Home Fulton Street For Fulton St., a deadline and budget but no dome

For Fulton St., a deadline and budget but no dome

by Benjamin Kabak


Will this be the final look for the Fulton St. Transit Center? Stay tuned.

The Fulton St. complex is a mess right now. The Cortlandt St. station on the BMT Broadway (N/R/W) line has been closed for nearly three years as work has progressed at a snail’s pace, and the Transit Center hub, originally scheduled for completion two years ago, has been delayed seemingly forever.

Yesterday, though, during the MTA Board’s Real Estate, Planning and Capital Construction Committee meeting, Capital Construction president Michael Horodniceanu proclaimed a firm deadline and a budget for Fulton St. According to Horodniceanu, construction on the complex will wrap up in 2014. The total cost will come in at $1.4 billion or twice its original projected cost. And the Transit Center’s dome — subject to much will it or won’t it debate — will be, well, something distinctive.

In a bold move, Horodniceanu guaranteed an on-time — at least for 2014 — delivery of the project. He first proclaimed the original 2007 deadline, set ten years ago when the MTA first broke ground at Fulton St., “totally unrealistic” and then said, “What I present today, I stand by. I expect you to hold me accountable to it.”

According to the plans presented yesterday, the Transit Center will still sit under a three-story building with 25,000-square feet for retail. The MTA has, however, scraped plans for a glass dome. For now, officials are simply promising something that will let in natural light to fill the glass-enclosed building. As expected, the dome was shelved because of costs.

Originally projected to run $750 million, the Hub will come in at $1.4 billion. The MTA has the money though for the project. Of the total, the original federal grant will cover $847 million, the MTA will kick in $129 million of its own money and stimulus dollars will cover the final $424 million.

Despite these above-ground concerns, though, work has continued underground, and the MTA set a series of deadlines for the complex. Looking ahead, riders on the A and C lines at Broadway/Nassau St. can expect 40 months of construction with service delays on nights and weekend.

Downtown Express, linked above, runs through a series of future deadlines: The Cortlandt St. station’s northbound platform will open in December with the southbound side closed until 2011. A new entrance on William St will open in 2011 as well. In 2012, the Dey St. entrance will open and the 4/5 station will get an overhaul. The work on the A/C mezzanine won’t wrap up until the spring of 2013.

I’m almost tempted to say, “So that’s that for the Fulton St. Hub,” but it’s not nearly that simple. The MTA has yet to choose a design for the top of its glass station house, and while that part of the project will be the proverbial icing on the cake in terms of projected completion dates, architectural decisions are never easy.

So the clock is ticking. Who knows how long Horodniceanu has as the head of Capital Construction? He’s been far more willing than prior heads to take public responsibility for missed deadlines and delayed projects and should, when the MTA rescue package dust settles, retain his position. He has five years to deliver a project that should be opening this year. He has $1.4 billion with which to work. The race is on.

To grasp the true scope of the bureaucratic mess surrounding the project, read back through the topic’s archives. For images of what the Hub and Transit Center will look like sans oculus, mosey on over to the Lee Harris Pomeroy page with some architectural renderings.

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A-W May 21, 2009 - 9:55 am

Not that this announcement was unexpected, but some of these dates are astounding. 2012 for the Dey Street entrance? 2011 for the S/B Cortlandt Street platform? I understand that WTC construction is partially to blame, but that means that Cortlandt Street will have been partly/entirely closed for six years.

It seems to me that the pace of work (at least on Fulton) has slowed down recently, probably because of the lag in contract awards. The first part of the project (renovation of the Fulton Street 2/3) and the second part (new southern entrances for the 4/5) were reasonably on time, but it has been downhill from there.

At least they are opening the new parts as they completed…

Marc Shepherd May 21, 2009 - 12:51 pm

I believe the Cortlandt St delays are due to WTC construction and have nothing to do with the MTA. But the delays for the rest of the project are unbelievable even by MTA standards: 2014, for a project that was once expected to be completed in 2007.

Rhywun May 21, 2009 - 2:24 pm

Yeah, it’s pretty unbelievable. Those sites should be *crawling* with workers, but every time I pass by I don’t see very much activity at all. And I’ve been waiting for that damn Cortlandt Street station for years. That would shave 10 minutes off my commute!

petey May 21, 2009 - 4:02 pm

that looks nothing like the beautiful thing calatrava designed (http://curbed.com/uploads/2008_4_calatrava.jpg). for a bit there i was actually moved by what was supposed to be coming: the new penn station, the new fulton street station, and now it’s all going to look like unambitious dreck.

Benjamin Kabak May 21, 2009 - 4:09 pm

That looks nothing like what Calatrava designed because it’s a different project. Calatrava has designed the Port Authority’s PATH hub at the World Trade Center site. That is moving ahead mostly as planned. The Fulton Street Transit Center and its above-ground hub is not the same thing.

petey May 21, 2009 - 4:11 pm

oh, ok then.

Josh Karpoff May 21, 2009 - 5:05 pm

Both of the Fulton Transit Center AND the Calatrava designed WTC PATH hub are total boondoggles.
Any 9/11 lower Manhattan project funding seems to be cursed.

Oh and NJT just awarded the first contract for the ARC Tunnel project this week, so we can expect several decades of missed deadlines and over budget announcements for that project too!

I really wish someone would sit down, analyze all of the big regional transit project, figure out the root causes of these delays and cost overruns on all of these projects and work with the project managers to find a way around these problems in the future.

Like wouldn’t a big public sector design and construction management conference be a good start?

AlexB May 21, 2009 - 10:39 pm

Aaargh!!! $3.2 billion for the PATH terminal, 12 years after 9/11, and ONE BLOCK AWAY, $1.4 billion for the Fulton St hub, 13 years after 9/11. Adding .3 billion for the temporary station and the whole Fulton St/WTC complex comes to a cool $5 billion

I love both these buildings, and I am excited to think I might one day see them, but the whole thing makes me want to beat my head against the wall. For $7 billion in midtown, we will get a huge brand new eight track train station a hundred and forty feet below grand central, decreased travel time for LIRR commuters, more capacity, and convenient connections between the LIRR and MNR. For $5 billion downtown, we will get the same capacity as we had before 9/11, plus some pedestrian passageways, and some really really cool shiny stuff.

Please make me understand. Why did no one say: Let’s spend $7B and build one super cool shiny transit center, some new passageways, an extension of the LIRR to the WTC, and a new combined PATH/LIRR station? I think this is very comparable in scope to the East Side Access project. For bit more, they could have thrown in the PATH/6 connection. You could have gotten almost anywhere from the WTC; it would be worthy of that immense Calatrava building.

Now that would rock.

Alon Levy May 22, 2009 - 3:36 am

If New York City has commuter rail that gets you to where you want to go, then the Apocalypse will come.

Scott E May 22, 2009 - 8:24 am

Well, I’m going to guess that it wasn’t supposed to cost $5 billion when the decisions were made. If they knew the real cost, it might have been different.

Besides, I heard that Fulton St. was originally envisioned as an LIRR terminus as well as a subway hub. We all know now that there is no longer a planned LIRR connection — I don’t know if “future provisions” are included in the Transit Center design or not. But that’s partially why it was such a grand structure to begin with.

(The other reason is because, in the wake of 9/11, someone thought we needed really shiny things downtown. Not just shiny, but really shiny).

petey May 22, 2009 - 8:49 am

“the PATH terminal … and ONE BLOCK AWAY … the Fulton St hub”

so that’s why i though they were all one thing

Firming up the Fulton St. schedule :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog June 12, 2009 - 1:06 am

[…] toward a steadier short-term future, Capital Construction President Micheal Horodniceanu issued an aggressively bold schedule for the oft-delayed Fulton St. Hub. He guaranteed a 2014 completion date for the project now nearly […]

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[…] the MTA still doesn’t know what the Fulton St. Transit Hub will look like or exactly when it will open, something is happening at the long-vacant lot at the corner of Fulton […]


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