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Be responsible: Kill the connector

| Thursday, July 13, 2006

The public today will learn of what the board of directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County is made -- the usual bumbling bureaucratic spendthrifts that we've come to expect or true public servants who no longer in good conscience can foist mass-transit farces on taxpayers.

The board is scheduled to vote (at 10 a.m.) on whether to approve the $435 million North Shore Connector. It would link the Downtown subway with the city's North Side via a tunnel bored underneath the Allegheny River.

It is believed to be, per mile, the most expensive mass-transit rail project in the history of the United States. And it is the definition of a boondoggle.

The "benefits" of the project continually have been exaggerated. Projected ridership numbers, pulled from thin air, repeatedly have been nursed. Costs consistently have been underestimated. And an agency that can't afford to operate what it has wants to add to its stable?

One of the last-ditch "rationales" supporters cite for approving the connector is that $40 million already has been spent; the feds might want their money back. But that's indicative of a failed process; it's certainly a lousy excuse for molesting the public out of half-a-billion dollars.

The North Shore Connector deserves to be killed. Should the Port Authority fail its public obligation, it deserves the public's wrath.

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