Thursday, February 14, 2013

Remain calm everyone: Streetcar soars over budget already

Update Read Dohoney's February 2012 letter detailing budgeted costs

The continuing, soothing refrain of "Remain calm, all is well" from Mayor Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney while the Streetcar project careens behind schedule and over-budget is already wearing thin, yet they persist.

The story below the headline, "Streetcar Track bids exceed City estimates," is devastating to the project, with the lowest bid for the largest component for the project coming in at 58% over-budget. 
So much so, that even though the schedule has been set, the $20 million order already placed for the actual streetcars, and a total of $42 million has been spent to date, the City Manager is contemplating throwing out these bids, and starting over, throwing the project even further behind schedule.

The lowest bid of the three bids received this week for laying the streetcar tracks, from well-connected Cincinnati contractor Messer Construction, is $70.9 compared to only $44.6 estimated for the work, blowing a $37.3 million hole in the budget. The highest bid came in 115% over-budget, a massive $46.9 million gap.

This is, of course, on top of budget holes that already exist for the Duke Energy component, plus the potential loss of Blue Ash Airport proceeds from pending litigation.  COAST will report later on the constantly upwardly-evolving Streetcar budget numbers, and the constantly behinder-getting streetcar schedule.  Consistent with the COAST refrain, "it is getting boondogglier everyday." 

Amazingly the City Manager admits in the story "I didn’t really expect them to come in at [budgeted figures]."  Then why the hell did he write the budget that way?  Is it intentionally designed to deceive people?  After all, a budget is supposed to be a reasonable expectation of the cost of a project.  If you "don't really expect" to make the budget, then, ummm, revise the budget to what you "really expect."

As the financial assumptions continue to play out disastrously for the Streetcar, Mallory's six votes on Council (including 2013 Mayoral candidate Roxanne Qualls) remain firmly behind the foolish project.  They "own it," as they say heading into the fall election.

Yes.  They.  Do.

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