Any politician worth his or her weight in savviness knows that the best way to counter bad news is with great news. So taking a page from the “Oops, an attorney general scandal; let’s raise the terror alert level” playback, that’s just what the MTA did today.
The bad news was swirling on Tuesday. A few days after Dan Doctoroff expressed his concerns with the SAS funding and just a few hours after The Times reported on the rising real estate costs of buildings along the Second Ave. corridor, the MTA announced that, oh wait, we have some good news! Look at us!
You see, that contract that was set to be signed next week was signed today, the MTA announced in an effort to capture the headlines. The MTA has more:
The first contract will provide for construction of a launch box between 92nd and 95th streets from which a tunnel boring machine (TBM) will excavate the tunnels from 92nd to 63rd streets. Also included in the first contract is the construction of two shafts at 69th Street and 72nd Street for the construction of the 72nd Street Station. The contract was awarded to S3 Tunnel Constructors, a Joint Venture composed of Skanska USA Civil Northeast, Schiavone Construction and J.F. Shea, in the amount of $337,025,000. Funding for this project consists of a combination of Federal Transit Administration grants and local funds provided by the New York State Transportation Bond Act of 2004 and the MTA Capital Program.
Mysore Nagaraja (pictured above), the head of capital construction for the MTA, seems pretty excited about the deal. “This contract paves the way for the first expansion of the subway system in more than fifty years. While the Second Avenue Subway has been talked about for years, it is now a reality, and you will soon see our construction teams hard at work on and under Second Avenue.” I don’t know how we’ll actually see the folks working under Second Ave., but hey, at least they’ll be there.
According to the MTA, a groundbreaking ceremony — the third of its kind for the Second Ave. subway — will be held in April. We’ll know when next week.
Amusingly enough, this announcement was totally timed to push the real estate news off the pages of the newspaper. The MTA”s PR machine went into overdrive after two straight weekdays of bad news. So they rushed the contract announcement by nine days. Why not? All the pieces were in place anyway.
The MTA is making real physical progress now on a subway line that should have been built during the La Guardia administration. And even more so than in the past, as SUBWAYBlogger noted, once they start, they won’t stop this time, real estate troubles and cost overruns be damned. It’s about time.