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Why the World Trade Center Transit Hub Cost $4 Billion

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The World Trade Center Transportation Hub gets a lot of flack for its bloated $4 billion price tag, and for good reason. The hub is a reported eight years behind schedule and costing $2 billion over initial estimates. What oculus architect Santiago Calatrava has to show for his efforts is an abstract structural porcupine (sorry, "bird in flight") that is celebrated by a few but more notably bemoaned by many. Now, the Times has taken to exposing just where that extra $2 billion came into play in the project. Warning: mind-boggling complications ahead.

1) $655 Million+: Administrative costs, which the Times runs down as "construction management, supervision, inspection, monitoring and documentation, among other items."

2) $355 Million: Building around the 1 line. At the time of the hub's construction, governor George E. Pataki was considering a run for president, and considered the transportation hub and rebuilding of the World Trade Center site his opportunity to make an indelible and advancing mark. The Times' justification:

But the governor fully supported the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's desire to keep the newly rebuilt No. 1 subway line running through the trade center site, instead of allowing the Port Authority to temporarily close part of the line and shave months and hundreds of millions of dollars off the hub's construction. That, however, would have cut an important transit link and angered commuters from Staten Island, a Republican stronghold, who use the No. 1 line after getting off the ferry.Along with the MTA's, Pataki's vote to keep the 1 train, which directly bisected the hub, open as construction went along, cost millions and millions in extras.

3) $75 Million: Bloomberg. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanded that the adjacent memorial be finished come the 10th anniversary of September 11. This demand reprioritized the order in which elements of the hub were built, and ended up tacking on an extra cost of $75 million.

4) $500 Million: Stubborness. In 2008, Port Authority rejected $500 million worth of cost-saving measures. Stupid is as stupid does.

5) $474 Million: Calatrava's demand for column-free interiors/Steel. Calatrava's demand that the hub have no columns led to employing labor-intensive building methods and contracting abstract steel elements that had to be manufactured abroad. One-third of the steel was produced by a factory in northern Italy (and don't forget about shipping costs, too). The grand total for the project's 36,500-tons of steel was $474 million.

6) $485.8 Million: Subcontractors. In 2005 Port Authority brought on Phoenix Constructors, who was allowed to bring on subcontractors when they and Port Authority could not agree on a guaranteed maximum price, which drove the cost up by millions. This later became a "crucial failure" of the project, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

7) $400 Million: Using the project as an excuse to get other projects done. Because of the proximity of other work happening to the hub, costs often got reassigned. Work was done on abutting sites, shared corridors, mechanicals, electrical, and plumbing systems.

8) $3 Million: Bloomberg, again. Because Bloomberg insisted on having the memorial done, materials surpassing the deck had to be brought down to the hub mezzanine by way other than crane. Port Authority purchased 10 flatcars and used to PATH as a shuttle car for materials.

9) $24 Million: Faster timeframe. In 2010, Spanish steel company Urssa began to work 24/7 to speed up delivery of parts to the hub.

10) Unquantified: Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm caused "several hundred million dollars of damage" at the site in 2012.

11) Also unquantified: Various missteps and re-engineering. One word for this: clusterfuck.

· How Cost of Train Station at World Trade Center Swelled to $4 Billion [NYT]
· World Trade Center Transportation Hub is Basically a Big Mess [Curbed]
· All World Trade Center Transportation Hub coverage [Curbed]