Now comes a Port Authority spokesman to tell us that the Connector project is 72 percent complete and $1.9 million under budget. Anyone who has followed the long and shameful history of the machinations necessary to get the project funded and underway will surely be dumbstruck by the Authority’s comment.
The Connector was initially approved by the Feds in 2003 when it was projected to cost $362 million. As cost overruns started to come in, the Port Authority dropped the convention center leg and station saving probably $60 to $80 million. Nonetheless, the cost estimate for the river tunnel leg and new stations rose to $435 million. Not only did costs rise but the projected economic benefits generated by the convention center leg-which had been forecast to be a major contributor to the overall benefits of the Connector development-were abandoned.
As the Connector project finally got underway, the Port Authority blithely announced in January 2009 that the new cost estimate of the Connector was being placed at $530 million.
In short, the river tunnel crossing and stations that were sold as costing around $300 million had risen by $230 million or 77 percent. So how can a spokesman now claim with a straight face the project is almost $2 million under budget? Apparently, he is depending on folks having a very short memory. An assumption a lot of politicians and public spokespeople make frequently.
With 28 percent of the project still incomplete, it might be a little early to be bragging about being under budget. Stuff happens.