East End Mall Project Over Budget

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

March 22, 2006

The price tag for Charlottesville's Transit Center is going up, but city officials are on the defensive tonight, saying it is nowhere near as high as published reports indicate. The construction on Charlottesville’s east end of the mall is $4 million higher than originally expected.

According to the city, building the new transit center along with under-ground utility work, extending the mall and rebuilding 7th Street will now cost $10.5 million and not $6.5 million as originally planned.

They say the increasing costs of construction and some unexpected problems caused the jump in price. The city says construction costs have gone up 13% per year on average since the project went out for bid in 2001.

"Unfortunately there are certain members of council that [have said that]," explained Council member Blake Caravati. "That's why you see headlines the way you see them--'Transit Center in Trouble.' Well, it's not in trouble. In fact, I think we're going to come in under budget."

Caravati said that right now the project is $400,000 over budget, not $4.5 million as reported. City councilors voted to allocate another $400,000 for the Transit center construction on Monday. Caravati said a federal grant has been allocated to cover those costs, something he said one city councilor tried to prevent.

“Some on council use this [to say] it's a cost overrun when in reality it isn't,” said Caravati.

Higher construction costs and unexpected problems have jacked up the price, but the City invested just $130,000 of its own money while the government is footing the rest of the bill.

The construction of the new transportation hub is on target said construction manager Tim Meek.

“We are doing really well. This has been an incredibly favorable year, or winter, for construction,” said Meek.

By the end of this week crews will have finished digging an under ground heating system that stores summer heat to offset winter costs.

“It’s like a saving a lot of money kind of thing,” said Meek.

By mid-November the project should be complete.

City Councilors Rob Schilling and Kevin Lynch both told us they are concerned about the rising costs of the project. Schilling even said that he thinks when all the figures are out, the price tag for this facility is going to be upwards of $10 million.

Good news for Charlottesville Pavilion concert goers: by mid-July the restrooms in the Transit Center should be complete, which means no more Port-A-Potties.

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