There is the old joke about the kid that wanted a pony for Christmas. On Christmas morning he found a pile of manure under the tree. He began to root around in the pile with great abandon. His brother asked him what he was doing. The kid replied, with all this horseshit there has to be a pony around here somewhere.
The moral of the story is that treasure can be found almost anywhere.
I used to joke that engineers when compared to social workers weren’t very bright. As the article at the link suggests, engineers are catching on.
One public bathroom has been under construction for twelve years. That helps explain the cost. The Bronx bionic bathroom began to be designed in ’06, with a projected completion date of ‘14. Procurement took another year. Construction took 2 years.
Let’s put modern day shitter construction into historical context. Here are three examples of old time engineering. All of the projects came in under time and under budget. I’m not an engineer but all three projects appear to be more complex than a one or two hole shitter.
Empire State Building
Demolition of the Waldorf–Astoria began in October 1929, and the foundation of the Empire State Building was excavated before demolition was even complete. Construction on the building itself started on March 17, 1930, with an average construction rate of four and a half floors per week. A well-coordinated schedule meant that the 86 stories were topped out on September 19; the mast was completed by November 21; and the building was opened on May 1, 1931, thirteen and a half months after the first steel beam was erected.
Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc., which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before, and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned the dam over to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.
U 2 “Dragon Lady” Spy plane
Lockheed received a $22.5 million contract (equivalent to $210.4 million today) in March 1955 for the first 20 aircraft, with the first $1.26 million ($11.78 million today) mailed to Johnson’s home in February 1955 to keep work going during negotiations. The company agreed to deliver the first aircraft by July of that year and the last by November 1956. It did so, and for $3.5 million ($32.3 million today) under budget. The Flight Test Engineer in charge was Joseph F. Ware Jr.
What changed? Bureaucracy, multiple layers of functionaries were inserted between the entity doing the work and the ultimate decision maker. Each one of these obstructions to progress worked at a pace that had no relation to the project. Each one required payment in effort, time or money.
Maybe San Francisco is on to something. Let em shit in the street.