The Star tackled light rail consultant fees this week, noting that $17 million has been spent over the last 15 or so years on various failed light rail plans. Most of that money came from the federal government — and usually from our earmark-loving congressional delegation — but the “faux outrage” in the article’s comments section mostly ignores reality and perspective.
For example, the new garage built for JE Dunn’s downtown headquarters rang in at about $18 million in TIF (and you’ll be charged to use it). That’s just one of a string of publicly-subsidized garages built for companies who could otherwise rely on transit to deliver workers to their door.
No major construction project gets built without consultant involvement, and thus, their fees. That includes roads, airports, or any other public structure. Most public works departments and transit agencies simply don’t have the manpower or fine-tuned expertise to handle them, whether it’s design and engineering or public engagement.
While it’s informative to know what’s been spent thus far, it’s more crucial to have repeated confirmation of where rail transit investment will work: the I-35, I-70, and central business corridors. Years of study make the next consultant’s job easier, and, theoretically, cheaper than starting from scratch.
So yes, we are a “permanent klatch”. We sit around, sip lattes, and wish Kansas City’s transit future were brighter than it appears today (which is pretty grim).1 comment