Major U.S. City's Infrastructure Bill Jumps $105M Over Budget

Construction jobs done for Baltimore's government ran over budget 375 times since 2012 — sometimes ballooning to two, three or even four times their original cost.

Tue July 19, 2016 - Northeast Edition
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Construction jobs done for Baltimore's government ran over budget 375 times since 2012 — sometimes ballooning to two, three or even four times their original cost.
Construction jobs done for Baltimore's government ran over budget 375 times since 2012 — sometimes ballooning to two, three or even four times their original cost.

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that private contractors fixing Baltimore's water mains, repaving roads and rehabbing buildings routinely go over budget — at a cost to taxpayers of more than $105 million over the past four years, a Baltimore Sun review has found.

Construction jobs done for Baltimore's government ran over budget 375 times since 2012 — sometimes ballooning to two, three or even four times their original cost.

"This is ridiculous," said City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, who sits on the Board of Estimates and has questioned the frequency of cost overruns in Baltimore. "These are some huge numbers. I don't believe we should have this many extra work orders."

Critics, including Pratt and City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, say they are concerned that contractors are bidding low to win work before running up the bill on the true costs of the project.

But city officials in Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration say the extra work orders are simply a cost of doing infrastructure work in an aging city where complications such as pipe breaks and sinkholes frequently occur in the middle of a job.

"We never know what we're going to run into when we start digging," said Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for the city's Transportation Department. "We make sure we keep an eye on a contractor's activities, but it's a very old city."

Cost overruns on government contracts are not unique to Baltimore. Boston's so-called "Big Dig" tunnel famously ran more than $12 billion over budget.

Source: The Baltimore Sun




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