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Fact Check: Is Sky Train Project Within Budget?

By Emily Gersema for The Arizona Republic

Fact Check is The Arizona Republic’s feature to review statements by officials and measure the factuality of the statements.

The comment

Phoenix Aviation Department spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez told reporters in a statement issued July 3: “The PHX Sky Train project is on time and within its approved budget.”

The forum

Rodriguez released the statement to the media in response to an Arizona Republic story in July about PHX Sky Train construction costs.

Analysis

The Phoenix City Council first approved construction and design of the automated, unmanned PHX Sky Train in 2007, with a budget of $1.2B and a plan to pay for the bulk of the project with the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s passenger fees – a $4.50 facility fee charged to every passenger who flies through Sky Harbor.

Projected costs for the train system have increased since then. By 2009, the council approved a new projected budget of $1.57 billion for the entire 4.9 mile project, which includes costs associated with the development of the new train cars. Aviation Department officials said $1.57B remains an accurate projection for PHX Sky Train’s total cost. Hensel Phelps is the construction manager for the project.

Stage 1

Early next year, construction crews will finish Stage 1, which connects passengers from a platform at 44th and Washington Streets to the East Economy Lot and to Terminal 4. Rodriguez said the cost of this first stage is $644M.

Stage 1a

This short extension connects the airport’s three terminals and is slated for opening in 2015. Rodriguez said the extension costs $244M. Aviation Department contracts show that while contractors on Stage 1 are involved, so are others such as Gannett Fleming and a joint venture McCarthy-Kiewit.

Stage 2

Rodriguez said the Aviation Department has not arranged funding yet for this remainder of the project, which will link passengers from Terminal 2 to the Sky Harbor Rental Car Center near 24th Street and Buckeye Road.

Rodriguez also said officials have no detailed project cost estimate or schedule for this final stage.

Bottom line:

Aviation Department officials currently are truthful in saying the project is “within budget” because the department, on stages 1 and 1a, so far has spent $888M – a little more than half of the entire project’s $1.57 billion cost projection.

However, the cost projections may change, as may the city’s approved spending for it.

Read more at AZCentral

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