Dulles Rail Phase II is incredibly expensive. So, nobody wants to pay for it. The toll road users don't want to pay for it. Virginia taxpayers don't want to pay for it. US taxpayers don't want to pay for it.
Our leaders are continually quoted in the news media, saying that they are looking at ways to lower the costs of this incredibly expensive project. We even had the FTA come and examine the project and recommend a few things.
So it is a mystery to me why all of these leaders and agencies, and all of their accountants and analysts, did not notice that in line item after line item, the costs in Dulles Rail Phase II are about twice what would be expected, based on recent similar work in similar areas.
Consider the following three comparisons.
COMPARISON 1: THE FRANCONIA-SPRINGFIELD METRO EXTENSION
Dulles Rail Phase II is about five times the size of the Franconia-Springfield Metro job.
Franconia-Springfield: 3.3 miles of track and a station - $175 million in 1997.
Dulles Rail Phase II: 11.6 miles of track and six stations - over $3 billion in 2012.
Five times $175 million is $875 million. But the cost of Dulles Rail Phase II is over $3 billion. That's about 3.5 times the proportional cost of the Springfield Metro, probably even more. But for argument's sake, I will say 3.5 to 1.
Could this 3.5 to 1 increase be a result of inflation, when the construction industry is depressed? No. Here is Comparison 2 to show that inflation does not account for this 3.5 to 1 bloat.
COMPARISON 2: THE FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT METRO STATION
A metro station completed in December 2011 in posh Fairfield, Connecticut cost $43.7 million AFTER cost overruns, while our comparable Rt 28 station will supposedly cost $83 million. Can anybody tell me why our stations should cost two times as much?
Millions more needed to finish Fairfield Metro station.
Fairfield Metro Station Opens.
Confirmation of the $83 million cost for Dulles Rail Rt 28 station from Fairfax County Executive Griffin, August 3, 2011:
COMPARISON 3: THE DULLES RAIL PHASE II PARKING GARAGES
PARKING GARAGE COSTS TRANSFERRED TO LOUDOUN AND FAIRFAX COUNTIES
Per July 3, 2011 FTA White Paper (See Page 4, bottom, which is sheet 5 of the pdf.)
Herndon-Monroe: $51.4M, 1949 spaces ($26,372 per space)
Rt 28: $53.5M, 2027 spaces ($26,392 per space)
Rt 606: $51.9M, 1965 spaces ($26,412 per space)
Rt 772 North: $37.8M, 1434 spaces ($26,359 per space)
Rt 778 South: $40.6M, 1540 spaces ($26,363 per space)
TOTAL: $235.3M, 8915 spaces ($26,394 per space)
In comparison, here is a recent price analysis on parking garage costs in North America. It is in Canadian dollars - but the Canadian dollar / US dollar exchange rate since 2007 has ranged from 1.0 to 1.2 - meaning that if anything, the cost of the Dulles Rail Phase II parking garages is even more bloated than a direct comparison indicates.
$26,394 per space is VERY much on the high side, exceeding even the costs in New York City! And the $20,326 per space cost in New York City is very much on the high side of the US national average cost. Think about it - Dulles Rail Phase II is not in a congested city, it is in a suburb. Our cost should be more like the US average of $15,000 per space, I think. No?
We are clearly being handed a $40 million overcharge for the Rt 28 station... so what about the other five stations - Reston Parkway, Herndon, Dulles Airport, Rt 606 and Rt 772? Should we not expect that they will cost $40 million too much, as well? We could easily have about $240 million of overcharge for the Dulles Rail Phase II stations.
And it looks as though we are being overcharged by at least $101.6 million for the parking garages too.
So even though our leaders claim to have been looking for costs that can be cut in this project, and even though the FTA came in and did the same thing, we have a definite $141 million overcharge that can easily be seen in these two items alone, and probably another $200 million overcharge from the other five stations in Dulles Rail Phase II. I think it is very likely that the total does indeed equal or even exceed $340 million of overcharge for the stations and parking garages alone!
These are not small errors, these are nearly two-to-one excesses! So why did all of the official analysts miss this? Did they even look at it at all? And do our leaders not compare costs before accepting such incredibly expensive proposals? What is going on here? And what else will I find as I examine the rest of the line items?
You know... if MWAA and FTA managed to overcharge us so much for THOSE things... maybe it's time to ask what ELSE they did. I think it is time for a serious and official review and adjustment of the costs that MWAA and FTA are trying to force upon this region. Not another FTA whitewash, but a real review and adjustment. No?