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Report Rips Port Authority for Ballooning WTC Costs

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Steel mesh at One World Trade Center on 10.25.2011. Steel mesh at One World Trade Center on 10.25.2011. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The agency building the new World Trade Center has let costs get out of control, with the estimated price tag soaring nearly $4 billion over the last four years, auditors said Tuesday.

Navigant Consulting said the Port Authority is a "a challenged and dysfunctional organization" and that the project is now expected to cost $14.8 billion, 35 percent more than the last estimate, of $11 billion, in 2008.

The audit also cited the Port Authority for a lack of consistent leadership, poor capital planning, insufficient cost controls, and a lack of transparent and effective oversight for problems at the World Trade Center program.  It also  identified approximately $1 billion in additional cost overruns that will happen unless the Port Authority finds a way to trim costs.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a joint statement said, “This record of historic failure must be reversed.” They ordered the review of the World Trade Center site's owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, after the agency's board voted to raise bridge and tunnel tolls in August.

The auditors said the Port Authority, which runs area transit hubs, including Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, is "a challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, poorly coordinated capital planning processes, insufficient cost controls and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the Port Authority."

Port Authority Executive Pat Foye acknowledged the problems in a statement on the agency’s website.  “The consultant’s preliminary review underscores the need for the Port Authority to refocus,” said Foye. “A poorly coordinated capital planning process, insufficient cost controls and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the Port Authority all played a role in getting us to where we are today.”

The Port Authority has lost millions of dollars in revenue because of lower traffic at the ports, airports and river crossings it operates, and the World Trade Center has suffered a number of setbacks since rebuilding began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks destroyed its Twin Towers.

The company that is laying steel for the main tower has also run into financial problems. A mistake in the design means the Port Authority will have to spend millions of dollars on temporary loading docks for the building. And the builders of the Sept. 11 museum are fighting with the agency over construction costs.

With reporting from Janet Babin

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Comments [1]

Peter Talbot from Harrison, NJ

Nothing new. The original WTC was an even worse boondoggle, produced by the same organization. PATH exists to prevent what preceded it: terrible turf battles between railroads and ocean terminals and associated labor organizations and coincident criminal enterprises resulting in waste, pollution, stock shenanigans and even less residual constructed benefit. The idea that the admins in Trenton and Albany will do a better job without it is chimerical. Lack of long term joint planning and the terrible shape of North Jersey transportation investments (buses and more buses; roads and more roads; crumbling bridges and polluted rivers) that needs greater direct investment will ensure that no authority (joint or otherwise) can effectively move forward: the costs are too much higher now than when action should have been taken in the 1960's.

Aug. 15 2012 02:06 PM

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