MTA Megaprojects: Behind Schedule and Over Budget

Monday, June 23, 2014 - 04:09 PM

Fulton Street Transit Center open sky light The Fulton Transit Center under construction, back in 2011 (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Back in March, the MTA said the Fulton Transit Center would open on June 26, which is this Thursday. But that was then. Now, the agency says testing of some key systems is not yet complete — and the subway hub needs another 60 to 90 days.

"Critical testing and commissioning of key systems is still not complete," said Patrick Askew, who is with the MTA's independent engineering consultant (IEC). "In addition, project has not yet met the standards for a code compliance certificate.” 

The delay, which had been hinted about last week, was formally announced at Monday's MTA committee meetings.

MTA engineer Uday Durg said the contractual completion date for the Fulton Transit Center is December 2014.

Which is also when the MTA says the #7 subway extension — originally slated to open by the end of the Bloomberg administration — will hopefully open. That project has had problems with its escalators, elevators and ventilation fans.

But the agency's IEC also threw some cold water on that start date and said February 2015 is more likely.

There's a third delay: East Side Access, which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Station, was originally slated to be done in 2009 and cost $4.3 billion. Now the MTA says it will be finished in 2022. Its new budget: nearly $10.2 billion.

But there's good news. The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway is on track to open in December 2016. At least for now.


Comments [8]

Ryan Ng from Queens, NY

Wasn't the Second Avenue Subway originally supposed to open in 2013? It's also late.

Jun. 28 2014 07:02 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

First of all, keep in mind that the MTA is a state agency, and I do pay taxes to them for living in downstate NY, so I do have a say on what they do just as much as the rest of you do. From my perspective, the majority of their funding actually does come from the tolls that those of us who live nowhere near any sufficient transportation and our forced to drive, because it's more efficient of getting around. As a matter of fact, when tolls are used for anything other than what they are placed on, the hikes go up at such high rates, which isn't in quarters like fares are. The original purpose of tolls was to pay off the bonds and be removed after, not be used as some revenue service. Honestly, there are ways to fix the MTA without pitting groups against each other, but that won't work because the anti-car fanatics will never accept this. I've always found it irony to hear from those who claim that driving is heavily subsidized when in fact their system is even more heavily subsidized. When you really look at it, are new station houses and transit centers really needed even if they don't give any improvement to where they are placed?

Jun. 24 2014 06:56 PM
Frank Ryle from Princeton, NJ

I miss Douglas Adams (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) at times like this "I love deadlines" He said - "I love the sound they make as they go whooshing by".
His answer to 'Life, the Universe and Everything was famously '42'. This, coincidently was the same as the number of steps in the 4th version of the PMBOK (The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) - he would have appreciated the irony. Sadly the 5th edition now has 47 steps and reflects an expanding project universe. I prefer 9 steps (Keeping Score style) - I hope we can return to a more simple approach to complex projects. The product may be indescribably complex but the journey doesn't need to be so - after all we have been doing Megaprojects for over 3,000 years.

Jun. 24 2014 12:42 PM

So, what else is new with the M.T.A these days? I just don!t think that this new delay that the M.T.A has announced in regards to these new transit projects, would have happened under the old Board of Transportation nobody I think in that agency would have stand for that type of nonsence the M.T.A is trying to pull today with these new transit expansion projects although, it is said that back then that, many many people wanted the old train "els" that the Board of Transportation tore down, to stay up until all of the new transit expansion projects were up and running. So to me, maybe the old Board of Transportation knew something there.

Jun. 24 2014 10:39 AM
wilj from Manhattan

Let's start openly and regularly tracking the new station under the James Farley Post Office while it's still a young project. No doubt we will be able to observe its completion date and budget slip over the coming years and decades.

Jun. 24 2014 09:29 AM
Eric F

"There's a third delay: East Side Access, which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Station, was originally slated to be done in 2009 and cost $4.3 billion. Now the MTA says it will be finished in 2022. Its new budget: nearly $10.2 billion."

I wonder if that informed Christie's decision to cancel ARC. Anyone? Bueller?

Jun. 24 2014 08:56 AM
Shepsl from Queens

I'm tired of hearing drivers whine about thinking they're the ones being hit up for the cost of mass transit. Every single rider AND taxpayer is being squeezed. And for what? The major benefit goes to suburban workers or people shuttling around Manhattan, while mass transit infrastructure where the huge majority of New Yorkers live and work is rotting away. Any private business that endlessly miscalculates costs and schedules the way the MTA does at the level it does wouldn't be allowed to survive, by simple laws of economics. But the public trough at which the MTA is endlessly allowed to feed no one is willing to monitor. What the MTA simply classifies as cost-tripling or quadrupling, multi-billion-dollar "overruns" and decades-long "delays" are allowed to continue unexamined, while new megaprojects are allowed to be started even in light of the MTA's inability to manage them or in light of it's unwise skimping on preventive maintenance -- which will wind up costing more unnecessary billions someday.

Jun. 24 2014 07:47 AM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

One of the main reasons for this is the way the management is acting. It's so easy to blame the John Samuelson and the TWU for this with their claims for better pay and conditions, but they actually don't get much of say on these projects. The real blame should be going to those at the top, and their wages are exponential compared to what the TWU makes. I feel another reason why they end up over budget can be by underestimating the costs. What really annoys me the most is who is footing the majority of the bill for their projects, and I have a feeling that it's not the riders that use it a lot. A good chunk of it comes from the tolls that we motorists are forced with, and they are increased a lot more constantly than fares are especially for being the cash cow here. I've always found it an irony that the riders always want the best system but they don't want to actually pay for it, which is why I feel that they are the ones who are getting the free rides here. Even if congestion pricing would pass, it will still be seen as a net money loser as the MTA would fail to collect revenue on it many choose to avoid it by other ways. I just feel that riders should agree to a modest fare hike to help the system they are actually using rather than looking at ways to find other groups to pay for it.

Jun. 23 2014 07:48 PM

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