Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Great Tunnel Bailout of 2009

Just when you thought the North Shore Extension might go away for a while, the much maligned light rail extension rears its ugly head again. Apparently, the Port Authority is faced with a pretty significant decision come March of this year.

If the Port Authority doesn't receive another $117.8 million cash infusion, the North Shore Extension will be brought to a grinding halt.


The project, originally estimated around $435 million, has seen its costs sore to around $552 million. If the Port Authority is not able to make up the funding shortfall by March, they may need to mothball the entire project, according to Steve Bland.

I don't even know where to start my rant! You have a large cost project, that nets you next to nothing in stops, and population served, and now this high cost low gain project is in financial jeopardy.

As much as I think the North Shore Connector has given mass transit in Pittsburgh a black eye, I think stopping now would be incredibly foolish. From reading the article in the Post Gazette, it would cost an additional $21.3 million to stop work, and an addition $3 million each month that no work goes on. The longer this thing drags on unfinished, the less chance some intellegent mass transit plans of the future would have of coming to fruition.

The Port Authority needs to take one for the team, and lobby aggresively to get the needed funding. The one silver lining to this dark cloud is that there's a new sheriff in town, who has already stated that infrastructure and transportation are going to be major focuses during his term. As much as I hate to say it, this project needs to get done, or a better project of the future may not get the same chance the North Shore Connector did.

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