WASHINGTON, DC-The new Washington Convention Center is on schedule to open in 2003, but is running $48 million over budget.

The 2.3-million-sf center now rising from a huge pit at Seventh and M streets NW won approval after fierce debate over its cost and its viability to replace the smaller convention center on the opposite side of Mount Vernon Square. The District of Columbia will finance the project through the issuance of bonds.

Officials with the convention center said it would cost $708 million before work started in 1998. Now officials say it will probably cost $756.8 million.Project officials say cost overruns are typical in large projects such as in Philadelphia and Detroit.

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