Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two big MTA capital projects face delays

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New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is struggling with physical obstacles and financial constraints as it pursues construction of both the Second Avenue Subway (phase 1) and its Long Island Rail Road East Side Access (ESA) project to Grand Central Terminal.

MTA reportedly has completed an analysis of the projects’ respective work schedules and budgets. Based on that, the completion date for the $4.4 billion first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, running from 96th Street to 59th Street, has been extended from June 2015 to at least December 2016, and more likely the summer of 2017. 

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East Side Access, designed to give LIRR a second Manhattan terminal to better serve riders headed to and from Manhattan’s East Side without transferring to or from subway service, would commence operations in September 2016, instead of February 2015.

Given the tortured history of the Second Avenue Subway, a project that has struggled to become reality for decades, reaction to the news was muted. "It will not come as shock to the American people that the Second Ave. subway is behind schedule," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a New York-based advocacy group. Russianoff added sympathetically, “It's a big complicated project. I think part of this is bowing to the economic realities of what money is available and when."

The $6.3 billion East Side Access project, combined with the$4.4 billion Second Avenue Subway effort, accounts for more than two-thirds of the $15 billion targeted by MTA Capital Construction for five major projects. One of the five, the $500 million rehabilitation of the South Ferry Terminal subway stop in lower Manhattan, opened in March.