Federal contributions to MTA megaprojects laggingBy
Despite a request by President Obama to fulfill full-funding obligations, Congress has authorized slightly less than promised for the MTA’s big-ticket items. As Rep. Carolyn Maloney announced yesterday, in the 2012 budget, House and Senate leaders have granted the MTA $186,566,000 for the Second Ave. Subway and $203,424,000 for the East Side Access Project. Some House Republicans had tried to introduce significant funding cuts, but a bipartisan effort led to the restoration of nearly all of the promised dollars.
Despite these grants, the MTA had been counting on more. The President had asked for $197 million for SAS and $215 million for ESA. Some House drafts of the appropriations bill would have cut those mounts by 21 and 47 percent respectively. These cuts, in the 5-9 percent range instead, are much more palatable. It is, as yet, unclear how the lesser grants will increase the MTA’s two megaprojects.
“These funding levels are not ideal, but the MTA should be able to keep the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access on track with the amounts provided. These desperately-needed transit projects are creating tens of thousands of jobs literally beneath our feet,” Maloney said in a statement. “At a time when pretty much everyone agrees that job creation should be our number-one priority, I’m relieved that adequate federal funding for two of the best job-creation engines in the New York area has been included in the 2012 budget. Transit projects are among the best economic stimulus programs around – indeed, every dollar spent on public infrastructure boosts our economy by an estimated $1.59.”