Home Asides Engineering consultant continues to warn of ‘moderate risk of delay’ to 2nd Ave. Subway

Engineering consultant continues to warn of ‘moderate risk of delay’ to 2nd Ave. Subway

by Benjamin Kabak

When last we checked in on the Second Ave. Subway, the MTA Board had just heard a presentation regarding delays that may cause the project to miss its projected December opening date. Last month, the agency’s Independent Engineering Consultant warned of a “moderate risk of delay” should key activities remain outstanding and behind schedule. Yesterday, after a gap of only six weeks, the IEC returned with more warnings for potential delays, but the MTA reiterated its plan to have the Second Ave. Subway open before the year is out.

For its part, the MTA says it is ready to move testing and commissioning staff into on-site locations as soon as possible and is working with contractors to address and resolve any items that could delay the revenue service start date. The MTA also plans to implement “lessons learned” from the delayed openings of both the Fulton Street. Transit Center and the 7 line extension, but the IEC is skeptical these efforts will be sufficient. Noting new and backlogged change orders, the IEC said that it “has observed that several key activities slipped their scheduled completion dates in the six weeks since the December 2015 CPOC report. In particular, delays to provision of permanent power at 86th St and 96th Streets are of most concern as they could potentially impact the start of testing and commissioning.”

The IEC has recommended the MTA institute weekly meetings with its contractors “to properly status key activities and identify critical delays for mitigation and recovery” and has urged the agency to “complete the new integrated project schedule by integrating the communications testing with the accelerated testing of station equipment installations.” In other words, speed up the project schedule or else testing requirements won’t permit the MTA to open the northern extension of the Q train to 2nd Ave. and 96th St. by the end of December. The next IEC update is due in March.

In other news tangentially related to the Second Ave. Subway, Disney announced last week that Star Wars VIII will arrive in theaters in December of 2017 rather than in May. Last month, the overwhelming majority of those who voted in my poll felt that Star Wars would open before the Second Ave. Subway, but that was when the movie was scheduled for a summer 2017 release. I wonder if those results would hold in light of the new release date and the IEC warnings. My guess is that the Second Ave. Subway will miss the December 2016 date but open by the spring of 2017. Either way, the MTA has a lot riding on the next 11 months, and Upper East Side residents are watching closely.

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SEAN January 26, 2016 - 1:27 pm Reply
Brooklynite January 26, 2016 - 1:39 pm

New South Ferry was late and over budget. Fulton Center was late and over budget. The 7 extension was late and over budget. SAS is late and over budget. East Side Access is late and over budget. Why is nobody being held accountable?

SEAN January 26, 2016 - 1:50 pm

It’s the American way except in a few places like Portland OR.

BDawe January 26, 2016 - 11:32 pm

Portland is only better in that the costs are lower. I doubt anyone was ever held accountable for WES, the 1000/day rider suburb-to-suburb commuter train that loses $20 per rider, or for the light rail lines that manage to have bus average speeds.

Portland is only impressive for building a lot, not building a lot that was terribly useful

adirondacker12800 January 26, 2016 - 11:44 pm

It’s difficult to get lots and lots of mass transit riders someplace half as dense as Staten Island. When the whole metro area is as big as Brooklyn.

Benjamin Kabak January 26, 2016 - 3:29 pm

Contractors suffer penalties if systems aren’t ready in time. Why MTA CC leadership is largely the same is likely more about ensuring continuity until SAS Phase 1 is completed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see turnover shortly thereafter.

Brooklynite January 26, 2016 - 3:41 pm

The same argument about continuity could be made regarding East Side Access, and by the time that’s done SAS Phase II will just be getting started. There’s always an excuse to keep the people who are clearly incompetent in their jobs, but at the end of the day something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

It can’t be only the contractors’ fault – if it were, MTA would be swimming in cash from all the penalties.

Jason January 27, 2016 - 1:33 pm

New and backlogged change orders sounds like the contractors don’t have to pay out crap due to the client itself.

From what I read how the LIRR’s Hillside Facility was brought into place. It certainly sounds like nothing has changed.

Beebo January 26, 2016 - 6:25 pm

Why wait, when you can start now?

Larry Littlefield January 26, 2016 - 5:13 pm

December 31 vs. next March 31 doesn’t matter much.

But 2017 vs. 2002 matters a great deal.

Chris January 26, 2016 - 5:54 pm

Wait, the MTA isn’t having weekly meetings with contractors?

mister January 26, 2016 - 6:49 pm

Instituting meetings with the contractors “to properly status key activities and identify critical delays for mitigation and recovery”? I can’t think of a less effective method to get things done.

Here’s the way to mitigate the potential for delay:

-A REAL schedule. Too often, the project schedule is not based upon the reality of what is happening on the site. I can’t say that this is happening on SAS, but this is a simple fix. MTACC’s own in-house scheduling forces should get information from MTACC consultant personnel monitoring the construction activities. They should then meet with the contractors’ schedulers as they already do and reconcile the current schedule.

-Have the contractors identify their biggest potential for delay. Determine whether these things can be accelerated.

-Get all the stakeholders invested now. MTACC is overseeing the work, but the key is to get those who are going to take ownership of the infrastructure invested in it now. OSS, Department of Code Compliance, RTO, Stations and the many maintenance groups who are going to accept this need to be a part of the process while it’s being completed. Oftentimes, they don’t get invited to get involved until the work is nearing completion, which creates headaches as the opening date nears.

Brooklynite January 26, 2016 - 7:03 pm

Hell, Transit Wireless wasn’t allowed into 34/HY before it opened, so they’re going to reopen the ceiling panels to put the antennas in. Notice the future tense – still hasn’t happened.

EN January 27, 2016 - 12:02 am Reply
Subutay Musluoglu January 27, 2016 - 9:48 am

The Second Avenue Subway Community Outreach team sent out an e-mail yesterday with the notification that there will be an increase in Saturday working hours over a three week period next month. The working hours on Saturday are presently 10 AM to 4 PM, and will be changed to 8 AM to 5 PM, an increase of 3 hours. This must be an attempt to make up time, and meet some of those critical deadlines if they have any hope of meeting the revenue service date in December.

AMH January 27, 2016 - 2:16 pm

Limited working hours are a huge driver of costs and delays. The UES needs to put up with a little noise if it saves a few hundred million.

Brooklynite January 27, 2016 - 4:16 pm

Now that all the digging is done isn’t most of the work underground, and thus not really that noisy for normal residents?

Tim January 29, 2016 - 6:48 am

I live on 80th, just south of the 83rd st entrance to the 86th st station.

There’s still a crazy amount of construction above ground going on for the entrances, so the whole stretch between 88th-82nd is still pretty ripped up and re-routed. The ancillary building and entrances are the big to-dos. The elevator shaft at 86th and 2nd is poking up above the ground though, you can tell that there is indeed a station coming soon.

Old New Yorker January 31, 2016 - 3:09 pm

Why would NYCTA Corporate Communications Director Marc Mednick want that railroad opened in the first place? He has nothing but contempt for the ugly and smelly people that ride it and prevent him from loading his precious bicycle on trains.

Benjamin Kabak January 31, 2016 - 4:08 pm

I’m going to ban you from commenting. If you’d like to clarify why you insist on these comments despite my repeated requests to stop, you can contact me. Otherwise these are, to the rest of us, seemingly baseless attacks that do nothing to advance any dialogue here.


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