AUGUST 3, 2010 | by ERIC BOEHM
A Pittsburgh commuter rail project called "a tragic mistake" by none other than Gov. Ed Rendell and described as a "tunnel to nowhere" by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial board was ranked third on a list of worst stimulus projects released Tuesday by U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
The project was originally expected to cost taxpayers $390 million, but is now estimated at $529 million. Last year, the project received more than $62 million in federal stimulus funds. The Federal Transit Administration had already given the Port Authority of Allegheny County $348 million to cover construction costs.
The North Shore Connector tunnel was planned to extend the city’s light rail system beneath the Allegheny River to join the downtown with the new Rivers Casino, and the stadiums of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers.
In a 2007 audit, state Auditor General Jack Wagner revealed construction bids for the project came in 24 percent higher than the engineer’s original estimate for the project. In February 2009 Mr. Rendell said the project was "a tragic mistake."
"I wish the project had never started. I think it’s a huge – I won’t say waste of money – but there’s so many ways that money could have been applied to the transportation needs of this region in a more beneficial fashion," said Mr. Rendell. Click here to read more.
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