Fearmongering from the Post on the SAS


Oh, The Post. There’s nothing like it for a little bluster with your morning coffee. While one of my sites has sworn off sensationalized tabloid coverage, I haven’t done the same thing here, and Steve Cuozzo’s ripe for the picking today.

In a piece that brings up some very valid points, Steve Cuozzo rips into the MTA and Mayor Bloomberg for its approach to the Second Ave. Subway. Calling the project “traumatizing,” “farcically underbudgeted,” and “a joke,” Cuozzo rips into the MTA for pulling budget numbers out of thin air — which they didn’t — and calls on the agency to ensure adequate protocols are in place to finish the project.

Now, the latter point is a valid one. The city and the MTA should do everything under their combined powers to finish the job. But Cuozzo’s point is obscured by some need to be That Angry Guy and his over-the-top statements lessen the impact of his editorial. Take, for instance, this claim:

The MTA’s capital-budget summary (released in February) farcically underbudgets all that work at $4.34 billion. And it takes only common sense to appreciate what a pittance that is.

The MTA says it needs $1.1 billion for the Fulton project – not to lay an inch of track, buy new subway cars or build new stations, but just to rearrange underground platforms and build a pedestrian tunnel to Ground Zero. And in all likelihood, $1.1 billion won’t be enough, thanks to galloping building-trade inflation (as much as 5 percent, by some estimates).

By that light, it doesn’t take an engineer or an accountant to grasp that $4.34 billion for the Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 is a joke.

Cuozzo omits the fact that a segment of the Phase 1 tunnel already exists, and he fails to note that the MTA has already revised their budgets for the project upward. When the original budgets were released five years ago, those numbers made sense. Today, they don’t, and no one is claiming otherwise.

Meanwhile, his conclusion is a little absurd considering the historical tale of the Second Ave. Subway. “If they can’t come up with a viable plan, then work should stop before Second Avenue turns into a mess worse than Fulton Street – one from which a huge slice of Manhattan might never recover.”

A huge slice of Manhattan has recovered from three other attempts at building the Second Ave. Subway. If the MTA had to call it quits for a fourth time, I think once they patched up the streets, the memory of a fourth failed effort would simply enter city lore as another sad chapter in the Second Ave. Subway.

Cuozzo makes some good points: The MTA and the city have not been kind to merchants along Second Ave., and it’s been hard to assess the progress on the project with many residents saying they don’t see much happening above-ground. Of course, subway construction happens below-ground too, but that’s a conceptual leap people find hard to make. They want to see progress.

The MTA and the city should, as Cuozzo says, work out a way to 100 percent ensure the future of this subway line. But make your point without all the bluster, man.

6 Responses to “Fearmongering from the Post on the SAS”

  1. Kevin says:

    Why bother dealing with the trolls at the Post. Anything on their pages don’t qualify as journalism or are clips from the AP. That’s why it cost a measly quarter.

  2. Gary says:

    “But make your point without all the bluster, man.”

    Would that still be the Post?

    By the way, did I mention the scoop? Kerry-Gephart ticket! It’s true I read it in the Post.

    SAS will be built . . . at least this first phase of it. The irony is, we need a lot more federal money to build the rest of the SAS, which tends to be opposed by the GOP . . . who Rupert Murdoch supports. So the SAS is actively undermined by the publisher of the NY Post.

  3. Marc Shepherd says:

    Cuozzo makes several valid points. The first is that we need the Second Avenue Subway. The second is that the MTA can never be trusted to get the initial budget right; or the second estimate; or the third. And last, if the project founders the way so many others have done, a very long stretch of Second Avenue could be torn up for a very long time.

    Say what you want about the Post, but which of those statements do you disagree with? They seem to me sort of obviously true.

    • Marc, That’s exactly my point. He makes a lot of very valid points. But it couches in language that obscures the meaning and lessens the impact of his column. That’s my other point.

  4. herenthere says:

    Post is one of the most disgusting newspapers I have ever seen-maybe it has to do with its connection with it being owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. However, I have to agree that the MTA does need greater financial accountability, especially in its fiscal projections.

  5. Chris H says:

    I also think that its a bit absurd to claim to be able to deduce the cost of building the SAS from the Fulton St transit center. One of the reasons that any subway construction in new york is so expensive is that the system runs 24-7 on most lines. This makes construction a lot more difficult. Now the Fulton Street transit center involves working on 6 lines while trying to minimize disruption. That’s a lot more complicated than laying track in a non active tunnel.

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