Oops: SeaTac Airport’s Flawed New International Terminal

Oops: SeaTac Airport’s Flawed New International Terminal

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The Seattle Times has the story of a pretty major screwup at SeaTac Airport. This is leading to a bitter dispute between the airport and the construction company responsible for the project.

SeaTac Airport’s new international terminal has limited capacity

SeaTac Airport has seen a huge increase in international flights in recent years, reflecting the growth we’ve seen in Seattle in general. In 2022, the airport opened a new billion dollar international arrivals facility, intended to increase the airport’s capacity for international flights. The facility is 450,000 square feet, and is an addition to Concourse A in the terminal, connected to the South Satellite terminal by a walkway.

Like so many airport projects, this one was way over budget. The initial 2014 budget was $344 million, though over time the cost increased to $968 million. Unfortunately it’s now proving even more costly.

The terminal has 20 gates, and the intent was that all of those gates could be used by wide body jets at the same time. However, after construction was complete, it was determined that a design flaw means that only 16 wide body jets can use the terminal at a time, leading to a potential 20% shortfall in capacity.

Each gate is designed to accommodate certain wide body aircraft, with some gates being able to accommodate A330s and 787s, and other gates being able to accommodate 777s (which are larger). The gates need to be large enough not just to accommodate the planes, but also for the equipment needed to service aircraft, like fuel trucks, baggage trucks, and more.

Unfortunately after aircraft “fit checks” were performed, it was determined that four of the gates (A6, A8, S4, and S6) couldn’t accommodate the jets that they were supposed to. For example, gate A6 is supposed to accommodate a 777, but this is only possible by swinging the jet in an arc, and parking slantwise to the building, rather than pulling straight into the gate. However, that would mean that the adjacent gate A5 couldn’t be in use while this maneuver was being performed.

The Port of Seattle argues that if this isn’t resolved, it could cost the airport tens or hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the project, and that this will leave the airport with an international flight capacity problem that this project was originally intended to solve.

An escalating legal dispute between the parties

For well over a year now, the Port of Seattle and Clark Construction (which was responsible for the project) have been in a legal dispute. The Port of Seattle argues that it will cost around $78 million to fix the issues with these four gates.

In December 2022, Clark Construction sued the Port of Seattle for $60 million, alleging it wasn’t paid for extra work done due to design changes, as well as extra costs from the pandemic.

In January 2023, the Port of Seattle countersued for $100 million, including the bill for the gate reconfiguration work that needs to be done.

The question comes down to which party is responsible for this design flaw. Clark Construction argues that “the current gate configuration is consistent with the Port-approved concourse study and meets the specifications and requirements per our contract.” The company argues that the contract documents defining the work “specifically state that Clark was to design the Project to accommodate narrowbody aircraft at Gates A6 and A8, not widebody aircraft.”

The Port of Seattle argues that “Clark has refused to engage with the Port to identify solutions.”

A King County Superior Court trial is now planned for December 2023. There are tens of millions of dollars at stake here, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Bottom line

Airport construction is complicated, and it seems like we see major issues with new terminals more often than not. SeaTac Airport’s new international arrivals facility is supposed to accommodate 20 wide body jets, but can only fit 16 at a time, due to the layout. This is now leading to lawsuits between the Port of Seattle and the construction company responsible for the project.

It’s hard to know what exactly to make of this. I mean, you’d think that collectively, all parties would make sure there’s enough space at gates with the design before spending a billion dollars constructing something. That doesn’t seem like it should be rocket science.

The construction company claims that the gate configuration is consistent with the requirements per the contract, and that two of the gates weren’t even meant to be for wide body aircraft. If that’s true, then I’m not sure how the Port of Seattle could argue it’s the construction company’s fault at this point. But that’s also only one side of the story.

What do you make of this SeaTac Airport dispute?

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  1. Anonymous Guest

    The new terminal is absolute a disaster. Once a passenger gets off the airplane they have to walk over a quarter of a mile or more to access a bathroom. Then another half or so mile to get luggage then another half mile to access customs. An absolute failure on the part of POS oversite and the idiots who designed this ridiculously overpriced project. Heads should roll but unfortunately its the WS taxpayer who will...

    The new terminal is absolute a disaster. Once a passenger gets off the airplane they have to walk over a quarter of a mile or more to access a bathroom. Then another half or so mile to get luggage then another half mile to access customs. An absolute failure on the part of POS oversite and the idiots who designed this ridiculously overpriced project. Heads should roll but unfortunately its the WS taxpayer who will ultimately suffer. Another example of idiots who waste taxpayer money.....

  2. Anonymous Guest

    I simply cannot believe that this happened. I don't understand why this mistake could even have occurred. Just why. Also, I firmly believe that the construction company is at least 95% at fault.

  3. M. woodfield Guest

    arrived from AMS at SeaTac two days ago and couldn't believe the insanity of the amount of walking to be done to get to immigration, never mind how overly warm it was when being on that HUGE escalator that takes forever to get you to the top. Is there a lift? didn't see one. Once summer has arrived I can only wonder how the air conditioning will work. Saw no bathrooms. In quite a few...

    arrived from AMS at SeaTac two days ago and couldn't believe the insanity of the amount of walking to be done to get to immigration, never mind how overly warm it was when being on that HUGE escalator that takes forever to get you to the top. Is there a lift? didn't see one. Once summer has arrived I can only wonder how the air conditioning will work. Saw no bathrooms. In quite a few places there were carpets (not great for your roll-luggage) instead of tiles which would also be much more long-lasting. NO moving walk ways. UNBELIEVABLE! this one looks like a design disaster to me. Yes, once you get to the immigration are things are much improved but if several international flights arrive at the same time? beware. It won't be 'fun'.

  4. Stace Guest

    Another example of tax dollars wasted in King County and WA in general. This seems true of every project they undertake. And no one ever is held responsible.

  5. Eric Guest

    It’s not one side of the story.

    The company argues that the contract documents defining the work “specifically state that Clark was to design the Project to accommodate narrowbody aircraft at Gates A6 and A8, not widebody aircraft.” Period. Full stop. That’s, in the contract that Clark design the gates in question for “narrow body aircraft.” Seems quite obvious SEA-TAC/Port of Seattle head, failed to read the fine print regarding the EXACTING specifics of...

    It’s not one side of the story.

    The company argues that the contract documents defining the work “specifically state that Clark was to design the Project to accommodate narrowbody aircraft at Gates A6 and A8, not widebody aircraft.” Period. Full stop. That’s, in the contract that Clark design the gates in question for “narrow body aircraft.” Seems quite obvious SEA-TAC/Port of Seattle head, failed to read the fine print regarding the EXACTING specifics of the said gates, & green lighted/signed off.

    Their the one or one’s w egg on their face, & mud on their shoes…

  6. GLCTraveler Gold

    Folks, the project was a Progressive Design/Build with direct responsibility for the final layout both held by several parties, including Clark, Arup, Port of Seattle & it's Project Management Consultant (PMC) and others. My bet is Arup, the designer hired by the Port to provide the aircraft fit layout, screwed the pooch on the original layout and neither Clark, nor Port, it's PMC and other independent checking organizations involved caught it....... In the end, if...

    Folks, the project was a Progressive Design/Build with direct responsibility for the final layout both held by several parties, including Clark, Arup, Port of Seattle & it's Project Management Consultant (PMC) and others. My bet is Arup, the designer hired by the Port to provide the aircraft fit layout, screwed the pooch on the original layout and neither Clark, nor Port, it's PMC and other independent checking organizations involved caught it....... In the end, if it was Arup, they may be the one held responsible under a professional liability Errors and Omission claim. There is a lot more to the story here and of course, it was not detailed in the Seattle Times article as it should have been so the world understands the whole story as opposed to the sensational headlines they threw out there!!

    There is simple computer simulation software that's used to check the movement of any type of vehicle including planes and it seems NO ONE thought to double check the movements of all required elements before construction started....... This error is just STUPID and to now have it come to light 2+ years after it was completed is just more ridiculous.

    Clark is a "Big Boy" in the construction industry and has execute many successful design/build projects around the country. They should step up and engage in solving the problem here and not run and stick their head in the sand like chicken little. The Clark Division President, Brett Earnest's statement that they hired "best-in-class aviation design experts" is now questionable at best...... A true "Best-In-Class" expert would have caught these errors and or at least questioned them during design development!! Arup is NOT 'best-in-class"....... Nor is SOM or Miller Hull Partnership when it comes to Airport Planning..... They should have used either Jacobs, WSP or the biggest and best in the industry, AECOM, who did the North Terminal!!

    Brett & Clark, step and put on your Big Boys panties!!

    P.S. Arup has had its share of legal problems with their designs around the world and this one doesn't surprise me at all either.

    1. Fred Guest

      Hmmmmmm.....
      It sounds like you are pretty biased in your view here.
      What would you say if the project definition documents specifically outlined narrow body jets at these specific gates?
      Also if Clark are bid boys, why is it there responsibility to fix something that the Port specifically requested?

  7. Airfarer Diamond

    In England, they have a new rail line being built. The original estimate was about $40,000 million, now, only one-third built, the new estimate is $120,000 million. Gotta love the government.

  8. 305 Guest

    The fact that they chose to build an insane sky bridge over the taxiway rather than an infinitely cheaper tunnel like every other airport should have been an indication that this project would never end well

    1. Zach B Guest

      They realistically couldn't build a tunnel as there's already existing tunnel infrastructure there for baggage and the Airport Mover. You'd have to dig deeper to get under said infrastructure and then reinforce the foundation. Along with skybridges are fine, Gatwick has a sky bridge for immigration and it does fine.

  9. Lori Guest

    Must be the same people I’m charge of TSA security lines that extend into the parking garage. Now I know what the problem is. All the money was wasted on a inept international terminal. Oh my!

  10. K Ralf Guest

    If all 20 gates were in use, they wouldn't have enough customs agents to deal with the amount of people. Landed there on a Saturday with about 1000 people and the line was serpentined through the baggage claim area.

    1. Traveyo Guest

      We landed Thursday with 4 wide body international fully loaded flight 800+ people over 3 hours to get threw.. every other tsa booth was open it was a nightmare

  11. Amy Thompson Guest

    Problems with gate configuration notwithstanding, the passport control area combined with customs is a nightmare (as opposed to before when you passed through passport control THEN retrieved your checked baggage for customs). People dragging or carting around huge suitcases and packages trying to determine which line to get into all the while clogging and cogging up the entire process. It took an hour and a half to clear with handcarry only on a recent trip...

    Problems with gate configuration notwithstanding, the passport control area combined with customs is a nightmare (as opposed to before when you passed through passport control THEN retrieved your checked baggage for customs). People dragging or carting around huge suitcases and packages trying to determine which line to get into all the while clogging and cogging up the entire process. It took an hour and a half to clear with handcarry only on a recent trip back from PV Mexico. Not to mention the 1 mile trek from the jetway to the customs area. You better have a more than a 2-hour connection time for your next flight.

  12. Joe Guest

    Seems simple to solve... did the construction company build to the blueprints and any change orders?
    Yes - pay the company.
    No - company pays.

    1. GLCTraveler Gold

      Joe,
      Not quite so simple as you note..... The project was a modified Design/Build with direct responsibility for both held by several parties, including Clark and Arup. My bet is Arup, the designer hired by the Port to provide the aircraft fit layout, screwed the pooch on the original layout and Clark, nor Port caught it....... In the end, if it was Arup, they may be the one held responsible under an professional liability...

      Joe,
      Not quite so simple as you note..... The project was a modified Design/Build with direct responsibility for both held by several parties, including Clark and Arup. My bet is Arup, the designer hired by the Port to provide the aircraft fit layout, screwed the pooch on the original layout and Clark, nor Port caught it....... In the end, if it was Arup, they may be the one held responsible under an professional liability Errors and Omission claim. There is a lot more to the story here and of course, it was not detailed in the Seattle Times article as it should have been so the world understands the whole story as opposed to the sensational headlines they threw out there!!
      P.S. Arup has had it's share of legal problems with their designs around the world and this one doesn't surprise me at all either.

  13. Brianair Guest

    They couldn't have checked the design specifications first before constructing this?! Sounds like they're screwed if they want to correct this mistake because they don't have enough room in that part of the airport to add additional international gates without sacrificing other existing gates. Looking at it, the International Terminal is pretty much boxed in between the rest of the terminal complex immediately to the north and the Delta and Alaska maintenance hangars immediately to...

    They couldn't have checked the design specifications first before constructing this?! Sounds like they're screwed if they want to correct this mistake because they don't have enough room in that part of the airport to add additional international gates without sacrificing other existing gates. Looking at it, the International Terminal is pretty much boxed in between the rest of the terminal complex immediately to the north and the Delta and Alaska maintenance hangars immediately to the south.

    1. Joe Smie Guest

      You are correct there is no room to expand the satellite therefore their never could have been 20 widebody gates in the specifications - heck I don't think there's room for 20 narrow body gates in the South satellite.
      SeaTac has been maxed out for at least two decades and the only way to do further expansion is to cannibalize cargo and maintenance facilities north of the north satellite, but then where would those functions be relocated...Renton perhaps?

    2. Fred Guest

      The 20 gates are spread across South Satellite and A Concourse.
      Why do we keep ignoring this part of the article: “specifically state that Clark was to design the Project to accommodate narrowbody aircraft at Gates A6 and A8, not widebody aircraft.”

  14. chasgoose Guest

    If this were a departure and arrivals facility I guess that could be a problem, but if it’s just arrivals, I can’t imagine SEA-TAC has the staff or capacity to handle 16 widebodies of arriving passengers at once without it being a giant nightmare. Even at OHare, which uses T5 as the international arrivals facility but also for most non AA/UA international departures, I don’t think I’ve ever seen 16 widebodies parked at that terminal...

    If this were a departure and arrivals facility I guess that could be a problem, but if it’s just arrivals, I can’t imagine SEA-TAC has the staff or capacity to handle 16 widebodies of arriving passengers at once without it being a giant nightmare. Even at OHare, which uses T5 as the international arrivals facility but also for most non AA/UA international departures, I don’t think I’ve ever seen 16 widebodies parked at that terminal at the same time.

    I guess it could be a good place to store the planes if some flights have long turnovers in SEA, but I imagine most airlines try to minimize that so they would want the plane moved to the departure gate quickly and they could always park it somewhere else if it has a longer turnaround.

    1. Traveyo Guest

      The terminal is for international arrivals and departures. So the plane reloads once empty. I was just there Thursday. The new area is a joke.

  15. Regis Guest

    This airport was poorly designed, poorly expanded and is poorly managed. Definetely the airport offering the worst passenger experience amongst the majors in the west coast. I avoid it whenever possible.

    1. Brianair Guest

      SFO is more poorly designed in my opinion but it's close.

    2. Brian Guest

      SFO is the best airport in the country, period

    3. eponymous coward Guest

      (Laughs in LAX)

  16. Steve Guest

    Was this is a design/build project or did Clark build according to the A&E plans? If the latter, it is likely the A&E's fault. That said, the customer still has the responsibility to ask questions and signoff on the plans.

  17. D3kingg Guest

    Off topic but I really wish American would get a LAX SIN going.

  18. Rand Guest

    This is typical of Washington state I live here and all govt is incompetent and it's allowed by the voters who either don't care or ignore what's going on. My first question did any of the idiots at the airport,city or state check during construction? No of course not because you never lose a job with civil service. It serves them right

  19. Randy A. Guest

    The original design or the approved design will determine who is telling the truth.

  20. Arthur Guest

    Given that the contractor flatly stated in filings that they performed in accordance with the contract and Seattle has not directly contradicted that in its filings tells you the city screwed up. And now the government cannot admit its fault so is countersuing likely by making some variation of the argument that the construction company should have saved the government from its own mistake. Probably hoping to force a better settlement on the original claims...

    Given that the contractor flatly stated in filings that they performed in accordance with the contract and Seattle has not directly contradicted that in its filings tells you the city screwed up. And now the government cannot admit its fault so is countersuing likely by making some variation of the argument that the construction company should have saved the government from its own mistake. Probably hoping to force a better settlement on the original claims for additional payment by the contractor.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      And lawyers get richer on behalf of taxpayers for no reason.

    2. Robert D Guest

      The city has nothing to do with this.

    3. GLCTraveler Gold

      Exactly Robert D., it is the Port of Seattle who was responsible, NOT the City!

      The Port usually hires a Project Management Consultant to help and/or fully manage projects like this, and the Port oversees the consultant..... I'm not sure who that was, but they likely had a hand in missing this little check too, before the concrete starting getting hard and grey!!

      All the liars need to be put in the same room with...

      Exactly Robert D., it is the Port of Seattle who was responsible, NOT the City!

      The Port usually hires a Project Management Consultant to help and/or fully manage projects like this, and the Port oversees the consultant..... I'm not sure who that was, but they likely had a hand in missing this little check too, before the concrete starting getting hard and grey!!

      All the liars need to be put in the same room with a court recorder and the difficult questions asked!! What a cluster f@#k.......

  21. Jampa Guest

    International arrival escalator is to too steep and too long. There is no disable facilities. Dubai,Doha, Bangalore all airports have disable facilities. Man with wheelchair where he go here.

    1. Fred Guest

      There is an elevator right next to the escalator in the International Arrivals Terminal

  22. Dale Guest

    The port authority can not even plan to get people from the cell lot to arriving without making you change lanes three times.

  23. shoeguy Guest

    Flew in and out of SeaTac twice in the last few months and quite honestly, the airport has many problems. The biggest is the land it occupies, which is relatively small and thus limits the amount of expansion that is possible. The terminals all felt crowded, with fairly long security lines, including those for TSA Pre Check. The retail and dining offerings are reflective of the city, and that's a good thing, when it comes...

    Flew in and out of SeaTac twice in the last few months and quite honestly, the airport has many problems. The biggest is the land it occupies, which is relatively small and thus limits the amount of expansion that is possible. The terminals all felt crowded, with fairly long security lines, including those for TSA Pre Check. The retail and dining offerings are reflective of the city, and that's a good thing, when it comes to local options, but on the whole, are pretty average when it comes to the quality of the food and beverage.

  24. Herman G Guest

    Strange that Seattle being home of Boeing, could get the specs wrong for the airport layout.

  25. OneBumKnee Guest

    Port of Seattle routinely gets everything wrong. Latest example is this week when, during Spring Break, they chose to finish the concrete sidewalk project ending at Alaska Airlines. Had anyone thought to start the project at Alaska and worked their way down the building at departures level then they would have been down near the international terminal when the increased crowds arrived for Spring Break. Instead, they choked off the entry point by one lane,...

    Port of Seattle routinely gets everything wrong. Latest example is this week when, during Spring Break, they chose to finish the concrete sidewalk project ending at Alaska Airlines. Had anyone thought to start the project at Alaska and worked their way down the building at departures level then they would have been down near the international terminal when the increased crowds arrived for Spring Break. Instead, they choked off the entry point by one lane, resulting in massive delays in dropping off at Departures. This is only the latest example of the ineptitude of this airport's leadership.

  26. Susan W Guest

    They're is a huge struggle when more than 5 planes land at the same time. It will typically take a little more than an hour for esta/visa folks to get through the lines. Do not plan less than 3 hours between flights if you're connecting!!!!!

  27. Paul Gibler Guest

    Where's the architectural drawings and the airport's master plan in all of this dissension? Both should have clearly defined the specs BEFORE anything was built.

    1. Paul Car New Member

      The IFC Architectural drawings will be available several months after it has been finished, just like any big project these days!!

    2. Cheryl B Guest

      Per Clark Construction website, they are the designer...
      "Clark returns to the Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport to design and construct the 450,000 square-foot International Arrivals Facility (IAF)"

  28. yepnope Guest

    20 international flights all at the same time sounds... ambitious to say the least. Is there even enough staff to accomplish such a feat in seattle? I just flew into a different larger port and customs struggled to clear 2 flights. When we got to the baggage claim, the staff struggled to unload everything onto the belt.

    1. red_robbo Guest

      The current number of staff is hardly relevant here. This is all about potential capacity in the future...

    2. chasgoose Guest

      Sure, but even with enough staff, those who have used the terminal are skeptical the immigration facilities could ever handle a situation where all 16 widebody gates were in use by arriving planes, let alone 20. Also, SEA already has a pretty high saturation of international flights, I’m not sure how much more growth they can expect.

  29. Vik Guest

    I came in here to say the same thing Eskimo did. Total mess. It doesn’t help that 1130a to 130p is when 90% of the big carriers land.

  30. Eskimo Guest

    No one is going to comment on the actual usage?
    Or no one here ever cleared immigration from the new facility?

    Clearly the arrivals facility cannot accommodate simultaneous large flights.
    And yet somehow SEA still manages to have a confusing procedure and design.

    The walk is now much longer.
    And you still wait forever for your bags. And here is the most obnoxious design problem.
    You take your bags first...

    No one is going to comment on the actual usage?
    Or no one here ever cleared immigration from the new facility?

    Clearly the arrivals facility cannot accommodate simultaneous large flights.
    And yet somehow SEA still manages to have a confusing procedure and design.

    The walk is now much longer.
    And you still wait forever for your bags. And here is the most obnoxious design problem.
    You take your bags first then enter immigrations, which is not much larger than the ones in the old S gates, when you compare the size and number of open agents. But this time you're in line with all you bags, even oversized ones. I also can't see how a U shape immigration is a better design.

    So maybe the bad gate design restrictions is to compensate for another bad terminal design.
    Bad use of space, bad design, just a waste of money.

    New international facility looks good on the outside, but a complete mess to use.

    1. JtL Guest

      Also cant wait for the 4 story escalators to break down!

    2. Fred Guest

      The Port adopted the new federal program for CBP of "bags first".
      This according to the feds this was going to save people time.

      Bottom line, there are way more moving parts here than the layman knows about.

  31. T- Guest

    What an embarrassment! Not a person over the years discovered this? Unacceptable!

    1. Fred Guest

      Or could it be the Port is trying to hang someone out to dry for an error they made?

  32. Tony Guest

    This is, unfortunately, indicative of how incompetent that we've become in so many industries. I'm not sure who deserves more blame. Everyone, I suppose.

  33. eponymous coward Guest

    Huh. Maybe this is why I boarded my AA flight to London on a 777 from the N gates at SEA.

    It was convenient having the Alaska Lounge right above my gate though…

  34. LEo Diamond

    As a high-school student, to even use the school's garbage 3D printer(The cheapest FDM model on the market), I need to get approval from the Design Lead who validates my digital drawings, and review against my design specification to make sure that no part is going to waste. I can't imagine this is not the case for this nearly a billion project.

    1. Dave Guest

      Oh, you still have a lot to learn, including that (1) the higher up you go in any organization, the less anyone else will second guess their decisions, even if those decisions aren’t based on any knowledge, evidence or logic and (2) the bigger the budget available to a project, the less anyone involved will bother to double check anything involved in its calculation.

      Welcome to adulthood! Where rules, guidelines and laws apply inversely...

      Oh, you still have a lot to learn, including that (1) the higher up you go in any organization, the less anyone else will second guess their decisions, even if those decisions aren’t based on any knowledge, evidence or logic and (2) the bigger the budget available to a project, the less anyone involved will bother to double check anything involved in its calculation.

      Welcome to adulthood! Where rules, guidelines and laws apply inversely to one’s status and wealth. (This does also apply to kids of those adults, but perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to not encounter those little bastards yet in your high school.)

    2. Ck Guest

      Not completely true. Millions of things are done each day that actually go pretty smoothly. This however, is beyond explaining. Let the kid discover life for himself. Everyone’s life is different.

    3. Fred Guest

      Well you are much more wise than Dave.....

  35. Leo Liang Guest

    Who approved the technical drawings in the first place? Knowing that there's practically 0 feasibility with these designs of the gates.

  36. Scudder Diamond

    $624MM over budget, but school teachers in this country have to pay out of pocket for supplies for their classrooms.

    1. Vancouver - Char Diamond

      not to mention military spending

  37. MeanMeosh Member

    Sounds like a Spinal Tap situation. The authorities must have written 18" on the paper napkin rendering of the gate configuration instead of 18'.

  38. Anne Guest

    I hate flying internationally out of SEATAC. I’d rather fly two hours south to SFO (which has more options) than deal with flying out of a minor league airport like we have here.

  39. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    how does something budgeted to cost $344 million cost?

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Cost … over $900 million?

    2. Dave Guest

      Private corporations overpay for their buildings too… including commissioning unique flagship structures that require lots of expensive retrofits afterwards and forcing all their employees back into the office to justify why they’re still renting or building millions of square feet of office space even as everyone involved proved they could do their jobs just as well from home.

      It’s not a government thing. It’s a bureaucracy thing, and the nation’s largest companies have just...

      Private corporations overpay for their buildings too… including commissioning unique flagship structures that require lots of expensive retrofits afterwards and forcing all their employees back into the office to justify why they’re still renting or building millions of square feet of office space even as everyone involved proved they could do their jobs just as well from home.

      It’s not a government thing. It’s a bureaucracy thing, and the nation’s largest companies have just as much pointless and incompetent bureaucracy as the nation’s largest governmental units.

    3. Scudder Diamond

      It's multifaceted. Part is underselling to the public, to get it approved, then hiking costs when there's no going back. Part is due to laws requiring governments to go with the lowest "reasonable" or "responsible" bids, but those contractors also include clauses to pass on "unexpected" costs rather than eat them.

    4. John Guest

      @Scudder

      Excellent point about 'underselling', or to be more blunt - intentionally understating the probable cost. This happens all over the world, especially in public infrastructure projects. What does continue to surprise me are the complaints and hand-wringing after the true costs are revealed. I mean, come on! Any moderately intelligent person who pays attention to history ought to know, ought to EXPECT cost 'blowout'. And I bet that 'blowout' comes in pretty much as...

      @Scudder

      Excellent point about 'underselling', or to be more blunt - intentionally understating the probable cost. This happens all over the world, especially in public infrastructure projects. What does continue to surprise me are the complaints and hand-wringing after the true costs are revealed. I mean, come on! Any moderately intelligent person who pays attention to history ought to know, ought to EXPECT cost 'blowout'. And I bet that 'blowout' comes in pretty much as originally calculated (but never revealed to the public!).

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Paul Gibler Guest

Where's the architectural drawings and the airport's master plan in all of this dissension? Both should have clearly defined the specs BEFORE anything was built.

2
Dave Guest

Private corporations overpay for their buildings too… including commissioning unique flagship structures that require lots of expensive retrofits afterwards and forcing all their employees back into the office to justify why they’re still renting or building millions of square feet of office space even as everyone involved proved they could do their jobs just as well from home. It’s not a government thing. It’s a bureaucracy thing, and the nation’s largest companies have just as much pointless and incompetent bureaucracy as the nation’s largest governmental units.

2
Dave Guest

Oh, you still have a lot to learn, including that (1) the higher up you go in any organization, the less anyone else will second guess their decisions, even if those decisions aren’t based on any knowledge, evidence or logic and (2) the bigger the budget available to a project, the less anyone involved will bother to double check anything involved in its calculation. Welcome to adulthood! Where rules, guidelines and laws apply inversely to one’s status and wealth. (This does also apply to kids of those adults, but perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to not encounter those little bastards yet in your high school.)

2
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