By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
A San Francisco Bay Area subway extension originally estimated to cost $4.7 billion now has a $6.9 billion price tag and its start date has been pushed back three to four years.
The project to extend Bay Area Rapid Transit service through downtown San Jose will cost more than $1 billion per mile. The project is requesting $1.7 billion in federal funding. Congress has already provided $225 million.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) gave the U.S. Department of Transportation a July 2021 Squeal Award “for allowing taxpayers to be taken for a ride on this gravy train that is billions over budget.”
Furthermore, Ernst authored a bill that would prohibit spending federal money on transportation projects where cost overruns exceed $1 billion.
Congressional Democrats tried to insert a $141 million earmark into the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in March. Republicans called the project the “Pelosi Subway” and the earmark was eventually scrapped. Congress is currently debating the infrastructure bill and pork is back on the table.
The project is a six-mile, four-station extension, with a 4.7-mile tunnel under downtown San Jose, and its construction is based on a method pioneered in Barcelona intended to lower costs and minimize street level disruptions.
But the Spanish project cost less than $250 million per mile, while the BART extension is set to cost more than $1 billion per mile.
“Not a whole lot of places anywhere are doing big things well,” spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Randy Rentschler said. “But, the Bay Area is doing it worse.”
The subway is being built by one transit agency, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, but BART will run it. That has caused years of complications between the two agencies over project plans.
Out-of-control projects like the BART extension must have its federal funding cut off to send a message that taxpayer dollars are valued and not to be wasted.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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