- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

The cost of the proposed New York Avenue subway station has ballooned to $84 million $9 million more than was estimated and the District of Columbia will have to find the additional money to build it, Metro documents show.

The original price tag was estimated at $75 million, with the federal government, the city and property owners around the proposed station each expected to pitch in $25 million. But documents show the cost has escalated even before station designs have begun.

Jack Donahue, director of Metro's major projects, said the city would have to find the additional funding.

"The $9 million in funds will have to be contributed by the District of Columbia," Mr. Donahue said.

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican and chairman of the Public Works Committee, said Metro should have been able to provide a better estimate so the city would not have to continue searching for more money.

"That's more than 10 percent," Mrs. Schwartz said of the $9 million increase. "I find the escalation way out of whack with inflation. They knew when they planned to build this, so they should have known what it would cost. This is a very great concern to me because we are having a hard enough time getting the $75 million, much less $84 million."

Mr. Donahue said the cost went up while they were doing the estimates for building the new station.

"[$75 million] was the original estimate when the original concept was considered," Mr. Donahue said. "The costs increased when we began estimating the project."

The cost increase is the result of higher land prices, which have gone up because the area is being redeveloped, Mr. Donahue said.

He said there are about 15 parcels of land that must be purchased for the station, which will be built between M Street and Florida Avenue. The city is pushing commercial redevelopment in the area.

"There is a fairly significant amount of real estate we will need in order to build a station," Mr. Donahue said.

D.C. officials had hoped that the city's share would come from a special appropriation from the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District, but the House last week only appropriated $7 million directly for the subway station and said the remaining $18 million would come from interest earned from the city's bank accounts.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting congressional representative, said the funding cuts from the House could delay construction and redevelopment of the area as well as put the city's budget out of balance. She said there is only $6 million in interest earned from D.C. bank accounts.

"The numbers just don't add up and, unless fixed, could mean trouble not only for the Metro [station], but for the District budget as well," said Mrs. Norton, a Democrat.

A Metro employee familiar with the project said he questions the high price tag since the station will be above ground on an existing subway line.

"This is not a very complex job. I think the costs are skyrocketing for no reason," the employee said.

The employee also said the proposed station does lacks public parking and has only limited space for buses.

The proposed station will be located on the Red Line about a block south of the intersection of Florida and New York avenues in Northeast and is Metro's first new station constructed on an existing line. The proposed station will be west of the existing subway tracks in the 200 block of M Street NE.

Metro hopes to open the station by 2004 and estimates that between 5,000 and 10,000 riders will use it daily.

Mr. Donahue said the station cannot be built in the same location as the existing tracks because it would disrupt service on the Red Line. He said the proposed station will be built adjacent to the Red Line tracks. When it is opened, the Red Line will be connected to the tracks running through the station, and the old right-of-way will be abandoned.

By contrast, the Metro employee noted that the seven-mile extension of the Blue Line from the Addison Road station to Largo will cost only five times the amount of the proposed New York Avenue station. The Largo extension is estimated to cost $433.9 million, will have two stations and will be mostly built underground.

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