Rising construction prices, design changes and a dearth of bidders have more than doubled the cost of a gigantic water filtration plant being built 10 stories beneath a Bronx golf driving range.
The plant deep below Van Cortlandt Park is now expected to cost nearly $3.1 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 2003. Early estimates from the 1990s put it at $660 million.
The skyrocketing price tag has been one of several areas of concern on the part of critics, who say the plant has been horribly mismanaged by the city.
Officials counter that the project, which federal officials ordered the city to build, is making good progress after a slow start.
The plant, due to be completed in 2012, is designed to filter up to a quarter of the city's water supply, or about 300 million gallons a day. The project will be New York City's first drinking water filtration facility and is believed to be the first subterranean water plant in the nation.
Opponents say city Independent Budget Office findings show the city Department of Environmental Protection has dramatically underestimated the project's cost.
"We all felt that building such a large facility in a hole would be more costly," said Anne Marie Garti, a community leader and longtime critic of the project.
The budget agency's tally also includes more than $100 million for repairing a 110-year-old aqueduct - which the DEP considers a separate project - and $106 million in security features, a chemical storage facility and a clubhouse and other work to enhance the golf course above the plant. That's on top of more than $200 million in Bronx parks upgrades to compensate for disrupting the driving range.