David Brewster at Crosscut points me to the Miller-McCune list of the “The World’s Biggest Boondoggles”. Sound Transit Link Light Rail comes in Fourth, after the Denver International Airport, the Chunnel, and the Big Dig. Also on the list are Miami’s Metrorail expansion, the Jacob Javits Convention Center of New York and the Sydney Opera House. So apparently the “World” is made up of three countries who speak English. Never mind dams in China that cost ten times their original $2.6 estimate, they don’t speak English, so they don’t count.
Annoyingly, the Miller-McCune piece lumps the Monorail in with Link, and completely ignores inflation in all the numbers. They mention a 1958 study that said Bart would cost $586 million to $716 million, and by October 1974, the cost was $1.6 billion. Inflation of just 4% during that period (much of the 70’s had double-digit inflation), would have pushed the price from $716 to $1.6 billion. Not much for report.
Brewster points out:
Are you shocked? If so, consider that most of these projects are in fact wildly popular, even if the public had to be gulled to go along with building them… And often these are newly formed agencies, as Sound Transit was, and they can make lots of rookie mistakes in the first years
Sound Transit definitely had it’s problems in its infancy, but it’s comforting for Link to be on a list with BART and the Sydney Opera House. That’s good company.