The Capitol's Accidental Monument
The latest word on the center, the largest expansion project in Capitol history, is that its original estimated cost of $265 million has more than doubled, to as much as $584 million — about $1,000 a square foot — with the anticipated opening, in 2007, more than two years late.
The spacious subterranean center is designed to better accommodate the camera-toting, fanny-packed taxpayers who want to see how Congress works. And appropriately, they'll begin by walking through the heart of owe-as-you-go government.
Project officials claim that the problem has been security costs, contractor fights and dwindling sandstone supplies, not blue-sky initial estimates. Congressional overseers, lately chagrined at the annual overages (generated in part by the lawmakers' decision to tack on $88 million for new offices and meeting halls for themselves) are sanctimoniously planning a detailed "lessons learned report." This is so elected successors down the decades may learn something about what not to do.
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