Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Spending on D.C. Train Station Renovation Is Off the Rails

Perhaps journalist and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke was on to something when he said, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

A $10 billion project to renovate Washington, D.C.’s Union Station is not just overpriced to begin with. The administration that has pushed the project itself has bogged it down in red tape, delaying the project and adding to its cost.


The “transformation of the nation’s second-busiest intercity rail hub” is estimated to be completed by 2040, The Washington Post reported.

The Federal Railroad Administration plans to re-do the train station to become a “spacious, light-filled atrium with large skylights and soaring ceilings,” The Post said. “The station’s iconic main hall — with its 96-foot-tall ceilings lined with 23-carat gold — will be preserved.”

But wider rail platforms will be added, as will a new bus terminal, and “updated concourses lined with shops and restaurants and with better access to Metrorail, buses, taxis, ride-hailing services, streetcars and parking,” The Post reported.

While President Joe Biden has heralded this and other rail projects as necessary infrastructure, its pace is snail-like.

“Although plans call for station upgrades to be finished in about 18 years, much of the timetable is unclear,” The Post reported. “The federal environmental review of the project, which began in 2015, is at least three years behind schedule.”

“For all their presumed enthusiasm about infrastructure, especially green infrastructure, the liberal establishment and associated officialdom seem to be in thrall to NIMBYs and Naderites,” James Pinkerton wrote in a piece for RealClearMarkets.

Red tape, including lengthy and costly environmental impact statements, bog down projects. Expediting them, as then-President Donald Trump did for high-priority infrastructure projects, helped. But the Biden administration rolled it back, continuing to slow down projects.

With a federal environmental review of the Union Station project already seven years underway and still three years behind schedule, the Biden administration can only blame itself for stalled infrastructure projects.

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This article was originally published by RealClearPolicy and made available via RealClearWire.