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Is the North Shore Connector Over Budget?

January 18th, 2009 · 2 Comments

As the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field today, I decided to check on the progress of the North Shore Connector, which will likely be used by many fans for transportation to the Steelers games when it is completed in 2011.

This past week, the tunnel boring machine completed its digging of the second of two tunnels that the light rail transportation system will use between the North Shore and downtown Pittsburgh. As reported by WPXI, the project is on time and on budget according to the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

That was a bit intriguing to read, because the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported just two days later that the project is in jeopardy because it is $117.8 million over budget. Without additional funding (from the federal stimulus package or another source), a Port Authority spokeswoman said, it won’t be completed.

The last I had heard, the budget for the project was $435 million. A cost overrun of 25% sounds like a pretty significant amount in today’s economic environment. I had heard that there were concerns about cost overruns for the project back in the summer because of escalating commodity prices, but I expected that declining prices on commodities would alleviate some of those issues. Can anyone explain the discrepancy between the two news articles?

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