Who would believe that this project won’t wrap up on time? (Source: flickr user Betty Blade)
When the MTA announced earlier this week that the long-anticipated Culver Viaduct rehabilitation project would take longer and cost more than originally anticipated, Brooklynites the world over were shocked — shocked, I tell you! — by the news.
No, wait. They weren’t.
According to The Brooklyn Paper, this project and our dreams for an F Express train will have to wait longer than we had hoped. The MTA, according to the paper, still plans to begin the project next year, but the completion date for the station renovation at Smith and 9th Sts. has been pushed back to 2011.
Worse still for the cash-strapped agency is the price tag. Originally set at $187.8 million, the rehabilitation plan will now cost “upwards of a quarter-billion dollars,” as MTA spokesperson Deirdre Parker told Mike McLaughlin.
So that’s the bad news, and while I’m poking fun at the MTA’s inability to finish most major rehabilitation projects on time and at budget, there’s more at work here than simply business as usual. While The Brooklyn Paper story doesn’t get into the why’s of this delay and significant cost increase, we are well versed in these problems.
First, as with any other contractor in the city, costs are spiking. The economy is suffering through its worst downturn since the Great Depression, and with financial institutes collapsing and consolidating, a lot of construction projects are left unfunded and unfinished. The MTA, as a public benefit corporation, isn’t in danger of collapsing, but it will face rising costs. This 33 percent increase probably won’t be the last that we’ll see in regards to this project.
Second, the MTA itself has no money. The agency is attempting to reorganize internally and coax more money out of the state legislature. As such, it has to scale back their aggressive timetables for many of its top-priority projects. This is, of course, a double-edged sword. The longer these projects are delayed, the more they will cost. If the government were to provide for proper funding, the MTA would be able to improve its cost and timetable efficiency.
I know it’s rather naïve of me to think that a third Bloomberg term would deliver more respect to the MTA. But if we’re truly heading down that path, I hope the Transit Authority is allotted more financial resources over the next few years. If its not, we’ll be paying the price long past the completion of one long-delayed project in South Brooklyn.