Road funding is an expensive shell game

Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I find it quite interesting that the state Department of Transportation commissioner has recommended dumping the Gravina bridge, in part claiming that the costs of construction have risen 20 percent per year in the last several years. Nevertheless, the road north from Juneau, estimated at about $260 million 25 years ago, still comes in at under $300 million (former governor Frank Murkowski's numbers). Why is that? Why have the costs of one large project risen so drastically while the costs of the other have barely risen at all?

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Applying the same 20 percent cost annual cost increase to the road project from the early 1980s figure would result in an overall cost well exceeding $30 billion! At a modest 5 percent increase in annual construction costs, the road would still cost more than $900 million - well beyond the cost proposal we have been given. Sounds like the old administrative shell game to me.

So, when folks are comparing highway costs to ferry costs, please use more accurate figures.

Steve Wolf


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