February 27, 2013
Cost Overruns Past, Present and Future
Engineering errors may cause a $100 million dollar cost increase on the SR 520 bridge project and slide opening well into 2015. Remember the proposed monorail from Ballard to West Seattle? The people voted for it before they voted against it. Cutting their losses on a flawed, mismanaged project was good for taxpayers but guess who picked up the tab for multiple millions spent before the monorail was killed? Or how about Sound Transit light rail, hundreds of millions of overruns swept under the rug. There was this guy, County Council Member Rob McKenna, on the ST board who kept blowing the whistle but County Executive Ron Sims, kicked him off. Speaking of Mr. Sims, he was leading King County when it blew through something like $42 million for a new computer system that didn't work. We dynamited the King Dome to make way for Paul Allen's Quest/Clink Field. Great facility, Go Hawks, but who covered the $83 million or so still owing on the Dome? The downtown transit tunnel, SeaTac's third runway, Brightwater sewer extension, there's hardly a government project that comes in close to the advertised cost. The future offers numerous opportunities to continue this sterling performance - Alaska Way tunnel, new sea wall, extension of light rail to the Eastside etc.
It's not the seemingly constant need for or the social value of new government projects and programs that is so infuriating. It is the consistent low-balling of the cost estimates, especially when trying to get voter approval for the taxes and/or bonds needed for funding. Added to this are the rosy revenue forecasts of tolls and fares. It's the snake oil promotion of projects by planners and public officials with their fingers crossed behind the their backs. It's the failure to be upfront about extended costs such as maintenance. It's pushing those park and library levies but staying silent about operating costs. It's the claimed devotion to transparency only to cast a smoke screen over the real costs. It's the cover-ups and finger pointing that come after a media expose'. In short, it's the lying.
Posted by warrenpeterson at February 27, 2013
11:37 PM | Email This
1. But if not for the lying, how would Democrats get anything done?
2. wow! many thanks for that tremendous article. I really loved it to the main. Hope you retain publishing these kinds of impressive content pieces
The New Tacoma Narrows Bridge came in under budget
. Maybe it is a Seattle/King County thing.
It's ironic that 2 of Warren's "examples" of cost overruns were nothing of the sort. The voters approved the monorail several times -- against the recommendations of almost all of the city's government and establishment -- before finally (and wisely IMHO) rejecting it. And the voters approved the deal to replace the Kingdome. Disagree if you want, but I fail to see the lying involved here.
There were overruns in light rail, a computer system got messed up, and one part of the 520 bridge has a problem (though even that part still appears to be below the original cost estimate, because they saved so much money by taking a risky approach on the pontoons). Most of us who have worked on large projects in the private sector, even for successful companies, have seen similar problems. That's no excuse. But what's your point? That humans are fallible?
It's actually worse than that, Bruce; Warren seems confused about how infrastructure works, and how we pay for it:
"It's not the seemingly constant need for or the social value of new government projects and programs that is so infuriating."
(Now, admittedly, Warren's possession of front-page posting privileges here implies his writing skills may someday reach all of the way up to the exalted heights called, "marginal," but still...)
SR-520 is the longest floating bridge in the world. It is decades past the original service life, and for those decades, it has carried far more traffic than intended. Most of us understand replacing it will be a huge, expensive, and difficult task, but St. Ronnie told our right-wing friends that they could have government services without paying taxes, so it will forever be true -- for them, anyway.
But if not for the lying, how would Democrats get anything done?
Posted by Leftover at February 28, 2013 04:31 AM
Careful, you just exposed their cover, to which their response would be "Republicans lie and favor corporations which are evil" - (the dirty secret is that a big country would be economically depraved without corporations). They are creative liars and apparently the culture extols that attribute, as does the mainstream. Don't forget, there is a celebrity in the White House and the same rules don't apply to him (In reality - he is Emperor Nero on steroids), but quiet, we mustn't take away from their empty-headed fun.
7. Yeah, I'm sure you guys are just pining for those days, only a decade ago, when truthful leaders like W. could prosecute a just and necessary war with such brilliance, there was no wastage of dollars or lives, and the result was the beautiful paradise we know as modern Iraq.
8. I never said all government projects cost more than advertised or that all of them were unnecessary. I did say advertised costs frequently cover only part of the real costs. Just be truthful up front. Had Congress followed this, we may not have found ourselves in the entitlement and war cost problems we face today.
@7 - Your Bush meme played itself out, as I believed he was a bad president and Iraq was a bad war.
Basically, you really have nothing else to stand on and are in denial about reality. More empty headed fun - eh ?
"I never said all government projects cost more than advertised or that all of them were unnecessary. I did say advertised costs frequently cover only part of the real costs."
But there's a huge difference between that happening as a result of taking on large, complex engineering projects, and that happening from deliberate malice. You groundlessly charged the latter:
"It is the consistent low-balling of the cost estimates, especially when trying to get voter approval for the taxes and/or bonds needed for funding. Added to this are the rosy revenue forecasts of tolls and fares. It's the snake oil promotion of projects by planners and public officials with their fingers crossed behind the their backs. It's the failure to be upfront about extended costs such as maintenance. It's pushing those park and library levies but staying silent about operating costs. It's the claimed devotion to transparency only to cast a smoke screen over the real costs. It's the cover-ups and finger pointing that come after a media expose'. In short, it's the lying."
And I'll respond again: one huge driver of any "low-balling" of estimates are voters who want these government-supplied products and services without paying taxes. Opportunistic hack politicians, who pander to these short-sighted greedheads, exacerbate the problem.
Can the elected officials in this state ever learn from past mistakes ? There is corruption when special interests dictate their votes. Sometimes their votes are against the will of enough people to challenge it with an initiative.
Ron Sims was corrupt as the day is long, incompetent and a statist at heart - that's why Obama selected him. The people elected him here because they bought his big government agenda with a smiling face that will run this place into the ground with the light rail boondoggle - send him a thank you (or an FU) note for the amount of debt he added to our lives. However, I was relieved then to have him leave and go back to DC.
Low information voters guide to politics (H/T - PJ Media)
If you think you only deserve fun answers to all life's questions ... you're right! This primer will help you look smart and morally superior in any political discussion. Just memorize these big words, explained in easy terms you already know from TMZ and The Daily Show:
BIASED: If you have a weird friend who goes to church and her parents are still married, that's what they are.
ELECTIONS: These are like the Teen Choice Awards: the coolest and most popular wins. Democrats always win because they are cool and popular. Republicans are more like your weird friend's parents.
DEBT CEILING: This is like Lindsay Lohan's probation: by law, she should go to jail if she gets arrested, but we all know she won't.
PUBLIC EDUCATION. Think Memento. Remember how the guy in the movie learned to go through life and fight enemies by relying on snapshots, notes, and tattoos? Public education does that on a national level as a free service.
IM-MI-GRA-TION: Whew, that's a long word -- just like that velvet rope outside nightclubs. When really fun people arrive, you just open it right up.
QUAN-TI-TA-TIVE EASING: Remember Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can, and how he printed his own checks? Well, that's what the Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, does. It's really cool.
TRILLION DOLLARS: This is a silly number. If someone says: "The U.S. national debt has topped 16 trillion," take it easy. Remember how Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to fifteen life terms while having only one life?
Once you owe more than you can pay, numbers stop making sense. Anything above that is free money; spend it fast so you can get more.
ECONOMIC STIMULUS: It's like Whitney Houston upping her dosage to get the same high, always needing to use more and more to "chase the dragon."
SE-QUE-STRA-TION: This is just a made-up word that Republicans say to make you feel stupid.
FAIR SHARE: Someone you know has three Louis Vuitton handbags and you only have one. As many as you can get somebody else to steal from them and give to you -- that is your fair share.
ENTITLEMENTS: This is like celebrities getting a $30,000 bag of goodies for showing up to the Oscars, so that the givers get more street cred and respect. And votes.
FOREIGN POLICY: Think Lady Gaga's world tour: it's totally awesome but can also get weird -- like, she's hot in places like Europe and Japan, but gets booed and canceled in places like Indonesia.
IRAN: Think Robert Downey Jr. -- he may be calm at the moment, but if he gets his hands on the wrong stuff, he could trash his neighbor's house and pass out naked on the lawn.
MUSLIMS: These are like the blue people from the movie Avatar -- they live in a magic tree and don't need human technology or any of our laws like gravitation, because they have a miraculous energy source inside their planet. Humans must respect that, and send them humanitarian aid. But instead, an evil corporation from Earth brings drilling equipment; that's why all humans get killed.
ISRAEL: This is like the evil corporation from Avatar that landed on the blue people's planet.
OIL: Think magic energy source on planet Pandora that humans want to steal. Get over it, humans!
OCCUPY WALL STREET: People in this movement are fighting greed by forcing Michael Douglas' character in Wall Street to give more money to the 99% of people like us. We need to support their stand against corporations by friending them on Facebook™ and re-Tweeting them on Twitter™.
MEDIA: The good media are like paparazzi and E! Entertainment who keep it real by telling us all the truth about interesting people. The bad media are like bullies who make good people look bad. Nobody listens to them except for your friend's weird parents.
HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINES: These do not contain expensive perfume samples that you can rip out while waiting at your hair salon. See GUN CONTROL.
GUN CONTROL: If Naomi Campbell had a gun, she would be shooting at her maids all the time. Without a gun she just beats them with a cell phone and then gives them compensation. Everyone is alive and happy. As long as the government keeps guns away from the citizens, Rihanna and Chris Brown will always be together.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Think Brad Pitt, dashing A-lister who can't do anything wrong.
FIRST LADY: She is like Kim Kardashian, only with other people's money.
VICE PRESIDENT: Think Steve Carell, a lovable nincompoop who likes to make others laugh.
WHITE HOUSE: This is like Cribs, a really fancy pad where celebrities hang out and party instead of working.
MIDDLE CLASS: These are like the extras in movies -- kind of important but nobody cares who they really are.
CON-STI-TU-TION: It sounds almost like Cosmopolitan, except it's really old and has no make-up ads or sexy pictures, but some people are really into it, like Antiques Roadshow.
13. ELECTIONS: These are like the Teen Choice Awards: the coolest and most popular wins. Democrats always win because they are cool and popular.
KDS, you're obviously still hurting from the results of the most recent elections. I like to see such honesty at this site, and with Rags demonstrating her Randian independence by doing whatever the next old guy wearing a dress in Rome tells her to do, someone here will have to supply the angry, bitter, off-topic copypasta. Glad to see you're up to the challenge, KDS!
tensor: Some tongue in cheek humor - sorry you took it as anger. Look at yourself in the mirror - Blame Bush always - right ?
How about trying to disprove the definitions I posted instead of lashing out claiming we are angry and bitter to cover your inadequacies. Yes, I am pissed off at the current administration's gangsta government & policies and you & your cohorts who you don't even know personally are too clueless not to be (with all due respect). Perhaps you'd also like to explain how you and the remainder of the low information voters select your candidates you vote for, if its not like you posted above. Dialoguing with you and other leftists is like trying to reason with the unreasonable. Why don't you take this up with Pudge ? (HA- fat chance that will happen).
15. How about you learn that nobody else ever has to disprove whatever nonsense you are pushing? Because you seem to suffer chronic confusion as to what "burden of proof" means.
Is that all you have ? Not so - wait a minute, you need help because you are incapable of mounting a coherent argument that is not superfluous.
Alrighty then - The burden of proof is the 2012 Presidential election cycle.
17. The burden of proof is the 2012 Presidential election cycle.
That's primarily proof that (1) Republicans have no viable candidates, (2) the American right wing has no viable ideas, and, (3) no matter how clear and obvious the data, you guys can "un-skew" it to read however you want. (Hey, it worked with evolution and global warming, right?)
@17 - None of those would have mattered to you low information voters, but a more effective candidate would have made more potential GOP voters turn out to vote.
(2) - Since when do ideas matter to statist intellects like you ? your party hasn't had one in 50 years (3) is downright silly - your solution is throw millions of new tax money at global warming and see the temperature over the planet decrease by 0.02 degree C and listen to hypocrite hucksters like AlGore. Stuck on
RIP - Obama-comrade; Hugo Chavez. Good riddance !
Same thing as I said about Qaddafi, another statist dictator.