The federal government is raining on the MTA’s parade again. For the past year, the Federal Transit Administration has warned that the East Side Access Project and Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway would not wrap in 2016 as the MTA predicts. Rather, the government believes the two projects will finish in 2018, around 15 months later than planned and over budget. A new report reiterates that stance.
According to the FTA, East Side Access and the SAS and well behind schedule and significantly over budget. East Side Access, the feds say, will open in April 2018 with a price tag of $8.1 billion while the SAS will enter revenue service in February 2018 and at a cost of $4.8 billion. The MTA maintains these two projects will be completed in September and December of 2016 and at a cost of $7.1 billion and $4.4 billion respectively. The authority did however note that concerns over East Side Access remain.
The MTA disputed the FTA report. “As we have said previously, a project of this magnitude does not come without risks. We continue to work to mitigate those risks, adhere to the current schedule and keep the project on budget,” agency spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.
However, the FTA called the pace of the subcontracting work “unacceptable,” and AM New York has more:
The reports show the feds’ continued frustration with the East Side Access project, reiterating its stance on when the first riders will benefit from it — and at what cost. But they did soften their opinion on the management of the Second Avenue subway, saying the team overseeing the project “has been diligent in resolving critical construction issues and avoiding extensive construction delays,” despite its negative projections.
MTA board member Mitch Pally, who sits on the agency’s capital projects committee, said the board is aware of the government’s concerns, but is not convinced the problems are unavoidable. “Obviously we’re concerned about the timing because the quicker we can put this into revenue service, the better it is for the MTA,” Pally said, adding that the agency is trying to find ways to speed up work and trim costs. “We have no plans on waving the white flag until we absolutely have to.”
Charles Moerdler, another MTA board member on the committee that oversees the projects, said he believed the FTA’s reports were “inaccurate,” and called capital construction president Michael Horodniceanu’s work “perfectly magnificent.” “They are doing as good if not a better job than one can reasonably expect,” Moerdler said.
The FTA had nothing to add to their report, according to amNY but further explained that if the MTA “successfully managed and mitigated its risks, the overruns they predict for the projects’ schedules and costs could be reduced.”
As amNew York reports and as I said above, this debate over the timeline truly is nothing new, but it’s not a comforting development. It shouldn’t take 10 years to build three stops of a subway line, and the MTA may have to get its ducks in order to see these projects delivered in time. For now, the warnings and the disputes are out there, and the subway construction will continue seemingly forever and ever.