Tuesday, August 27, 2019

ALDOT shreds remaining credibility, now says elevating the Bayway is... the least cost option?

ALDOT has been lying to us all along. There was never a federal requirement to elevate the Bayway to withstand the 100-year tropical storm surge with 100-year sea level rise.

ALDOT Director John Cooper told NBC 15 that federal law required elevation above the 100-year in July. He repeated the statement to Fox 10. The project manager for this boondoggle said it to WKRG.

(Extra Point: Go here to see how many different ways Cooper has tried selling this story.)

Governor Kay Ivey told every media outlet in the state that it was the truth.

ALDOT was asked repeatedly by members of the public, local elected officials and even your beloved blogger what specific federal law or regulation stated "thou shalt not build below the 100-year event." We never got a straight answer.

We now know that the requirement was a whole cloth fabrication.

Brazenly, the agency now says (PDF) that elevating the Bayway to their imaginary 100-year standard is the least cost option!

Making inaccurate statements because of a mistake or incomplete information is one thing. Making false statements knowing they are not true is lying.

How are we to believe that the cost estimates provided in the link above are accurate? They've been lying to us for months and now we can trust them?

How stupid do they think we are?

If you thought the peasants in the Block to Mobile Bayway Toll Facebook Group were revolting before this, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Even if we were to take the cost estimates at face value, the notion that they demonstrate replacement to be the least cost option is wrong because ALDOT still doesn't understand the time value of money concept.

Economics 201, y'all (click or tap the image for larger scale).

The table above comes from ALDOT's PDF, wherein the agency claim that the widened and retrofitted Bayway will have to be replaced 20 years after the upgrade because it will have reached the end of it's useful life.

The top two lines are for upgrading the structure. The bottom two are for replacement. There are calculations shown for building to the 50-year event and the 100-year event.

This new argument has more than one problem.
  1. The process of widening & retrofitting the Bayway will absolutely extend the structure's useful life, making the contention that it needs to be replaced in a mere 20 years highly questionable.
  2. Even so, a cost anticipated 20 years into the future must be discounted to present day dollars. At 2.5% interest and a 20-year term, the cost to replace the upgraded Bayway is $397 million, not $651 million as shown for the 50-year option. The 100-year option's discounted replacement cost is $543 million, not $890.
  3. If the useful life of the Bayway is extended to 40 years by the widening & retrofit work, then the discounted replacement cost is $242 million for the 50-year option. This makes the 50-year retrofit the least cost option at $770 million total.
  4. The difference in cost between Bayway widening & retrofitting today and replacing sometime in the future is... interesting. Why does it cost more to widen and retrofit today than it does to replace that same structure tomorrow? If a brand new widened & retrofitted 50-year Bayway costs only $651 million, we'll take one today in Coral Pink with the Key Lime highlights.
The most likely answer to No. 4 is that these numbers are completely bogus, just like everything else ALDOT has been telling us about this project. They're probably made up to fit the narrative they're selling today.

ed note: This post is subject to revision. Please let me know about any problems at BridgeReview@ibleedcrimsonred. com. I will try to be prompt. 

Plus, there are several other items of interest in ALDOT'S new story that need to be addressed, which will be covered in a future post. 


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