Here we are in a financial crisis that is tearing apart our city services, and the city is still moving forward with plans to spend millions of dollars it doesn’t have on an expensive Port Tunnel it doesn’t need. This is exactly the same type of mismanagement of taxpayer dollars that produced the stadium deal, and that led to the current fiscal crisis. Rather than saving money, every last bit of capital the city has (and even some that it doesn’t have) are going to go into pushing the tunnel. Local cargo and transportation experts will tell you that the Port Tunnel is essential to competing with the Panama Canal expansion when it opens in 2014, but a recent MPO study championed by Commissioner Joe Martinez shows that the rail alternative would be just as good and could be coupled with a passenger rail line that would finally connect the airport to the – something that would make the port much more competitive than the Port Tunnel. Inside information at the port reveals that traffic is down (no kidding), but the city presses ahead – squeezing the police, firefighters, and every other union it can find for a few million dollars. I urge the commissioners to rethink this expenditure in light of our current fiscal problems, and the availability of better alternatives.
PS. Don’t let dollar amounts fool you. Original estimates for the port tunnel were in the range of $1.5 -$2 billion, but now officials estimate that the cost will be $600 million. Hmmm…so the expansion of a normal highway (like I-395) will cost $500 million, but a tunnel running under Government Cut will only cost slightly more. Really? Sounds like fuzzy accounting to make the tunnel seem like the cheaper alternative. Why not redo the rail estimates as well to see how much lower they come in. And while you are at it, include in the cost of the port tunnel the price of the I-395 super expansion ($600 million), because the only reason that is moving forward is to accommodate the increase in truck traffic from the tunnel.
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