- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2000

Virginia Rep. James P. Moran wants the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate why the Virginia Department of Transportation did not tell lawmakers and residents about cost increases for the Mixing Bowl interchange.
"There was a communication oversight," Mr. Moran said in a letter sent yesterday to Kenneth Mead, the inspector general at the federal agency. "I want the Virginia Department of Transportation to be transparent. I don't want this to be another Big Dig like in Boston, where the numbers have gotten out of control."
The Big Dig is a massive tunneling project under Boston that has consumed budgets.
Mr. Moran, 8th District Democrat, also said in his letter that VDOT had failed for two years to disclose that the Springfield project would cost $509 million, rather than the original estimate of $350 million, even when the General Assembly asked for the information.
Construction costs for the mammoth interchange where Interstate 95 meets the Beltway were 45 percent higher than originally estimated, according to figures VDOT released two weeks ago.
Joan Morris, a VDOT spokeswoman, said the $350 million figure was an estimate computed in 1994 when engineers had completed only 40 percent of the plan.
"Clearly, that is not the final figure," Ms. Morris said. "It is just like building a house. Your costs are going to increase as you get closer to completion."
When complete, the interchange will have 50 bridges, 24 lanes, 30 ramps and 41 miles of roadway.
Lawmakers have received annual revisions of VDOT's six-year transportation plan and increased figures were included each time, Ms. Morris said.
"It's unfortunate that we didn't do a better job of tallying the costs and communicating them to the public," she said yesterday. "There was nothing sinister here."
Delegate David G. Albo, Springfield Republican, said he wasn't pleased with the cost overruns, but wouldn't solely put all of the blame on VDOT's shoulders.
"Residents wanted bells and whistles, and bells and whistles cost money," he said. "Maybe they should go look into it, but I don't think they did anything wrong."
Among the extras requested by residents were sound baffles and $21 million for ramps that will connect Interstate 95 and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway.

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