Big projects, bigger and bigger costs

May 14

Arlington County officials hoping to spur economic development by launching two new streetcar lines couldn’t have been too happy on Tuesday to hear that the cost of each project has increased substantially since it was first proposed. But the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects are fairly typical in that regard — it’s not unusual for major infrastructure projects to grow in both cost and scope during the early planning stages, when projects’ engineering details, property acquisition costs and eligibility for federal funding are unknown. Below is a list of projects in the Washington area gained attention for coming in late, or costing more than expected, or both. Suggestions for other projects to highlight are welcome; please leave a comment below.

Metrorail’s Silver Line


A train approaches the Wiehle-Reston East Station during a tour on Nov. 4, 2013, in Fairfax County. Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)

Original cost estimate: $5.1 billion
Latest cost estimate: $5.6 billion
Original opening date (first phase): December 2013
Estimated opening date ( first phase): summer 2014

Woodrow Wilson bridge project


The Wilson Bridge. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Original cost estimate:
Final cost: $2.5 billion

Purple Line (light-rail linking Bethesda and New Carrollton)

The Spring Center strip mall sits on 16th Street north of East-West Highway, near where the Purple Line would be built. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
The Spring Center strip mall sits on 16th Street north of East-West Highway, near where the Purple Line would be built. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Original cost estimate: $1.2 billion (14-mile line)
Latest cost estimate: $2.37 billion (16-mile line)
Original opening date: 2012
Estimated opening date: 2020

Capitol Visitors Center


The Capitol Dome is seen through the glass of the Capitol Visitors Center on Capitol Hill. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Original cost estimate: $265 million
Latest cost estimate: $621 million
Original opening date: 2005
Actual opening date: 2008

Nationals Park


Nationals Park. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Original cost estimate: $611 million
Final cost: $796 million
Original opening date: March 2008
Actual opening date: March 2008

Silver Spring Transit Center


The Silver Spring Transit Center. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Original cost estimate: $92 million
Current cost estimate: $120 million
Original opening date: 2011
Current projected opening date: not before 2015

Columbia Pike streetcar


A developer’s rendering of how streetcars could look on Columbia Pike, at the intersection of Walter Reed Drive near the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. (Courtesy Newlands & Company Inc.)

Original cost estimate: $250 million
Current cost estimate: $358 million
Original opening date: 2016
Latest projected opening date: 2021

 

Crystal City streetcar 


A rendering of a building planned at 1900 Crystal Drive in Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood. (Courtesy of Vornado)

Original cost estimate: $146 million
Current cost estimate: $227 million
Original projected opening date: n/a
Latest projected opening date: 2020

 

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