Generally, when an expansion plan receives a contract bid and this bid is sent to a governing committee for approval, the approval is generally a sure thing. While those in charge — in this case, members of MTA’s finance committee — may voice objections during debate, the end result is generally an all-or-nothing vote. But the 7 line extension plans are proving to be a different beast as MTA Vice Chairman Andrew Saul voted against approving the bid and sending it to the full board for a vote.
In the world of the MTA Capital Construction, this is a very big deal, and while the truncated 7 line extension will probably still pass today’s full board vote, the session promises to be explosive. NY1’s Bobby Cuza has more on Saul’s decision:
Even though there was no competition, agency negotiators announced Friday that they were happy with the price they worked out for the tunneling work – about $1.1 billion, or just barely over budget. But the agency didn’t expect board members to criticize the deal at a committee meeting Monday.
“I can’t, for me as a fiduciary here, sit here and go ahead and approve a contract for over $1.1 billion of state money, or city money, or both, without having competitive bids,” said MTA Vice Chairman Andrew Saul.
Saul, the lone member to vote against approval for the contract, was not alone in expressing his dismay. Andrew Albert, not an MTA board member but a vocal transit advocate nonetheless, was none too pleased about the plans to eliminate the station at 10th Ave. and 41st St. entirely. “More [need] exists now around the 10th Avenue station than around the Javits Center station. Are we saying that conventioneers are more important than our own residents? I hope we’re not saying that,” Andrew Albert, of the NYC Transit Riders Council, said to Cuza.
But while the MTA board debates the contract today, City officials are working to secure funds for that station at 10th Avenue. Maybe we shouldn’t lose hope yet for this plan. According to Eliot Brown of The New York Sun, Mayor Bloomberg will try to cajole the state into forking over another $450 million to secure the station shell at least. Even this month would drastically reduce the cost of building another station on the extension in the future.
So now we wait. In an ideal world, the MTA board wouldn’t approve a contentious contract for a project that received just one bid. But in reality, that outcome seems unlikely, and we’ll be left with a flawed contract and an incomplete extension that will bypass the area that needs a subway station the most. Who goes to the Javits Center anyway?
As for a completion date, don’t expect the 7 line extension to materialize over night. Newsday reports that the line is due for completion in 2013 while NY1 says 2014. Anyone want to bet that something pushes this date back further into the 21st Century?