East Side Access completion date postponed to 2018By
When the MTA Board gathered for its most recent meeting in July, the authority’s leaders addressed concerns over the East Side Access Project’s rate of progress. With federal officials predicting a 16-month delay, the MTA admitted that it had exhausted its schedule contingency for a variety of reasons. This week, we learn that the authority has officially delayed the project completion date to April 2018, sixteen months later than scheduled. “This is a project facing significant challenges,” MTA CEO and Chair Jay Walder said during subcommittee meetings yesterday.
Ultimately, shaky project management as well as conflicts with Amtrak over the Harold Interlocking has led to these delays, and the news is only going to get worse for LIRR riders. Beginning in October and continuing through 2015, Amtrak is set to replace the track in all four of its East River tunnels after inspections following a May derailment found significant track damage. The work will take place in 55-hour spurts over nearly every weekend until 2015. Tracks will be out of service from 10 p.m. on Fridays through 5 a.m. on Mondays and during some weekday overnight periods. The LIRR says the work will have “little or no impact” on its service, but the work will leave less operating flexibility during the weekends. This tunnel work will delay work on the Harold Interlocking which, in turn, will delay the East Side Access project.
Meanwhile, official recognition of this delay leaves me worried over the fate of the Second Avenue Subway as well. At the same time they predicted this postponement, the Feds also said that SAS was likely headed toward a similar fate. Such a substantial delay along the Upper East Side would be disastrous for the neighborhood and for the MTA politically. Meanwhile, as foreign transit agencies build at a quick rate and for less money, the MTA is stuck with a deep cavern north of Grand Central for upwards of $8 billion and 12 years of construction. That’s a problem.