Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2nd Avenue Subway: A Project At Risk

Updated on 3/16 and 3/23

The New York State Senate dealt a heavy blow to the MTA earlier this week by denying, for the current 2010-2014 Capital Program, both $770 million in additional funding and an increase in MTA's bonding authority.

More simply stated, the Senate's action has the potential to jeopardize the MTA's ability to complete the current phase of the Second Avenue Subway.

The wording in the Senate budget resolution (S.6258-C) that specifically pertains to the MTA reads as follows:
Metropolitan Transit Authority

Capital Projects (S.6253-B)
• The Senate denies the Executive’s proposal to appropriate $770 million to the MTA for capital projects.

Article VII Proposals (S.6258-B)
The Senate denies the Executive’s proposal to increase the MTA bond cap by $7 billion.

In response to these actions, MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Llohta sent the following letter to the Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Letter from MTA Chairman & CEO Joseph Llota to
New York State Senator Majority Leader Dean Skelos


In the short-term, this action may further delay the award of the 96th Street Station Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Architectural and Structural Finishes Contract, since this contract cannot be awarded without further funding.

Bids for this contract are currently scheduled to be opened in three weeks -- on April 5th.

So what's next?

The New York State Assembly (which approved both the additional funding and the increase in the debt cap in their budget resolution) and Governor Cuomo must hammer out a compromise budget -- and, in theory, by the budget deadline of April 1st.

If New York State's elected officials decide not to provide the MTA with the requested capital funding and increase in the debt ceiling, then the timeline of the project will most likely be further extended, putting at risk the current goal of providing revenue service by December 2016.

Stay tuned.

Updated 3/16/12

Senator Skelos wasted no time responding to MTA Chairman's Lhota's letter.

Letter from Senators Skelos, Fuschillo and Golden to
MTA Chairman & CEO Lhota


The letter, which was co-signed by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Fuschillo and Senator Marty Golden, a member of the MTA Capital Program Review Board, makes clear their concern -- that the requested 20% bonding increase ($7 billion) would result in the MTA being authorized to bond a total of nearly $42 billion.

Expressed in the senators' words:
Allowing a staggering $42 billion bonding debt level is of great concern, especially at the same time the MTA has many unresolved issues in its financial plan.
As reported by Dana Rubenstein of Capital, transit advocates from the Empire State State Transportation Alliance will to go to Albany next Tuesday to lobby Senate Republicans on the merits of capital MTA funding request.

It remains to be seen how this impasse will, or will not, be resolved over the next few weeks.

Updated 3/23/12

Both the additional capital funding and the bonding cap increase for the MTA appear to remain in limbo in Albany, as of today.

The New York State Senate met in session this past Tuesday. Among other things, they discussed a proposed law (S2467A) that would allow a portion of the motor fuel sales tax to be used to fund the NYS highway and bridge trust fund.

During the floor debate, the issues of funding for the MTA capital program came up and here's what was said:

Senator Daniel Squadron (representing parts of King and New York counties):
Based on the change in the MTA payroll tax and the funding from this legislature to the MTA, in recent years, where has funding for the capital program for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority coming from -- where is it scheduled to be coming from?
Senator Thomas W. Libous (Deputy Majority Leader, representing the counties of Broome, Tiogo and part of Chenango):
Mr. President, through you I can tell you that a couple of years ago -- Senator Squadron when you were in power -- you did have a capital fund for the MTA but there was no parity or capital fund for roads and bridges.
And we have always -- in this house -- working together bipartisanly, come up with in the 23 years that I've been been here, a 5 year plan for both the MTA and the road and bridge program.
However in the last several years the dedicated fund continues to be shortchanged as it pertains to roads and bridges.
So at this time, to be specific to Senator Squadron, I don't believe as we roll forward in this budget that there's a capital plan moving forward for either the MTA or the road and bridge program.
That's why I think it is very important, moving forward, to have this penny continue to go into the dedicated fund so we have something for roads and bridges.
(The 90-second exchange between these two senators can be seen on this YouTube link.)

The NYS Senate Joint Budget Conference Committee met yesterday for about seven minutes and it is clear from this meeting that there is no agreement, at this time, for the MTA's capital funding request.

The budget negotiations continue.


For further reading on this topic, I suggest:

Lhota: Senate budget shows wavering state commitment to transit
By Benjamin Kabak
2nd. Ave. Sagas - 3/14/12

"State Senate GOP Not Going MTA's (Budget) Way"
By Celeste Katz
NY Daily News - 3/12/12

"NY's budget: A short course in politics, numbers"
Associated Press - 3/24/12

Here's a listing of the recent additions
to the right-hand column of The Launch Box

"Dig Baby, Dig -- Building a Subway Line"
By Lara Glaswand, Scott Broock and Olivia Zaleski
The Daily - 3/10/12
Video (1:50)
An underground tour of 72nd Street station cavern

360 Photo: Second Coming
By Bryan Bedder
The Daily
- 3/6/12
A 360° panoramic image of the 72nd Street station cavern.
(very cool)


Jump to previous posting:
Contract One - Nearly Done
S3 Tunnel Constructors Nears Completion of Contract 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I blame Andrew Cuomo.

He should have vetoed the evil Republican gerrymander in the State Senate.

Now that the State Senate Republicans think that they're secure and unaccountable, they're back to pulling as much crap out of their asses as possible -- anything to hurt the state as long as it lines their pockets. Just like under Joe Bruno.

This is entirely Cuomo's fault. If he'd left it up to a judge, these evil people would be out of power at the November election.