Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Federal Earmarks Include Promontory Point

posted by Elizabeth Fama

There was an interesting nugget you might have missed in the Tribune last week -- a piece of news that's pertinent to Hyde Park. It was about the earmarks slated for Illinois in the $410 billion Federal spending package approved on Monday, March 16, by the Senate. (There's a detailed breakdown of all the Illinois pork here.)

Apparently, four million dollars will go to the City of Chicago's Shoreline Project "for reconstruction consistent with a Project Cooperation Agreement" (which probably refers to the Memorandum of Agreement between the City, Park District, and Army Corps of Engineers).

The interesting take for me on this bit of news is: what the heck will $4 million cover? It'll fund maybe one study and one community meeting, that's what. Do you think that's what they intended the money for? Is it going to cover Horace Foxall's third-party review?

The erosion of soil under a section of revetment (seen at the top of this post) likely weakened the root structure of this tree at Promontory Point.

To get a better perspective on how insignificant four million dollars is, consider this: the Shoreline Project covers eight miles. Of these eight, 5.8 miles are completed. So far the total bill has been $354 million. Of that total, $192 million were Federal dollars.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the construction costs are the same (meaning no fancy limestone or nothin') to fix the remaining shoreline, the Feds would have to kick in $72.8 million, and the City would have to contribute $61.5 million. With numbers like those, four million is a rounding error.

(I just threw this one in to remind you how sweet it is that it's spring.)


Richard Gill said...

Most of the money in all categories is, figuratively speaking, dribs and drabs. A rough rule-of-thumb for major civil engineering projects is that design cost will be around seven percent of construction cost. So, if there's about $133 million in remaining construction (72M+ federal, 61M+ city) the $4 million might only cover preliminary engineering which brings plans to the 30 percent level. Pretty meager money.

Far too many projects get designed but not built because the major money doesn't materialize. In recent years, the cost of construction materials has increased sharply. If those cost estimates are more than a few years old, they should be recalculated.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Peter Rossi knows the numbers and dates better than I, but I think the cost estimate for the Compromise Plan (Promontory Point only) was $24 million in 2003.

edj said...

A quick rule of thumb I've heard is that construction costs would be about 20 percent higher than in 2003.

So much for funding shovel ready projects.

Richard Gill said...

"It'll fund maybe one study and one community meeting."

Oh, PLEASE, not another study. If another community meeting is required, let me know when it's over. Let's say the meeting costs $50,000 for labor, graphics, security, setup, earplugs, and exhaust fans to vent the hot air. Then use the remaining $3,950,000 as a (nonrefundable) down payment on concrete for the Compromise Plan.

David Farley said...

Interesting reference to Promontory Point in Slate today...

chicago pop said...

That is one of the most random references to the Point, or to anything having to do with Hyde Park, that I have ever seen. The author must be an alumnus. Still more amazing -- then again, maybe not -- is that he gets it wrong. There is no new concrete revetment around the Point, and whatever is in Lagos probably doesn't look like the renderings in the Compromise Plan. Funny how far misinformation can travel. Across oceans, evidently.

Elizabeth Fama said...

A completely obscure reference.