Sean Connaughton probably won’t sleep very well tonight.
A FOIA request reveals that he low-balled the estimate for building Charlottesville’s proposed Western Bypass, which might help explain why he pushed through approval of the thing, getting a four-person majority on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to hold an unadvertised midnight vote to sign off on it in July. VDOT’s study just one month beforehand found that the road would cost $436M, but he told the BOS—and the Commonwealth Transportation Board—that it would be just $197M, less than half of the real price. He promised the BOS $197M in funding if they’d OK it, and then he got the CTB to allocate the money. Now it emerges that he knew that it would cost a great deal more than that. Folks in Albemarle are pretty pissed about how this has all gone down, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here it is.
The only possibility that Connaughton has for redemption is if somehow, mystically, the bids come in at less than half of VDOT’s estimates, and then the work actually gets done for that price. And if that’s the case, he’s got another problem—his engineers can’t even get in the ballpark of how much a road costs.