Philadelphia Link, or Organization Before Concrete

Pedestrian Observations

Pedestrian Observations commenter Steve Stofka has a blog post treating Amtrak’s $117 billion high-speed rail proposal for the Northeast Corridor with all the criticism for extravagance it deserves. Focusing on his hometown of Philadelphia, he explains how Amtrak’s proposal for new urban tunnels under the city and a new stop at Market East is insane, and how using mostly existing rights-of-way and stopping at the existing 30th Street Station is a vastly cheaper alternative.

Criticizing Amtrak’s plan is like shooting fish in a barrel. The reason I’m linking to Steve’s post is that it underscores a general theme in transit cost overruns. He explains the reasoning behind Amtrak’s choice of new tunnels:

How expensive is freaking expensive? The kind of bore being proposed is the single most expensive type of tunnel possible: it runs through a soft geological environment with zero tolerance for surface subsidence. It would cost more…

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