in Houston, Texas
Taxpayers on the hook for $182 million to build a bridge in Dallas -- $65 million more than they thought
Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012, 01:35PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

If we were forced to strictly adhere to the old “man bites dog” newspaper adage, we couldn’t report somebody getting stuck for $182 million, $65 million more than they thought they were paying, to build a bridge in Dallas.

Dog bites man is when the cost of a government project far exceeds its original estimate. Tell me, when was the last time you saw a bureaucrat snapping off a mouthful of mongrel fur?

The recently completed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, has repeatedly been referred to by city officials and in newspaper accounts as a $117 million project, the Dallas Morning News reports today.

City officials now say what really cost so much wasn’t the bridge but the $100 million access ramps. Oh, and accessories, like the $47 million the Texas Department of Transportation paid for the land the bridge and its approaches are built on.

The estimate left out the $11.3 million for bridge and ramp design. If you are going to bring in a Calatrava, expect to pay him a $6.3 million fee. Inspecting the bridge alone cost $6.9 million

In its accounting of the bridge’s actual cost, the Morning News says private donors ponied up $16 million, $12 million of it from Hunt Petroleum.

The rest? federal taxpayers paid $75.5 million, state taxpayers paid $67.5 million toward it in gas taxes and local taxpayers signed off on $29.7 million from a 1998 bond issue.

The figures suggest the additional $65 million for the project was tacked onto the bill a long time ago. Government bites taxpayer. Sadly, that isn’t news.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of 'Brooklyn Bridge b1'  by flickr user zinetv, used via a Creative Commons license.

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