Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When the study becomes the project

After nine years, New York State has completed a study of the possible alternatives for repair/upgrade/replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River.

This is just the completion of the study of the possible alternatives. It does not pick the preferred alternative or accomplish any of the actual design or construction needed to upgrade this aging bridge

This is apparently what our society now is satisfied with for performance.

Compare this to the seven years it took New York to design/permit and construct the New York Thruway.

Over even more striking is the performance of our military engineers in WWII where Tinian Island was developed with six 8,000 foot runways, housing for 50,000, a deep water harbor for supplies, two 1,000 bed hospitals and thirty miles of roads. All of this was done in seven months, with Japanese sniper fire as a job site safety issue.

Studies of several state DOTs indicate they spend an average of seven years to get a project to the start of construction from inception.

This is what apparently passes for progress today. Studies - not actual projects - are the main item we produce.

This is a mixed blessing for firms in our industry.

The increase in planning and studies is all work by done by our professional services, so we benefit from anything that increases studies and delays actual design and construction.

However, the public as a whole suffers by not having that new infrastructure, and when we finally get done studying it, inflation has made the cost far higher.

Clearly we as a society have decided we would rather think about infrastructure than build it. Taking years to study alternatives is not progress in improving the built environment.

Bill Fanning
Director of Research

No comments:

Follow @PSMJ_Resources