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Well, it’s finally done. Tomorrow will be the first formal opening of the Capitol Visitor Center, a project that hopefully one day will outgrow its reputation for embodying all the wasteful, inefficient tendencies of Congress. For now, the chortling continues though. Today’s Washington Post reminds us why: “What was proposed as a $71 million project in the early 1990s became a $265 million endeavor a decade later. By the time work got underway in 2002, the price tag was up to $368 million.”
According to a March 2007 Post article, government auditors thought the building would end up costing about $600 million. The final price tag is $621. According to the center’s website, the building is nearly 580,000 square feet and “is approximately three quarters the size of the Capitol itself.” By comparison, the Washington Convention Center-—surely the most cavernous and gigantic structure to be finished in recent years downtown—-is more than 2.3 million square feet and cost $850 million. Talk about bang for your buck.