North Shore Disconnection OUT OF MONEY

You know that $500 million dollar hole in the ground downtown? While drilling under thew river is now done, the account funding this stupid idea seems to have a hole in it as well.

As it stands today, the North Shore Connector is vying for $117.8 million in stimulus funds to complete its plan to link the new Gateway Subway Station with two new stations on the North Shore in a 1.2 mile extension through two bored tunnels underneath the Allegheny River.

At $553 million, today’s plan is a scaled-back and substantially more costly version of the original, which for $393 million promised to extend the T another 0.3 miles from the Steel Plaza Station to the Convention Center.

Last month, the Port Authority publicized its options if additional funding is not available. To delay the project would cost $3.5 million per month. To shut down completely would run about $20 million to secure the work sites.

Port Authority advocates point to cost escalations in building the Rivers Casino, more than a third over the original budget set when it was called Majestic Star Casino, and the new Penguins arena, about 10 percent above its initial budget as of November.

That to me seems like this is all just a guess in the dark at best. If stimulus finds are tossed into the hole, will it even stimulate anything?

Aside from the money-already-spent angle, the Port Authority is emphasizing a major stimulus focus that the agency hopes will fetch it priority — if the tunnels sink, more than 2,000 jobs associated with the project would vanish as well.

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