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OIT Examines Projections About New Crosstown

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The eastbound lanes of the new Crosstown opened Thursday.  How did ODOT do on it's construction costs and time estimates? The eastbound lanes of the new Crosstown opened Thursday. How did ODOT do on it's construction costs and time estimates?

Today's ribbon-cutting brought back memories of the November 2005 groundbreaking when ODOT was less certain about the project's vital statistics.

At that time, the cost of the project was being estimated at $360 million.  Current estimates put it at $680 million.  And in November of 2005, it was stated the project could be built in three to three-and-a-half years by mid-2009.  The reality, of course, is that it took more than six.

ODOT spokeswoman Terri Angier says the statement on the project's timetable was not realistic, and they knew it.. but once it was out there, they couldn't take it back.

"We answered a hypothetical question that we shouldn't have, probably," she says.  "It was purely in response to, if we had every penny--which we didn't--in the bank at the time, and there were no obstacles, which there were."

For the state's largest-ever public works project, there have been plenty of obstacles:  right of way issues, utilities, railroad, environmental, and funding--securing the necessary state and federal dollars.  At the same time, the project's cost was rising.

Documents provided by ODOT show gas prices rose more than 20 percent in project's first year of construction, while the price of concrete shot up almost 50 percent over the same period.

"We totally react to the prices that are out there in the market.  We don't get a special deal because we're the state.  That is the prices we get as well," Angier says.

Thursday's show of pride suggests it was worth the price, to get the new eastbound lanes open.

The westbound lanes will open in a bout four to six weeks, but it will still be two-and-a-half years before the boulevard replacing the old Crosstown is complete and the entire project is done meaning that $680 million price tag is still just a moving target.

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