Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 25, 2010

BLOGexclusive: MDOT DRIC RFP--- Should Heads Roll

Senator Cropsey in the Michigan Seante made this comment on Thursday about MDOT
  • "The department has failed to do its job. It needs to be held accountable."

Wait until the Senator reads this BLOG! I wonder what he will say then.

I did a BLOG the other day "How To Cook The DRIC Traffic And Revenue Books" that disgusted me about the manner in which I believed that the criteria were so set up to get the answer that Transport Canada wanted.

If I thought that was bad, then you can imagine my apoplexy when I read what the requirements for the RFP for MDOT were for their so-called investment-grade traffic survey.

There comes a time when someone has to take responsibility for giving the orders to tell the Legislature of Michigan to get stuffed. MDOT has already refused to provide relevant cost numbers so that Legislators are unable to make an informed decision. Accountability time is now in my opinion.

If I was in charge, I would repeat the words of the Queen of Hearts: "Off with their heads."

Section 384 is pretty clear isn't it? I thought it was written in plain English. MDOT is required to comply with it I assume. Here are the relevant parts again if you have forgotten what the language is.

  • Section 384 (1) The department may continue with preliminary legal, financial, traffic and revenue study, permitting, engineering, and other ancillary work for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) so that it can solicit from the private sector, requests for proposals for public-private partnership to construct the bridge, plaza, and related infrastructure. The department shall submit proposals to the legislature by May 1, 2010. Those activities associated with the DRIC project shall not bind the state in any way to construction.

    "(2) The department shall submit an investment grade traffic study to the legislature by May 1, 2010 from a reputable traffic company with appropriate experience intended to provide a detailed traffic projection for the ensuing 10 years, taking into account projected infrastructure modifications, expansions and improvements announced.

Here is how MDOT complied with those sections:

Where does it say that the work required was to prepare an investment-grade traffic study? Now we know why the word "refresher" was used. The task assigned was to "refresh and update or review and evaluate the current draft study conducted on the traffic."

Right off the bat, there was a violation of section 384.

The start date was in November with significant work to be completed by mid-December. Didn't the WSA Rep at the Senate hearings say that an investment-grade traffic study would take a year to accomplish. This was in effect a 39 day job not a one year task.

I also wonder why the completion date was June 30, 2010 when the document had to be submitted by May 1.

Don't you find it ironic that the project manager involved was on the rails side considering how much Bridge traffic could be taken away by the various rail projects proposed in Michigan. Where did DRIC consider that as they were required to do about "improvements announced?"

Obviously, the Department knew what investment-grade studies are. They did NOT ask for one in the RFP. Interestingly, as shown above, what they were seeking was a "Comprehensive Traffic and Toll Revenue Study," whatever that is.

Oh, now we know where that term came from. It came from the Canada study in 2008. No 2009 refresher was to be considered although WSA was supposed to do one for Canada.

How lovely that the "secret" Canadian study could be offered to WSA and to MDOT but when I asked for it in my Access to Information request, it was denied to me. I do not understand the reason now why not.

Was MDOT aware of its contents and does it have a copy of the Canadian report done in 2008? If so, then they and Canada deliberately chose not to allow WSA to do a refresher on the 2009 Canada refresher and refused to give the Legislature a copy.

If MDOT had no idea what that 2008 report said, then how could they present material to the Legislature and not know if it was right or wrong because they had not seen the basic report. They would have no idea what the assumptions were. Frankly, it seems negligent to me.

Was there political interference to prevent disclosure to me. That has been a concern before:
  • "Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is concerned by reports of political interference involving an Access to Information request made by the Canadian Press. The interference from the Public Works department resulted in delays and the delivery of a heavily censored version of a report on Public Works' real-estate portfolio."

  • "A top political aide who blocked the release of a sensitive report requested under the Access to Information Act has acknowledged his error - and has been stripped of his duties reviewing such files, says his boss.

    "What my employee tells me here is that he really lacked judgment," Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis said in an interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press."
Do that the Deliverables bear any relationship whatsoever with what is required in section 384?

What does a report dealing with a time period 50, 60 and 75 years in the future have to do with the 10 year time period set out in section 384?

Wow, that investment-grade traffic study that was not an investment-grade traffic study was done awfully quickly.

I really would like to know who was on the Selection Team. Did it include Canada?

I would be interested to know as well how many bidders there were and who they were and how the RFP was advertised. Were all of the bidders qualified?

Can we really take this RFP process seriously if the consultant was supposed to look at the 2008 Canada report which was produced by WSA as well? Would Canada allow a consultant other than WSA to look at their supposedly confidential information?

One can suspect that if WSA became the MDOT consultant then their report had to be consistent with what they said for Canada in their report. It would make no sense otherwise. Would another consultant have done the same as well? Fortunately, WSA was picked so this question never had to be answered.

Let us see now. I like the concept of objectivity but how can WSA even claim to be objective considering that they signed a DRIC advocacy advertisement supporting that bridge. Are they really going to produce a report that would kill that bridge?

Can a consultant who acted at the Blue Water Bridge project and at the Peace Bridge one, especially if these projects are competitive with a Detroit/Windsor bridge, be without a conflict of interest and remain objective? I wonder how MDOT can justify spending a half a billion dollars in Port Huron for a new plaza when the DRIC project according to WSA will take a chunk of their truck traffic away from them. Why are they spending the money if traffic will be reduced?

And I mentioned the fact that a source told me that WSA did a traffic study for the Mich-Can people. If that the bridge had been built, I was told that it would be in receivership today because the traffic forecasts projected and actual are not the same because of the economic meltdown that apparently was not contemplated.

Clearly, this is not my call. However, when has that stopped me before? I'll tell you one thing; I would have a great deal of difficulty believing the MDOT people who are involved in the DRIC file in anything that they have to say after looking at the RFP.

I just do not believe that people should be allowed to get away with it as if there is no accountability or responsibility. Something needs to be done and the Senators should do it.

It begs the question of what else may not be as it appears to be. Such as P3 legislation for instance and everything told to us about how riskless it is to Michigan Taxpayers.

As far as I'm concerned, anything that MDOT tells us should be dismissed out of hand.

It is no wonder that the DRIC-ites tell us to "ASK NO QUESTIONS." They already know how bad the answers would be.