Monday, November 2, 2020

#atxcouncil, ProjectConnect: The Ultimate Cautionary Example

Exit 96th st. and Second Ave

"Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it.
But the correction of fools is folly."
Proverbs 16:22

We just finished reading "The Last Subway: The Long Wait for the Next Train in New York City," by Philip Mark Plotch.  We're not going to do a full book review (although there's a very good one here), because most of the conclusions are obvious.  Nevertheless, for those interested in that level of detail, we strongly recommend Plotch's book.

We snapped the above photo during our recent trip to New York City. We had to see it. Because we never thought it would happen in our lifetime.

Obviously, we’ve all heard horror stories of construction projects taking years, if not decades, longer than anticipated to complete. Ten years. Twenty years. If you’ve been following the subject long enough, you’ve seen the examples.

But how about 113 years?!?

Because that’s how long it took New York City’s second avenue subway line to materialize after being originally proposed.

From the moment the system opened in 1903, a second avenue line was planned. Unfortunately, due to a combination of economic fluctuations, political incompetence, and the general arc of history, it never got done. Finally, in 2017 (ie. Just four years ago), a very truncated version finally came online.

The ‘completed’ version added a mere three stops, from what was originally envisioned as a Bronx to Brooklyn line. This despite the fact that project costs ballooned from an anticipated $300 million to over $4.6 Billion. Thus, did the second avenue subway become one of the most expensive per mile infrastructure projects in American history.

What does this mean for Austin?!?

Austin voters will are being asked to approve a gargantuan tax increase to fund the city council’s light rail proposal. Rail proponents claim their project will cost $7.1 Billion and that construction will take around a decade.

Given council’s long standing lack of credibility, there’s every reason to be skeptical of the numbers they’re selling. Still, it’s impossible to know what the final totals will be. All you know for sure is that the numbers are likely to be much higher.

The Second avenue subway, however, is a real world example where “the numbers are likely to be much higher” means fifteen times the cost and a full century behind schedule.

Bottom Line: We really would be well served to avoid making this obvious and predictable mistake.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.