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(rshsdepot) Union Station - Denver, CO

On the wrong track


The Denver Post
February 20, 2003

The Union Station development project is fresh proof, if any is  needed,
that timing is important.
The project, which anticipates that Denver's historic Union Station  will
become a multimodal transit hub and a key factor in the future  development
of the Platte Valley, is experiencing cost overruns.
That might not be a big deal in boom times when the participating  city and
state agencies are flush with cash. But it is a problem  now, at a time when
the state's faltering economy has sent state  and local revenues into a nose
The contract to draw up a master redevelopment plan was originally  pegged
at just under $ 4 million, but now the group of consultants  says it will
cost $ 5.56 million.
This concerns us for a couple of reasons.
The first is that the project involves a lot of different interests  - and
history teaches that when everyone is responsible, no one is  really
The second is that $ 5.56 million is a lot to spend on a plan or a  concept,
especially when future construction funds may or may not  be available.
RTD's share of this construction project, we note, will depend upon  voter
approval of an almost $ 5 billion transit proposal.
This region has plenty of past experience with elaborate plans that  had to
be later revised because unexpected events intervened. RTD  insists it knew
the increased costs were coming and claims that the  other affected state
agencies did so as well.
Maybe so, but a cost increase of nearly 40 percent in the early  stages of a
development project is, at the minimum, a warning sign  of potential
problems to come.
For our part, we'd feel a lot better if we knew the various  agencies
affected had a clear financial-management plan in place to  ensure that
taxpayers wouldn't have any more nasty surprises in the  months ahead. On
the record so far, such controls are clearly  lacking.

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org