Over the last three years, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to post good news about the Fulton St. Transit Center. Originally set to be completed two years ago but now planned for 2014, the massive Lower Manhattan project is now seven years and 100 percent over budget. Yet, earlier this year, when MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu promised an on-time completion date, I believed him.
Those comments from Horodniceanu came four months ago. Although there is still plenty of time for the project to yet again fall behind schedule, the latest dispatches from the MTA present us with a glimmer of hope. The MTA earlier this week told Community Board 1 that the Transit Center is still on time, and with stimulus funds supporting the project, it is in fact humming along quite nicely.
“We’re doing very well in terms of progress on the construction,” Uday Durg, the MTA’s project manager, said this week. “We have the funding for those projects and we’d like to use the current market conditions to get them built as quick as we can.”
Matt Dunning from The Tribeca Trib had more:
Often touted as the “Grand Central Station of Lower Manhattan,” the new Fulton Street Station will be partially funded by $424 million in federal stimulus money, a little less than 40 percent of the $1.1 billion grant that the agency was first promised from the federal government. A year prior, it was revealed that the original price tag of $755 million had almost doubled. Without the federal money, the station’s unique oculus design would have been scrapped.
Since the money was delivered in August, Durg said the agency was able to finalize several contracts earlier than expected, including deals for construction of a new mezzanine and elevators for the A/C and J/M/Z platforms, as well as new entrances to the station on Williams and Dey Streets. Those projects are expected to be complete between May 2011 and March 2013.
Crews will finish later this year pouring the foundation for the new station’s vaunted main concourse, which will encompass a balcony of retail stores and restaurants and topped with an angled, cone-shaped dome to allow natural light to reach even the lowest levels of the complex. The next part of the station to be returned to everyday service, Durg said, would be the northbound platform of the Cortlandt Street R/W station, closed in 2005 due to work on the adjacent World Trade Center site.
While the cost of this project is questionable considering its final utility — after all, does Lower Manhattan really need Grand Central without an airport connection? — this development is definitely good news for a delay-plagued project. Barring any unforeseen troubles, the MTA should be able to wrap up the Fulton St. Transit Center by 2014.
At some point, Jay Walder should tell us what exactly went wrong here. This hub should have been finished two years ago, and now we’re celebrating the news that it’s still on pace to open in four years. For now, though, we’ll just recognize that Horodniceanu is sticking to his word. If he can keep this up for a few more years, perhaps the MTA really can turn over a new capital construction leaf.