|Re: MTA says East Side Access may cost a whopping $1 BILLION more (1157795)|
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Re: MTA says East Side Access may cost a whopping $1 BILLION more
Posted by Gold_12TH on Mon May 21 22:20:39 2012, in response to MTA says East Side Access may cost a whopping $1 BILLION more, posted by gold_12th on Mon May 21 18:57:04 2012.The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is predicting that its East Side Access project will not be completed until August 2019, nearly six years later than originally planned.
The new completion estimate was not entirely a surprise: MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota had hinted at a 2019 target date in a recent public appearance, and the most recent estimates by the Federal Transit Administration had predicted the project would be finished in 2018.
Mr. Lhota on Monday also unveiled a new projected cost for the project: $8.24 billion, up from the 2009 public estimate of $7.3 billion. The MTA will attempt to manage the project to a target of $7.88 billion, but will budget for the higher number out of caution, he said.
The new estimates were reached largely in accordance with the Federal Transit Administration, which has kicked in some $2.7 billion toward the project. Last week, the Department of Transportation's inspector general announced plans to conduct an audit of the East Side Access project's books. Mr. Lhota said that was not an unusual development, and said he welcomed the audit during a briefing for the press Monday.
The new timeline was calculated at 80% probability, Mr. Lhota said, meaning there is that chance the project will be delivered on or before the new completion date. Previous estimates relied on far rosier assumptions about the pace and complexity of the work, he said.
Previous deadlines have been "consistently blown, year in and year out," he said. "I think we've got to go with the right number. The public deserves that."
Driving the delays in the project—which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains to a new station deep beneath Grand Central Terminal, slashing commuting times for an expected 80,000 Midtown workers—are derived not just from technical complications but also cascading delays at the Harold Interlocking in Queens. There, MTA construction crews are rebuilding the nation's busiest passenger rail interchange, even as it continues to be used by some 48 Amtrak and 600 LIRR trains per day.
That has required cooperation among a number of players, including LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit, which stores about 40 trains each weekday in the rail yards near Harold, in preparation for the afternoon rush through Penn Station to New Jersey.
For now, MTA Capital Construction officials have struggled to balance the needs of construction—especially the rebuilding of the Harold Interlocking, including moving signals and catenary poles, doubling the number of rail switches and replacing almost 60,000 linear feet of track—with the desire of railroad leaders to continue operating trains. Other concessions will have to be made as the project continues, LIRR President Helena Williams said Monday.
Referring to a planned three-week service reduction in July, which will see three afternoon peak trains removed from the schedule to accommodate construction work, she said there will be more such interruptions.
"In a sense this is the beginning," she said, "where we do have to demonstrate some flexibility while maintaining our core commuter rail services."
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