The MTA’s inability to provide a specific date for start of service to Grand Central Madison other than by the end of 2022 is dishonest. There is a specific agreed upon revenue service date in both the amended Federal Transit Administration Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with MTA along with the current project construction recovery schedule. It is dishonest for the MTA to claim that the project is proceeding on schedule and within budget. Since 2006, this project has had numerous construction recovery schedules to make up for lost time. In 2022, the project is proceeding under the most recent current project construction recovery schedule. The budget has increased on several occasions from $6.3 billion to over $11 billion in recent years.
Each time the project has been delayed since 2006 from the FTA FFGA agreed upon 2013 completion date the MTA has to keep its own construction Management Firm, Independent Engineering Project Management Oversight firm, Office of Capital Construction, LIRR Force Account and other employees on the payroll assigned to the East Side Access (ESA) for nine more years than originally forecasted in 2006. How much has all of this cost the MTA during the life of this project?
There will still be outstanding work remaining, when service begins to Grand Central Madison, be it the end of December 2022 or some time in early 2023. What is the dollar value, number of contracts and specific work that remains to be completed by February 2023 or later?
How many of the 72 ESA contracts have already been or will be closed out by the time service starts?
How many contracts will still the need completion of all contract punch list items (to insure the contractors built the asset to meet design and engineering contract specifications), receipt of all asset maintenance manuals for any project components worth $5,000 or more under each of the remaining open contracts, payments for outstanding bills and release of contract retainage to contractors.
Some contractors may submit claims for additional reimbursement for work based upon delays attributed to insufficient track outages or force account support from both Amtrak and LIRR.
It may be several more years before all 72 project contracts are closed out. At that point, ESA will really be 100 percent complete. Only then will all 72 contracts be closed out and the final true project cost be known..
Time will tell if commuters and taxpayers will see all of the benefits from this project promised by elected officials, MTA and LIRR Presidents.
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer, who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road, MTA Bus along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ.