Montgomery Whitewater project estimated $25M over budget
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery’s new Whitewater rafting park has a hefty new $65 million estimated price tag.
Skyrocketing construction costs, inflation, and labor shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are proving to have a major impact on the project.
The Montgomery County Commission now estimates being millions of dollars over budget. District 5 Montgomery County Commissioner Doug Singleton said in March 2019, the county’s pre-construction budget was about $40 million, but all of the unplanned extra costs has put them an estimated $25 million over budget.
“We stayed committed to seeing the project through, but again, the timing’s horrible,” said Singleton.
Singleton said building the massive entertainment district in the middle of the pandemic has come with a big cost.
“We spent nearly a million dollars just on cleaning and supplies and testing,” Singleton said.
With inflation reaching it’s highest point in 40 years, the cost to buy and ship materials was way more than originally anticipated.
Singleton said they spent $15 million more than anticipated on materials. They spent nearly $750,000 more than expected on international shipping costs, and went $6.85 million over budget to compensate for labor shortages.
“We had the worst possible timing. I wish we’d had known we would have delayed or done something different,” Singleton said.
The question now remains how they will offset the over-expenditure. Singleton said he is confident federal funds allotted to the city, county and state through the American Rescue Plan will help.
“We’re still working through that but I feel very, very optimistic because it’s all COVID-related and it’s all revenue loss-related,” Singleton said.
“We’re not going to tap into the taxpayers’ dollars. We’re not raising taxes to finish this project out,” he said.
The whitewater facility is beginning to take shape.
The park is projected to bring in nearly 300,000 visitors every year and have a $40 million yearly economic impact.
Construction crews broke ground eight months ago, and it’s been full steam ahead ever since.
Singleton said he doesn’t think they will go over budget more than the estimated $25 million and that the offset in cost is not projected to effect their projected completion date of May 2023.
“At that time we will be the premier outdoor recreation facility in the United States,” Singleton said.
Singleton added that money from their reserves and funds given to them for the project from the state and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians will also help offset the over-expenditure.
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