Can you imagine how many private contractors would go out of business if they couldn’t estimate construction costs properly and had overruns of over 50 percent on originally estimated costs? Course they have to make a profit – government bureaucrats don’t have to worry about details like that.
The Port of Seattle operates Sea-Tac International Airport. They are building a new International Arrivals Facility as the current one is 44 years old and needs updating. From the Port’s press release in August 2017:
“National and local leaders came to the Port of Seattle today to celebrate the official groundbreaking for a new International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The new facility will dramatically improve the experience for international travelers and better meet the region’s demand for business and tourism-related international service.
Scheduled to open in late 2019, the new 450,000-square-foot, multi-level facility will be built to the east of the current Concourse A.
The current 44-year-old facility no longer meets demand. Originally designed to serve just 1,200 passengers per hour, it now serves an average of over 2,000 passengers per hour during peak periods. The new IAF will increase passenger capacity to 2,600 passengers per hour, while improving the customer experience by nearly doubling the number of gates capable of serving international wide-body aircraft and more than doubling the Passport Check positions and kiosks.
The current budget for the IAF is $766 million. Funding for the project will come from a combination of airport generated revenues, passenger facility charges (PFCs) and revenue bonds. As with virtually all airport projects, no Port of Seattle levy taxes will be used to fund the project.”
The Port issued a press release on Sept. 11 indicating the new project cost and schedule:
“An independent review panel convened by the Port of Seattle Commission identified the scope and complexity of the program and the “supercharged” local construction market as the primary reasons for higher budget estimates for the new IAF at Sea-Tac.
The Executive Review Panel (ERP) provide their report to commissioners today, finding that the negotiated Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of $773 million for construction and May 31, 2020, completed construction schedule are both “reasonable and achievable.” The IAF will open to passengers in August 2020, following extensive systems and user testing by the Port, airlines, and federal agencies.
The final cost to the Port, including $76 million in sales tax and additional Port costs, will be $968 million.
The Commission-directed review found the program’s final budget estimate of $773.9 million in construction elements and total program cost of $968.4 million is reasonable for the scope of the projects in this over-heated construction market. The panel also found the schedule to be achievable if the parties approach the work with a sense of urgency. The panel cited the following components for the cost increase and schedule changes: increased scope, tight construction market, complexity of program, and need for improved Port/Contractor relationship and clearer decision structures.”
The Seattle Times notes that the original budget for this project was $608 million. And now it’s at $968 million and scheduled to open eight months later.
One of the review panel members is quoted as saying, “There are reasons to have confidence and that these projections are good projections.”
The article also notes how the leadership of each side of the project have been changed to allow a “fresh start.”
I have confidence that the project costs will go even higher. That’s how big government works.