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#1 2009-04-07 22:57:38

Kevin
Administrator
From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

KHOU-11's Jeremy Desel has been examining what METRO is telling the public about the costs of rail expansion versus what METRO is telling the federal government about the costs of rail expansion, and -- shock! -- he finds large discrepancies.

The initial story is set up as one of those typically formulaic he-said/he-said standoffs between Paul Magaziner and Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson, but we're going to take on the role of really good editor, excise those elements, and give the facts center stage:

On March 4, the Metro Board voted on a contract with the Parsons Group to design, build and operate four new Light Rail lines.

The cost for the North Line would be $387 million, and the cost for the Southeast Line would be $441 million.

[snip]

According to letters dated on March 23 from Metro to the Federal Transit Administration, Metro indicated that the current net project cost estimate would be $896 million for the North Line and $911 million for the Southeast Line.

The numbers in the letters are more than double the estimated costs in Metro's contract with its builder.

Neal Meyer also takes on the part of really good editor, and offers this synopsis:

Last month, the Metro board announced that it had approved a deal (though it had not signed a contract) with Parsons Transport Group where Parsons would lead a consortium to build four of the Metro Solutions Phase 2 rail lines, but not including the Wheeler / Richmond rail alignment. This deal would involve building a total 20 miles of Metro's planned 30 miles light rail for a price $1.46 billion. The costs of the North Corridor and Southeast Corridors were announced to be $387 and $441 million respectively. Desel's accompanying news story showed footage of last month's board meeting where Chairman David Wolff expressed optimism of falling costs, presumably due to a fall in materials costs resulting from the current economic downturn.

However, apparently in an FTA Letter of No Prejudice communication dated March 23rd 2009, the costs of the North and Southeast Corridors were stated at $896,797,000 and $911,211,000 respectively.

[snip]

...Metro has been telling the public and Parsons one thing and the FTA something entirely different concerning project costs. At $897 million, the 5.4 miles of the North Corridor will run $166 million per mile. The Southeast Corridor will run at $134 million per mile. At costs like this, the 30 miles of Phase 2 will run $4.5 billion plus, a figure the Wizard predicted 18 months ago.

Taxpayers deserve better than this. The discrepancies between both sets of numbers is between $2 - $3 billion....

THAT is the punch line (not that Paul Magaziner and Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson dispute the amount of the discrepancy, or that Magaziner opposes wasteful METRO projects in general).

Unfortunately, Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson refuses to speak to Desel about the discrepancies. In a report tonight, Desel said a METRO vice president initially had something to say about the numbers, then decided that he did not have anything to say. Perhaps in the coming days, somebody at METRO will have something to say about what looks like a doubling in costs for METRO Solutions and an effort to keep the public in the dark. We hope it will be more helpful than Raequel Roberts rambling on nonsensically about nine-volt batteries or the organization's expensive blogger rambling on about China's ambitions to make significant quantities of electric cars.



Link to post:  http://www.bloghouston.net/item/7580

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#2 2009-04-08 09:02:47

yamadude
Member
From: Jersey Village
Registered: 2005-12-14
Posts: 1,015

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

They have to factor in their bonuses.

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#3 2009-04-08 09:44:36

ct
Member
From: 77019
Registered: 2007-04-18
Posts: 221

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

sounds like fraud.

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#4 2009-04-08 14:27:34

IHB2
Member
Registered: 2006-05-06
Posts: 291

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

"In a report tonight, Desel said a METRO vice president initially had something to say about the numbers, then decided that he did not have anything to say"


Kevin this was on the khou report and could be the VP to whom Desel is referring:

"Metro President Frank Wilson was unavailable to comment on the cost discrepancy at this time, but Metro Spokesman George Smalley says that in no way was there an attempt to mislead the public.

Smalley also says that the $900 million per line numbers mentioned in the Federal Transit Administration letters are likely the best estimate.

"The number that is in the FTA letter is the latest estimate. I’m not going to say it will be the final number. I don't think it will be," Smalley said.

Smalley says the cost of acquiring land, rail cars for the future and financing are what make up the difference between the contract cost and the actual cost."

well! I guess it depends on what the cost of cost is...

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#5 2009-04-08 22:16:43

Royko
Member
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1,752

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

When will the Mayor shake up the METREAUX BOD's? Or are they just carrying out his directives?

Last edited by Royko (2009-04-08 22:17:10)


"I'll keep my God, my liberty, my guns,
and my meager earnings; whereas,
you can keep "THE CHANGE!"

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#6 2009-04-09 08:39:54

CK
Member
From: Rice Military
Registered: 2005-04-28
Posts: 640

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

Metreaux will continue to do whatever a decidely left-bent mayoral administration wants it to do.  Until this city actually elects an administration that represents the people instead of higher political aspirations, we will continue to be mired in deceptive organizations like Metreaux distorting facts to fit their own socialist agendas.

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#7 2009-04-09 10:45:17

El Capitan
Member
From: Spring Branch West
Registered: 2005-09-23
Posts: 15
Website

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

Socialist agendas?  If METRO truly had socialist leanings, we'd have fleets of alternate-fuel buses serving the pore & starvin' masses in all areas of town, and not an overpriced toy train serving the upper middle class that office in the CBD and the Med Center.  No, this is just an untethered bureaucracy run amok, gleefully giving the taxpayer the one-finger salute, 'cause short of torches, pitchforks, tar & feathers, there's nothing to stop them from doing exactly as they please, public referenda be damned.

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#8 2009-04-09 12:52:08

Royko
Member
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1,752

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

Just to make sure, Senator Wentworth is ramming through a law that bumps the number of signatures so high, the bureaucrats seem confident no one will ever be able to satisfy the requirement.


"I'll keep my God, my liberty, my guns,
and my meager earnings; whereas,
you can keep "THE CHANGE!"

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#9 2009-04-09 13:46:20

Neal Meyer
Member
From: Houston
Registered: 2005-12-19
Posts: 686
Website

Re: KHOU's Desel exposes light-rail cost discrepancies...

Royko,

This is a little off of the Metro cost overrun subject train (no pun intended!), but in answer to your comment, that particular piece of legislation has been stopped in its tracks. Or, I should say that it has been at least for now. One of the joys concerning the workings of the legislature is that you never quite know if someone is going to try to sneak something out of committee in the last days or weeks of the session, or if a group is going to try to make an end run around and push through similar legislation in the other deliberative body while you aren't looking.

Sigh...

Neal

Last edited by Neal Meyer (2009-04-09 13:46:52)


It's one thing to read or listen to what people say they want. It is far more important however to watch what people actually do. That is when you can make a judgment as to what it is that people really value and what is genuinely important to them.

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