Audit of the North Shore Connector
One of the most controversial projects in Pittsburgh in the last few years is the so-called North Shore Connector; the twin tunnels being built under the Allegheny River to connect downtown Pittsburgh with the North Shore.
The cost originally was estimated at $425 million, but with cost overruns and building corrections, it is now estimated that the actual cost is 528.8 million.
There was never any real support for the Connector project except from a contingent of politicians and union officials. Not only was the Connector not needed, it has been a real redundancy in a city like Pittsburgh replete with bridges crossing the rivers. In addition to the outrageous building costs, there has been strong opposition to the project because there is no assurance that the Connector will be used and probably will run at a deficit. Political leaders have lent their support to the project – at least some of them – because the bulk of the money involved in the construction will come from federal funds.
The way things were structured – it was stressed that if the funds were not used for the Connector, they would be withdrawn by the federal government. In other words…use the funds to build the Connector whether it has merit or not. It was labeled a boondoggle from the very beginning, but its supporters – few though the may be – were reluctant to see the federal funds reverting back to the government.
The completion of the connector was scheduled for 2011. As anyone who travels downtown knows, construction has tied up the lower triangle for many months.
We have editorialized against the Connector project since its very inception many months ago. We have stressed time after time that this project is not only a waste of money, but it has all the earmarks for a white elephant – an albatross hanging around the neck of the city!
The subject of the Connector has come back in the public spotlight when State Auditor General Jack Wagner criticized mistakes in design specifications and major cost overruns. He has called for an audit in the immediate future.
In Wagner’s words – the continuance of overruns and flaws in the project is beyond any standard of acceptability. As we see it, the city is caught with its feet in quicksand…mired in the stench of political manure…from which we must extract ourselves.
To this end, we support Auditor General Jack Wagner’s position! Let’s move ahead with an audit and establish what a mess we are in!
Robert W. Dickey
Broadcast: June 11, 12, 13, 2010
Your editorial on the north-shore connector is right on. It is my opinion that the cost overruns were predictable from the start -based upon my half century experience in architecture and construction. You reference the politicians who allowed this to happen; since it is public information, why not print the names for the benefit of the community?-S D, Edgewood PA
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