The ODOT, KYTC Bypass Blunder

OH, KY Transp. Officials Attack BSB Alternative; Make Massive Math Error

An op-ed from ODOT Director Jerry Wray and Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock recently published in the Cincinnati Enquirer is the latest example of why so many people in Northern Kentucky do not have confidence in the quality of analysis from the pro-toll coalition. The op-ed from the top transportation officials in Ohio and Kentucky asserted that the Cincy Eastern Bypass would cost upwards of $5 billion.

They make a fairly compelling case, until you realize their whole argument relies on a massive calculation error.

Director Wray and Secretary Hancock used a 25 year old study from a completely different road to estimate the cost of the currently proposed bypass:

“The study identified three potential alignments, ranging in length from 12 to 23 miles and in cost from $115 million to $230 million in 1990 dollars.”

They went on to explain:

“Adjusted for 25 years of inflation, the estimated cost of construction alone for the study’s recommended alignment would be $2.2 billion today and that doesn’t include Ohio’s portion.”

Their final analysis was that the Cincy Eastern Bypass “could easily top $5 billion.”

There’s just one problem. The most expensive alignment mentioned, $230 million in 1990 dollars, adjusted for inflation over 25 years, isn’t $2.2 billion dollars. It’s roughly $420 million in 2015 dollars.

We double checked the math, and used two different inflation indices (Consumer Price Index and ENR Cost of Construction Index). The results were the same regardless of inflation index: $230 million in 1990 dollars adjusted for cost of inflation over 25 years is roughly $420 million in 2015 dollars, not $2.2 billion.

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Region deserves better. The public deserves accurate, thoughtful analysis about our region’s transportation needs, not shoddy math and ad hominem attacks.

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