You may have heard that the construction of the Central Corridor project has already begun. According to the Central Corridor Project Office (CCPO), the sewer work in downtown St. Paul and the road construction around the U are “advanced” project “improvements.”
Just as BP drilled a test well in the Gulf of Mexico in advance of figuring out how to prevent or deal with the current, on-going spill disaster, the so-called “advanced” work on the Central Corridor project is in advance of completing necessary environmental studies. They still haven’t figured out how to deal with the rush hour mess when trains passing every 7 ½ minutes in each direction would back up north-south traffic at Snelling and other major intersections for blocks if not miles. They still haven’t said how they’re going to avoid disrupting MPR’s studio operations without risking the lives of people trying to cross the street – no one at MPR or the CCPO has been willing to say how they plan to restrict the use of the train horns on Cedar Street in downtown St. Paul. And if you believe that the $25M or $30M or $50M or whatever the current estimate is for reinforcement of the 1960’s vintage, fracture-critical, Washington Avenue Bridge will provide a sound structure for carrying trains, buses, and University and emergency vehicles for the next 100 years, your faith in the consultants is much greater than mine.
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According to a $51,300,000 contract with a California-based conglomerate called AECOM (I’d like to know what Central Corridor communities got that $51M), in order to arrive at a 2014 completion date, the FTA would need to approve the start of the Final Design phase of the project no later than “early 2009.” On May 25, 2010, well over a year after the “important short-term milestone date” passed, the FTA granted the approval. If early 2009 was a critical date in the project timeline, and if that date was pushed back to May 25, 2010, how can the project be on schedule?
In the old Popeye cartoon, a character named Wimpy was continually saying: “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” The “advanced” sewer and road construction work on the Central Corridor project is hard hat hamburger waiting for the proverbial Tuesday payment.