As the Second Ave. Subway chugs ahead late and over budget, the MTA Inspector General says that work slower and more expensive than anticipated on the utilities underneath the avenue is to blame for the project’s rising costs, The New York Times reported this morning. In a letter to Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, MTAIG Barry Kluger said that the utilities relocation work has taken six months longer than expected and will cost $130 million higher than initial estimates.
While Kluger’s report isn’t available publicly, The Times says the Manhattan BP had asked the Inspector General’s Office to explore the reasons behind the slow pace of progress on the massive construction project. Michael Grynbaum has more:
The inspector general, Barry L. Kluger, who admitted “frustration” over the project’s progress, also found that the transportation authority’s troubles in awarding contracts have added $120 million to the bill and extended its completion date by a full year.
Mr. Kluger’s findings offer a rare glimpse at the item-by-item causes for the enormous financial woes plaguing the project. Federal officials now believe the first phase of the subway line will cost about $4.98 billion, nearly $1 billion more than the original estimate in 2007, when federal financing was secured for the project.
Federal officials now estimate the first phase of work will be completed in February 2018, while transportation authority officials have put the date at no later than July 2017. The transportation authority has acknowledged the project is over budget, but its planners say the ultimate cost for this phase will be around $4.45 billion.
The MTA has been toeing the 2016/2017 party line for nearly a year now despite the feds’ insistence than Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway — an extension of the Q line from 57th and Broadway to 2nd Ave. and 96th St. — won’t be ready for revenue service until 2018 at the earliest. Phases 2 and beyond remain in doubt.
For his part, Stringer was critical of the way the MTA has overseen this project. “What due diligence didn’t happen that we are having these cost overruns?” he said to The Times. “There is a sophistication needed for managing a capital program of this magnitude that is lacking…“The MTA must take a more realistic approach to managing expectations.” The authority hasn’t yet offered up much in the way of an explanation for the problems their capital programs have faced, but Kluger is working on a report that should see the light of day before 2010 is out.
Meanwhile, federal officials aren’t happy with the pace of work either. As Grynbaum notes, FTA officials have warned the MTA that they won’t spend “a single penny” to cover rising costs or delays. As always, the fate of even Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway remains unknown.