New York, NY –
The definition of "shovel-ready" is shifting. The federal government is giving transit agencies, including the MTA, more than a year to spend its federal stimulus money. WNYC's Matthew Schuerman has more.
REPORTER: House Democrats had wanted to give transit agencies just three months to commit stimulus grants to actual contractors, in order to jump start the economy. But Senators, and the transit agencies themselves, thought the short deadlines would be impossible to meet.
Last week, the Federal Transit Administration said it would give localities six months to obligate half of their money, and another six months after that to obligate the remainder.
In FTA parlance, "obligate" means simply getting federal approval that a particular project meets the government's criteria. It could well take another five or six months beyond that before shovels get into the ground.
The MTA will receive more than a billion dollars from the federal legislation. But it has not released a final list of projects or a timeline. For WNYC, I'm Matthew Schuerman.
Matthew Schuerman joined WNYC in December 2007 as the transportation and economic development reporter. He covered repeated financial crises at the MTA, the most severe transit cuts in decades, as well as the impact of the recession on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn and the World Trade Center redevelopment in Lower Manhattan. Since 2010, Schuerman has been an editor in the WNYC newsroom. In addition, he has recently reported a number of Sandy-related stories.