Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Still no firm word on Silver Line completion, Washington Post, March 19, 2014

Lori Aratani writes in today's Post:
Here’s the latest update on the Silver Line.
To start: No we do not yet know when Silver Line passenger service will begin. And even though the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Board of Directors is slated to get an update on the project’s first phase at their monthly meeting this morning, we are still unlikely to have an answer.
What the board — and the public — will likely be told, is that the contractor on the $5.6 billion rail project — Dulles Transit Partners and MWAA officials are still working to determine what needs to be done in order for the project to be considered “substantially complete.”
For their part, DTP spokeswoman Michelle Michael said Tuesday that they had not yet received a definitive list of the issues MWAA would like them to address in order for the project to be considered complete.
Officials at MWAA said the two sides are trying to work out the outstanding issues.
“We are meeting daily, multiple times a day to get the right people together to get clarification of what needs to be resolved,” said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the rail project. “We are working as aggressively and as expeditiously as we can to get the project done as soon as possible.”
Neither side would offer a timeline for when the project might be complete. . . .
Click here for the rest of this article.

So, three billion dollars and four years after construction began, the people who built the Silver Line (Bechtel and its DTP co-conspirators) and the people who have mangled the management of that construction (MWAA) still don't agree on what's wrong with the Silver Line's construction, whose responsible, and when it will all be fixed.  Now attorneys--who know nothing about construction but a lot about the law--are playing the lead role.

Lawsuits as well as fines are in the wind. 

And who will likely end up paying for all this?  You guessed it:  Primarily the users of the Dulles Toll Road.  No matter that Bechtel may get fined for each day late it delivers the project beginning in two weeks.  No matter that DTP is supposed to cover any cost overruns.  Still, you know that DTP will just wait out MWAA and its "funding partners".  MWAA will take the fine money and use it somewhere else (unless Rep. Gerry Connolly follows up on our suggestion more than two weeks ago  that the fines be diverted to cover DTR user costs, but no response from him yet) and, since there is virtually no pain for MWAA in the "funding partners" absorbing the extra costs (less than 5% go to MWAA), they have little skin in the game and will willingly accept covering the cost overruns to get the project finished.

From Day One, we have questioned the non-competitive selection of Bechtel and its cronies--masters of the multi-billion dollar cost overrun in Boston's "Big Dig"--as the lead contractor for the Phase 1 Silver Line project.  Since they have nothing to lose after failing to win the lead on Phase 2 of the Silver Line construction effort, they will simply not complete the needed work barring an unexpected early and definitive court decision that they must. 

It is now possible to envision that we may not see the Silver Line completed and operational in 2014 as attorneys for both sides do what they do best, argue and run up billable hours. 

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