Sorry to repeat a trick, but here’s another quiz: Which part of this routine report from the New York Post is loaded with story potential?
The old South Ferry subway station will reopen for business in the first week of April, Gov. Cuomo announced today.
The 100-year-old loop station has been closed since 2009, when the MTA opened a $545 million replacement stop directly above it.
The MTA will use the old station while doing repairs on the new one, which was severely damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
The cost to fix the brand new station — which was heavily flooded — could be as high as $600 million.
It will take two years to complete the repairs, officials said.
Answer: “$600 million” to repair a train station? How can that be?
Other than this story on a terrific website I found called Second Avenue Sagas that covers the New York City subway system, the reports I’ve seen on local New York television stations and in the press parrot the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s estimated $600 million tab for repairing a train station as a given, the way they might report on the weather. (Well, actually, that’s not true; the weather is often breathlessly hyped.)
A quick Google search puts $600 million in perspective. Airbus, the giant jet manufacturer , is spending that much to build and equip a vast assembly line plant in Alabama to churn out hundreds of jets a year. GM is about to spend $600 million on a new 450,000 square-foot factory in Kansas. The Arizona Cardinals built their new football stadium in Phoenix for $456 million. Add 10 percent to the $600 million — I’ll bet there’s a cost overrun at the subway station of that much and more — and you could cover the entire budget for the San Francisco school system. All to repair a subway station.
Can’t someone do a dollar by dollar breakdown of that $600 million and follow all the money? Let’s see which contractors are making what kinds of profits. Which architects or designers are getting rich off of the Hurricane Sandy repair? What are the suppliers’ profit margins? Are union rules forcing wasteful staffing?
Why does the press take these expenses as a necessary fact of life? Following the money is always a good story.