In 2006, Citizen Hauser taught Gordon Proctor the meaning of our way or the highway. We look forward to his replacement!

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 01/02/2007 - 07:34.

 

One of my Heroes of 2006 is certainly "Citizen" Ed Hauser, who I had the pleasure of working with closely last year. Not only does Ed get credit for driving into public hands Whiskey Island, but he has taken the lead pushing for saving the national Historic Landmark Coast Guard Station, and he has been the #1 champion in the world for holding the Ohio Department of Transportation accountable for their poor management and inept planning in attempting to steamroll through Cleveland a pathetic vision for a new bridge spanning the Cuyahoga River Valley, where the current I-90 span sits, and turning the Innerbelt Trench into a bypass of historic downtown Cleveland to benefit future development by the Lake. Other than Plain Dealer Architecture Critic Steven Litt and a small cult of other friends of Citizen Hauser, Ed has been alone in waging these battles. What he has been up against are some of the most powerful forces in Ohio - the Port Authority - ODOT - and, it turns out, the powerful contractors who buy politicians like trinkets and then make $ billions from ODOT, the port, etc. That fact was made well clear in a Plain Dealer article titled "Gas-tax increase fuels ODOT building boom" on soon to be dismissed ODOT director Gordon Proctor and his ODOT, which have been wasting perverse amounts of public funds on foolishness, which was to include their hack bridge and trench plans for Cleveland. Incoming Governor Strickland will replace Proctor and could not do worse - then we will move on in determining what will happen with ODOT developing in NEO, with Ed championing good solutions. We are so fortunate, as a community, to have this special citizen activist watching over such seemingly immense battlefields where few have the courage to tread. Read below the December 31, 2006 public communication from Ed Hauser to Director Proctor, which will serve as his send-off to the highway (surely we'll see him lobbying or working for one of his contractors soon enough). We of NEO will welcome a new director in this important position leading this multi-billion-dollar state department, and we will expect that public employee to treat our community with the respect we deserve, and we know Citizen Hauser will keep the process honest. Good bye Proctor.

 

           December 31, 2006

To:      Mr. Gordon Proctor

            Director, Ohio Department of Transportation

            1980 W. Broad Street

            Columbus, OH 43223

 

From:  Ed Hauser

            11125 Lake Avenue #402

            Cleveland, OH 44102

 

cc:       Interested Citizens, Organizations, Public Officials, and Media Contacts

 

Subject:  Ed Hauser Response to Gordon Proctor Letter - November 21, 2006

 

Dear Director Proctor:

This letter is in response to your reply letter dated November 21, 2006.  I feel privileged that my September 21, Q & A handout and your response to it were posted on the ODOT Innerbelt website for thousands of people to see.  In fairness, please post this response to your reply on the website also.  I felt compelled to reply today to address your reply, the imposed deadline for public comments on the Conceptual Alternatives Study (CAS) and today's Plain Dealer article "Gas-tax increase fuels ODOT building boom."

 

My Response to Your Reply Letter - November 21, 2006

After requesting a reply from you in five (5) detailed assessments of the Cleveland Innerbelt Project, you chose to reply to a one-page Q & A handout that I distributed at a public meeting.  You also ignored the detailed public comments that I presented to Cleveland City Council at a public hearing on November 1, with a focus on what I call "Ohio's Billion Dollar Boondoggle- the Innerbelt Bridge."  Your reply failed to address the flaws that I continuously requested to be corrected before proceeding with the project:

  • Correct the ODOT Cleveland Innerbelt Project's- Project Development Process
  • Correct the ODOT Cleveland Innerbelt Project's- Public Involvement Process
  • ODOT must conduct a valid engineering study and economic impact study to compare the costs, feasibility, and traffic interruptions for the northern and southern bridge alignment alternatives.

Unacceptable Public Comment Deadline for the Conceptual Alternatives Study - December 31

For nearly one-year, I requested ODOT and the city of Cleveland to update the Innerbelt Project Schedule it released on November 17, 2005.  Not one of the thirteen bullet items were followed, which described the remainder of the process and how public input correlates with the overall process. 

 

The project schedule was finally updated on December 5, 2006.  It stated that the public comments deadline for the CAS is December 31, 2006.  Typically a comment period is 30-60 days from a valid notification.  This deadline leaves the public 25 days to comment in the middle of the hectic holiday season, if the interested citizens were lucky enough to check the ODOT website. 

 

I will submit my comments directly to Governor Strickland after he is sworn in.  I will not waste my time submitting any more comments under the current administration and under your management.  My comments will also be addressed to Mayor Jackson and Cleveland City Council members, who are also accountable to the citizens and the taxpayers for the Cleveland Innerbelt Project.

 

Quotes from Director Proctor in today's Plain Dealer article

The article ends with the following statements, Those and other projects are in the pipeline, Proctor said, because of his frugal management of ODOT.  "Our degree of management sophistication, I think, would stun you, he said.  "At every level, you see an emphasis on cost-containment and stretching the public dollar."  

 

I'm not only stunned - I'm Shocked!  In May 2006, you wrote a letter to Burgess & Niple, the lead consultant, clearly acknowledging their deficient performance.  In the letter you stated:

"On May 26, 2004, the Department selected Burgess & Niple to complete the preliminary engineering and environmental process for the Cleveland Innerbelt project, based on a promise of "trusted national and local expertise."  Unfortunately the team's performance has not measured up to this promise.  Project development has suffered from lack of continuous and effective leadership and apparent lack of expertise in the NEPA process, and already high costs continue to mount.  Deficient performance has been noted in several areas including but not limited to the following:

  • Changes in leadership…
  • General lack of understanding of the relationship of the NEPA process to timely project development, and failure to manage essential tasks that are critical to the timely completion of the environmental document…
  • Failure to adequately document the evaluation and disposition of alternatives considered, and the results of the public involvement meetings…
  • Document "writers" that have insufficient experience in preparing complex environmental documents, and insufficient knowledge of project development to perform efficiently… The quality of the documents developed to date has fallen well short of expectations.
  • Failure to manage the schedule and inform ODOT of changes in project delivery dates.  ODOT personnel recently discovered errors in Burgess & Niple's schedule documents that, when corrected, indicate the project is between six and seven months behind (best case)…
  • Furthermore, the slow development of this project and general lack of supporting NEPA documentation has served to create strain and tension in ODOT's working relationship/partnership with FHWA… "

 

One of the main flaws that I continuously brought up over the past year was that ODOT invalidly removed the Southern Bridge Alignment Alternative.  This alternative was never fully developed, but this alternative would have provided a new two-way bridge without taking historic properties, for about $500 million.  ODOT's proposed Northern Bridge Alignment will cost about $600 million to repair and maintain the existing bridge for eastbound traffic and build a new westbound bridge one-way out of downtown.  ODOT never publicly addressed the future costs and traffic interruptions to replace the existing bridge. 

 

However, in an email dated November 3, Craig Hebebrand the project manager stated that: "…the District will submit a single TRAC list option that does NOT include construction of a second new bridge within the 20 year life of this project.  HOWEVER, it is recommended that the replacement of the existing bridge, with a second new bridge, in year 21, be fully considered in ODOT's long range plans."

 I will argue, without hesitation, that the replacement of the existing bridge will cost over $1 BILLION DOLLARS in 21 years.  The public and public officials cannot make logical decisions about the bridge alignments until future Eastbound Bridge is addressed.  Is the future Eastbound Bridge even feasible?  How much will it cost?  How will it affect future traffic interruptions?  A valid and fair comparison of the alternatives must be made available immediately to make logical decisions.