Home MTA Economics Despite reports, MTA mum on stimulus plans

Despite reports, MTA mum on stimulus plans

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the last few days, we’ve talked a lot about the MTA’s stimulus plans. Backed by statements by MTA CEO and Executive Director Elliot Sander, we explored the revival of the Fulton St. dome. Spurred on by idle speculation, on Monday, we contemplated the fate of the 7 line extension.

Now, according to one report, the agency may have something of an official wishlist. The MTA, however, maintains that this list is simply a recycled summary of projects and that the authority’s planners will not publish a planned list of stimulus projects until and unless the package is approved by Congress.

Matthew Sollars, a reporter with Crain’s New York, reported on the MTA’s alleged wishlist on Tuesday afternoon:

Sander said last week that the authority would spend $497 million from the federal stimulus package to complete the Fulton Street Transit Center in Manhattan. But the agency expected to receive more than $1.5 billion if the package is passed as it stands now, and while it says other mega-projects like the Second Avenue Subway will get funds from the stimulus a large amount of money remains for upgrading dilapidated stations and other lower-profile projects.

Many of these projects were cut from the authority’s capital budget last summer when the Wall Street collapse first started. Some of the projects on the list include $34 million to replace the “gap fillers” on the 4, 5, and 6 lines at the Union Square station and roughly $120 million to rehabilitate 10 subway stations in Brooklyn…

The stimulus money would also be used to prevent the chaos caused by flooding during a massive rainstorm in 2007. The MTA plans to spend $47 million to install public announcement systems in 43 stations throughout the subway network that do not have them. During the 2007 floods, riders piled up on platforms and agents at the stations could not make announcements saying the trains weren’t coming.

According to a list of projects being passed around by transit advocates last week, the authority will also spend $200 million to install raised ventilation grates and bike racks in Queens and Manhattan, aimed at preventing future floods. An MTA spokesman says that figure is too high.

It’s easy to see why many think the MTA’s stimulus list stems from these pre-existing plans, but this is simply isn’t the case, according to Jeremy Soffin, the authority’s press secretary. In an e-mail to me on Tuesday in response to my post about the 10th Ave. station stop on the 7 line extension, Soffin said that “a final list will only be determined when there is a final bill.” Mostly, he noted, the MTA has a list of potential projects, and the breadth of the work will depend upon the amount the city receives in the final package. Soffin said:

We are grateful for the work of Senator Schumer and Congressman Nadler to increase funding for public transportation. We continue to maintain and update a list of projects that could be funded by the stimulus. We have proposed a long list of projects, which will be pared based on the final amount of the stimulus and the limitations set on the money by the legislation. Potential projects include some deferred from the current capital program, including some subway and commuter rail station work and maintenance of key infrastructure (shops, interlockings, substations, yards), purchase of subway cars and flood mitigation grates, and funding for mega-projects (Fulton Street, East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway).

It would of course be a boon for the MTA if they can receive funding to knock many of these projects off of the “to-do” list, but the overall impact of the Ravitch Report should not be forgotten. Stimulus spending is great for all, but the MTA needs a financial plan too. While transit watchers seem to be counting their stimulus chickens before the plans hatch, we can’t lose sight of the long-term problems facing the MTA.

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Joe G February 4, 2009 - 7:11 am

This is both great and bad news. It’s great because there are important, tactical capital improvements that need work (one can assume this is the type of stimulus the govt wants). And those can be covered wholly by this package. But the big ticket projects are still unfunded, and there is no $$ for those. While I desperately want to see these funded, I really hope the MTA doesnt go into further debt, and use this stimulus to not address the larger structural financing problems. Indeed my biggest worry is that the stimulus, while helpful, does not provide the incentives to fix those larger problems.

Boris February 4, 2009 - 9:55 am

I heard on the radio this morning that “federally funded” projects like the SAS and East Side Access are ineligible for stimulus funds. Confirm/deny?

RJF February 16, 2009 - 5:12 pm

Hopefully no more taxpayers money will be wasted on Forest City’s AY project. Hasn’t over a billion already been thrown away? And, has anybody thought was a disaster area Brooklyn would be if this project was built. Those who have been paying attention will note that FCE is much better at getting taxpayer subsidies than they are at building or maintaining properties. Check this little copy and paste from “neulandlord.com.” BTW, Forest City is now rated the WORST landlord in the country. Now please read below.


When you don’t have squat in a Bucket, Saturday, 14 February 2009

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Property Rating 1.0

To whom it may concern:

I live in housing project called Pine Valley at the Air Force Academy and this property is managed by none other than Forest City. I have lived in my home for less than 7 months and have had 3 floods and the company still has refused to replace the flooring. The company is also telling residents that their homes have been tested for asbestos when according to the state health inspector no homes were inspected because they are not scheduled for demolition. Historical reports will show that these homes were built between 1958 and 1978 and were primarily constructed with asbestos construction materials. Yesterday my plumbing collapsed spewing gallons of fecal matter ridden water throughout my bathroom and my hall. This water got into the air ventalation piping in the basement and sprang a leak, not only did this take place with one pipe the septic pipe also sprung a leak. It took over two and a half hours for my toilet to be repaired in this time I need to deffocate but no neighbors were home and I was too embarassed to dig a hole somewhere outside to “cop a squat”. My wife told me to get a trash bag and a bucket and make do which I did in a corner on the floor in my basement, squatting on a bucket because this is what Forest City thinks is adequate for me as a United States Air Force Airman.

Property Information
Street Address: 6650 D East Primros
City: USAF Academy
State: Colorado
Zip Code: 80840
Size: 3 bedrooms
Property Type: Residential

Just how far can $1.3 billion go? :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog February 18, 2009 - 1:39 am

[…] down by a few hundred million based upon the formulas, but in the end, it should fall short of the anticipated $1.5 billion upon which we were counting two weeks […]


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