Bob Bruhns 
Member since Dec 8, 2012


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Re: “Wrong Turn

In Northern Virginia, the line item cost figures are never revealed for the Dulles Metrorail project (also known as the Silver Line), which so far is a PPTA established without competitive bids. However, when the DOT and FTA came to town in June 2011, they leaked a few numbers - one figure was $53 million high because it included a second price that was also tallied elsewhere. Naturally, that was corrected Very Quietly.

From those numbers, we could see a near double price in the prices for a rail station and some parking garages in that project. And since then, the estimates we have been given for those items hyperinflated by 22% for the rail station and 29% for the parking garages. As near as we can tell, the price for the whole rail project is two times what it should be, and the DOT recently caught the agency in charge of the project funneling work to a contractor at 130% to 330% of what other contractors charge for the same work - that's not a typo, 130% to 330% of what other contractors charge for the same work - but yet our leaders and our news media are totally ununiterested. Remarkably, our public is equally apathetic, but this will probably change when the costs show up in our tolls and taxes. And that would be bad enough, but the rest of the Metro system needs $13.1 Billion for its maintenance and capital needs, and we are also facing the coming fiscal cliff.

PPTAs put our less than brilliant politicians up against big contractors and estimators who have a trail of bankrupt toll roads, ballooning prices and such behind them. The public has no say on the bonds to pay for all of this, because the tolls are not considered taxes, and the bonds are called 'revenue bonds' and not 'general obligation bonds', hence they do not show up on the ballot to surprise voters who only planned to vote D or R.

This game is all based on borrowed money. Where are Moodys, Fitch and Standard & Poors? One day soon, this trio will say "Game Over" - because we can't pay bills that are this big.

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Posted by Bob Bruhns on 12/08/2012 at 3:54 PM

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