenters
showed up to flex their political muscles, with a
banner eerily calling out CIA. Only this time, CIA
meant Carpenters in Action. They were calling for
jobs, and clearly weren’t much concerned that the
project was enormously bloated in cost, and already
eliminated any benefits for the impoverished
community it was to pass through. The carpenters
seemed unaware that most of the jobs resulting from
the project would be elsewhere, where the people
mover system will be built. The use of precast
concrete is going to reduce the construction jobs

After many impassioned speeches calling for MTC to
preserve the Bay Area’s underfunded transit system
and not waste money on the OAC, the committee voted
to approve the funding. While there was a significant
group of Commissioners who saw the problems with
approving the money, they were in the minority.

MTC, through this and many previous votes,
demonstrated more clearly than ever before that the
agency truly does not give a crap about outcomes. The
fact that the OAC would waste a half-billion dollars
was not a consideration. MTC has always been about
cutting political deals. The OAC represented
someone’s deal, and MTC’s unspoken rules prohibit
going back on a deal, no matter how loathsome a
project has become.

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