Why is Baltimore's Infrastructure Repair $105M Over Budget?

July 19, 2016

Construction jobs done for Baltimore's government ran over budget 375 times since 2012 — sometimes ballooning to two, three or even four times their original cost.

"This is ridiculous," said City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, who sits on the Board of Estimates and has questioned the frequency of cost overruns in Baltimore. "These are some huge numbers. I don't believe we should have this many extra work orders."

The Baltimore Sun's Luke Broadwater writes that private contractors working on the city's water mains, roads and building have gone $105 million over budget in the past four years.

Some Baltimore officials say contractors are submitting low bids to get the project, then run up the actual costs with change orders. One source is quoted saying, "Change orders are the lifeblood of a commercial construction contractor."

Others, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, say extra change orders are simply a cost of doing infrastructure work in an aging city where complications such as pipe breaks and sinkholes frequently occur in the middle of a job.

When older cities like Baltimore are cash-strapped, cost overruns draw scrutiny. What is causing the million dollar up charges? Before you answer read the Sun's story here.