Why Are New York Transit Projects So Expensive?

Going back to Robert Moses, New York City has a history of underestimating the price of major construction projects. Inflated infrastructure costs are prompting stakeholders to seek out root causes.
April 13, 2015, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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New York MTA

Compared to the costs of similar infrastructure in other major cities, the astronomical prices of NYC transit builds are puzzling. 

In an article for Capital New York, Dana Rubinstein writes, "How New York City's megaprojects compare in cost to those in similarly developed countries around the world is a question that is, somehow, very rarely studied." 

Of course, New York is hardly the only city where politics leads to optimistic cost estimates. "A widely cited Danish study from 2002 found that, worldwide, '[u]nderestimation of costs at the time of decision to build is the rule rather than the exception for transportation infrastructure projects.'"

But New York is exceptional in the degree of the problem and its regularity. During his 2011 mayoral campaign, city comptroller Scott Stringer put it succinctly: "We cannot build a 21st-century city and compete globally if we continue to spend five, even seven times as much on construction projects as compared to our competitors."

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Published on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Capital
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