Back in early October, when opined on the way we spend transportation dollars in New York City, I railed against the $3.4 billion price tag attached to the Calatrava-designed PATH hub at the World Trade Center. In the comments to that piece, Charles Komanoff urged me to find a cost breakdown of the design elements, and that week, I submitted a FOIA request to the Port Authority for that information. If we knew just how much the Port Authority is spending on design, we would have a better platform from which to view the project.
It’s now mid-January, and I’m still waiting on those numbers. I’ve heard from the PA a few times. First, they promised me my documents in November, then in December and now next week. It can’t be that hard to drum up an outline of the dollars being spent on construction of the steel porcupine vs. the dollars spent on improving passenger flow and transit capacity. But apparently, those aren’t figures the PA is too keen on releasing.
Today, in The Wall Street Journal, Eliot Brown provides us with a glimpse into the inner workings of the construction at the World Trade Center site, and it seems that the steel demands for Calatrava hub are slowing down the works and causing costs to spike. He reports:
Long beset by delays and cost overruns, construction at the World Trade Center site faces another potential snag: the financial struggles of the company responsible for erecting the massive steel skeletons of two towers and a $3.4 billion transportation hub. For months, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been quietly advancing money to the contractor responsible for fabricating and putting up steel for the projects, which include One World Trade Center, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company, DCM Erectors, has more than $700 million worth of steel contracts at the site. The firm has told the Port Authority that it is facing cash-flow problems in part because of the project’s complexity, and also because of the amount of time it takes for the agency to approve extra costs…
The company’s troubles speak to some of the larger problems with the site’s redevelopment, which is running billions of dollars over original budget projections. The transportation hub alone has a price tag of $3.4 billion, up from an expected $2 billion in 2007. DCM’s woes stem largely from the station, which features giant steel arches that soar over a large train hall, and the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center.
According to The Journal, DCM apparently “underestimated costs,” which goes without saying considering how the cost of the hub is up 70 percent over initial estimates and could climb even higher.
At this point in the process, no one will stop the Calatrava Hub or save the money. This is, however, a severely misguided project that is flushing transportation dollars down the drain. Between the Calatrava Hub and the Fulton Street Transit Center, various government agencies will have spent nearly $5 billion to deliver litle in the way of transportation capacity improvements. For that money, the feds could have guaranteed ARC Tunnel overruns or built another section and a half of the Second Ave. Subway. Misguided priorities indeed.