This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

The Overhead Wire points to a Charlotte blog that shows that Charlotte’s light rail University extension will cost more than planned:

The Lynx extension will be much more complicated to build than the original light-rail line, which opened in 2007. That line cost $48 million per mile. The extension could cost more than $100 million per mile.

TOW wonders, “Why must they cost so much!!!??!!!” In a separate article, The Infrastructurist proclaims that “Building A Subway Is 96 Percent Cheaper In China”, a figure they arrive at by comparing the cost of building a subway in China as”$100 million per mile versus $2.4 billion per mile in the Big Apple.”

Okay, $2.4B is on the high end because… well, it’s New York. But $100M per mile for China — considering that there’s NO environmental review and abysmal labor conditions — actually sounds like it’s in the ballpark of most US systems, no? Sound Transit’s Link will be in the neighborhood of $150M – $200M per mile (guessing here), and that’s got a substantial subway component.

Obviously there are lots of differences between China, Charlotte, Seattle, and New York, in terms of rail technologies, costs of construction, labor, etc., etc. Still — $100M per mile doesn’t seem all that expensive to me, in Charlotte OR China, especially when you compare it to the costs of building a new highway that would carry that many people.

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