Blame the Trees?

Cost overruns (nearly $200 million so far) for the yet-to-be-completed Capitol Visitor Center will be the focus of February hearings called by Rep. Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.), chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee. The delays and higher-than-expected cost–the project was supposed to be completed by now for $265 million–are being blamed in part on several trees on the Capitol grounds, according to Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman. When Congress voted to prohibit the removal of trees, including a nearly dead 130-year-old English elm, taxpayers had to pay $2 million for preservation. Meanwhile, there’s no firm date set for completion of the center.