Friday, August 24, 2007

Under the river and through the woods to the casino we go

A lot of people have been asking me about the proposed tunnel under the Allegheny. My question is this: Why would the city of bridges need an underground tunnel to connect downtown to the north side? Is this the great solution to our traffic problem that vexes so many drivers? Hardly. The tunnel, let us be serious about it, has more to do with funneling people into a casino than trying to relax traffic concerns.

Does the city of Pittsburgh, you know the place, the city that has been run into bankruptcy, really need a tunnel that will will cost the taxpayers at LEAST $14.5 million dollars from our county taxes? Of course we don't. And that number is based on the the price not going up. In July the cost of the project went from $393 million dollars to $435 million dollars (mind you the initial pitch was for $130 million). We have bridges that are in need of dire repair, lest Pittsburgh becomes a news story like Minneapolis, as our politicians look puzzled as to why our bridges have crumbled while they looked to dig under the city for a tunnel.

My father used to tell me that you can't build a tall building without a strong foundation. It is therefore ironic that the strong foundation for rebuilding the city and setting Port Authority right is NOT found by digging in the ground. Unnecessary tunnels are an additional burden to an all ready strained tax base and it is about time some sanity was brought in to quell the madness.

As mayor, I can assure you all that I can take $435 million dollars and use it infinitely better than building a single tunnel. Once again, port authority has mismanaged resources and have gotten us into a bind. This is the catch 22 that Port Authority has gotten us into; The county or Port Authority will have to pay back the federal government the money they have put up thus far. THAT is the sticking point? To admit they were wrong and pay a penalty? Of course County Council and Port Authority chose not to do what is best for the city but rather bull headedly continued forward with this nigh half BILLION dollar hole in the ground.

As we are all aware, government projects seemingly never come in under budget or even at budget, so the status quo will dictate that a half billion dollar price tag is only the low ball estimate. If I knew that digging holes in the ground was so lucrative I would have done better at it when I was four years old.