Out of Control Policy Blog

Another Day, Another Rail Boondoggle

This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone:

    The engineering firms developing the plan to extend Metrorail through Tysons Corner told Virginia transportation leaders yesterday that the project as envisioned will probably cost $2.4 billion, a 60 percent increase over the previous estimate and a price that far outstrips the carefully negotiated financing agreement.

    Project leaders said they would immediately start work on revising the scope of the construction to reduce that figure, but it was not immediately clear how much cost-cutting would be feasible.

    "There's no way we can build a project that costs that much money," Sam Carnaggio, the state's project director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, said of the $2.4 billion figure. "Now's the time to separate the needs from the wants."

    [...]

    The first phase of the line would extend from West Falls Church through Tysons to Wiehle Avenue, in the Reston area. Opponents have criticized the segment as far too pricey, given that it is likely to attract about 15,100 new daily riders. Metro averages nearly 660,000 passengers daily.

    Yesterday's report is likely to be seized upon by those who have been calling for the rail money to be spent instead for roads, innovative bus systems or other transportation solutions.

    "This should come as a wake-up call," said William Vincent, an advocate for a system known as Bus Rapid Transit, which has buses running in dedicated lanes and stopping at stations in a manner similar to trains. "It demonstrates the need once again to come up with a more cost-effective strategy."

For more on the ubiquitous rail estimate bait-and-switch, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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