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MTA says East Side Access may cost a whopping $1 BILLION more

Posted by gold_12th on Mon May 21 18:57:04 2012

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The MTA's enormous East Side Access project to link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal by 2019 may cost nearly $1 billion more than previous estimates, officials said Monday.

At a meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 's Capital Program Oversight Committee, Capital Construction president Michael Horodniceanu announced that revised estimates of the project peg the price tag as high as $8.24 billion -- nearly a billion more than previous estimates of $7.3 billion.

The costs are related to unexpected delays that Horodniceanu said were largely caused by competing rail infrastructure projects that are taking place at the same Long Island City rail yard where the East Side Access construction work is happening.

Horodniceanu said that by last year, East Side Access had hit "significant construction delays" that put unprecedented stress on the project's schedule and budget.

The work at the Harold Interlocking yard is, in particular, "much more complicated than we envisioned," he said.

MTA chairman Joseph Lhota announced at a Long Island Association meeting earlier this month that the complications could delay completion of the so-called megaproject until 2019 -- a year later than most recent MTA estimates.

MTA officials said they would take several measures to mitigate the cost overruns and delays, including temporarily reducing service on the LIRR as needed. But Lhota said it was important for the agency to be realistic about the project's future, rather than trying in vain to hit targets that have been "consistently blown."

"We have to go with the right number. The public deserves that," Lhota said.

It remains unclear how the MTA will pay for the cost overrun. The federal government is kicking in $2.6 billion toward the project. The MTA has borrowed for the rest. The agency is still hoping to get an additional $2.2 billion federal loan.

---NEWSDAY

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