March 28, 2010 Update:
I love to read the Sunday paper with breakfast on the weekends. Today I was treated to another classic example of government gone bad with our money. The headline read “Transit bridge projects in jeopardy” as the Port Authority of Allegheny County complains that they may have to defer repairs to some of the “poor” bridges that they own. Spokespersons take a matter of fact approach to the unsafe structures; “This kind of thing is fairly common — every year we have more capital projects than can be funded, so the ones that don’t make the final budget stay in the queue for another year.”
Taken on its own I might have felt some compassion for their fiscal plight except that I know what their right hand is doing. The Authority does not have enough money to fix the structures yet they have their own version of Boston’s Big Dig. They are in the midst of tunneling under the Allegheny River to build a connector from Pittsburgh’s North Shore (PNC Park and Heinz Field) to the downtown area. I cannot help but shake my head as I think of this boondoggle.
The original budget for the Connector was around $280 million that swelled to $529 million. My guess is $529 would have given them a lot of repair on the structures that they already own and are supposed to maintain. It isn’t all bad news as the Authority proudly announced recently that they have been able to cut money from the project to save tax dollars. They saved an unimpressive $10 million on a project that is nearly $250 million OVERBUDGET!