Desperate Need to Slash Construction Cost of New Subways

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1976, Vol. 46, Issue 12, Pg. 37-42

Document Type: Feature article


Subways and subway stations cost far too much to build in the U.S. Whereas Londoners recently built 3-1/2 miles of subways and subway stations for only $18,000,000, the Washington Metro is running $50 to $60 million per mile. Among ways to dramatically cut costs: (1)Establish better contracting practices — having the consultant do a more thorough geotechnical investigation so subway contractors won't have to put large contingency factors into their bids; (2)introduce new technologies such as slurry walls, secant pile walls, and precast concrete liners; (3)remove the burden of risk from the shoulders of consultants, risks connected with the introduction of new technology; (4)more carefully study alternatives in the initial planning phases of a subway system — necessary for subway tunnels to be so large? Subway platforms need to be that long? Do stations have to be as large or as deep? In sum: the U.S. DOT is unhappy with the designs of current subway systems; they are not as cost-effective as they could be. The U.S. must introduce technical and institutional innovations, as other countries have done, if costs are to be sharply reduced.

Subject Headings: Subways | Construction costs | Consulting services | Slurry walls | Precast concrete | Risk management | Railroad stations | Geotechnical investigation | Washington | United States

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