Report Rips Port Authority for Ballooning WTC Costs

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