Nothing portrays government inefficiency more than the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority taking almost half a decade to build two bike racks.
Government bureaucracy and inefficiency can be a tad extreme in the United States. Because of the number of agencies and processes we've put into place, it can be complicated to track even the easiest of processes. Perhaps no incident portrays this better than the two bike racks that were sanctioned to be built in December 2015. Just over four years later, they are still under construction. The Washington, D.C. transit authority is evidently running behind schedule on the $3.8 million project, to have been built at rail stations in suburban Virginia. The budget was initially $600,000 per rack, but the transit authority has clearly been slacking on several levels, WJLA reports.
The taxpayers in Arlington, VA (just outside Wash.DC) should be livid.— Kari Lake (@KariLakeFox10) February 13, 2020
Nearly $4 million and 5 years to build 2 bike racks.
They are still UNFINISHED. https://t.co/4F8zRE8R2w
The bike racks were supposed to house 92 bikes each and would have been sheltered by protective canopies. They were to be built at the East Falls Church and Vienna Metro stations. While the initial cost was estimated to tap out at $120,000, the project may amount to a whopping $4 million by the time it is completed (as per calculations completed by WJLA). According to Metro, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the scheduling delay and surge in cost have been caused by issues in construction. The authority stated, "Numerous construction quality issues, including damage caused by a contractor repeatedly drilling into an underground duct bank, led to lengthy delays."
Metro has undergone several changes in contractors over the past four years. The agency cut ties with the initial contractor assigned to the project when the project first began. A second contractor did not meet Metro's quality control standards. They affirmed in a statement, "Quality control issues with contractors can take time to sort out, but Metro determined it was more important to get the project done right rather than get it done quickly." If getting a project "done right" means wasting several thousand dollars in taxpayer money, then perhaps the transit agency has to reconsider its strategy.
In January 2020, signs posted at the currently fenced-off construction site still informed citizens that the project would be completed in 2018. However, after a news outlet aired its expose on the project, the signs were taken down. As per riders who use the metro stations on a regular basis, they have not seen construction workers at the project site in several months. Commuters have weighed in on the situation. One man shared, "To take a while to do something this simple, it’s kind of ridiculous. They used to have a sign up that said when it was getting finished. That date kept moving back, and moving back, and moving back. Yeah, I wonder if it’s ever going to happen." While one of the wealthiest governments in the world continues to delay simple projects, China was able to build an entire hospital in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This is something WJLA reporter Sam Sweeney rightly pointed out. He stated, "It’s hard to wrap your head around this. China can build a hospital in 10 days and Metro can’t build a bike rack in five years."
Attention transit geeks, The Washington Post has an immediate opening for a reporter to cover transit and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. This is an important and high-profile beat. If you're interested, let me know and I can give you details. #WMATA— Victoria Benning (@VLBenning) October 22, 2018