The Washington, D.C. transit authority is four years behind schedule on a $3.8-million project to two bicycle racks at rail stations in suburban Virginia.
Local ABC affiliate WJLA reported last Wednesday that the racks are being built at the East Falls Church and Vienna Metro stations. They are designed to hold 92 bikes each and to sit under protective canopies.
Construction was supposed to last about a year and to be completed in December 2015. The budget was $600,000 per rack.
However, the racks have so far cost $1.9 million each, and neither of them is finished. WJLA estimated the final cost would be over $4 million.
Reporting live from the East Falls Church station in Arlington, Virginia, WJLA reporter Sam Sweeney said: “It’s hard to wrap your head around this. China can build a hospital in 10 days and Metro can’t build a bike rack in five years.”
The WJLA broadcast showed only a canopy and a railing in place behind chain link fencing.
China earlier this month completed the second of two new hospitals in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, in just over a week.
Will the D.C. bike racks remain unfinished forever?
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, blamed the delays and cost increases in building the bike racks on the contractors it hired.
“Numerous construction quality issues, including damage caused by a contractor repeatedly drilling into an underground duct bank, led to lengthy delays,” WMATA told WJLA.
WMATA said it got rid of its first contractor four years ago and the replacement company has failed to meet quality standards.
“Quality control issues with contractors can take time to sort out, but Metro determined it was more important to get the project done right rather than get it done quickly,” WMATA said.
WJLA first reported on the project in January. In that report, the station broadcast footage of a sign at the East Falls Church station that said the rack would be completed in “late 2018.”
Commuters at the Metro station said they had not seen anyone working in the area of the rack for anywhere from two to six months.
“To take a while to do something this simple, it’s kind of ridiculous,” one man said. “They used to have a sign up that said when it was getting finished. That date kept moving back, and moving back, and moving back. Yeah, I wonder if it’s ever going to happen.”
When WJLA returned last week, the sign was gone, but no further work was visible.WMATA said it hopes the bike racks will be available for public use in the next few months.