MTA and DOT Deny Stalling Stimulus Money Rollout
The MTA is claiming it “moved far more quickly than required or planned to put federal stimulus (ARRA) funds to work,” despite a State Comptroller report claiming that current spending on city transportation represents only a tenth of one percentage of statewide expenditures.
The report, released in late January, says the MTA has spent only $857,000 in stimulus funds as of Jan. 15, 2010, whereas the state has spent $704 million.
As of Jan. 15, 2010, the report states, the MTA spent no money on the two projects expected to receive the bulk of its earmarks, the Second Avenue Subway and Fulton Street Transit Center.
The State Comptroller’s figures also revealed that the MTA had spent only $39,000 of the $10.9 million of stimulus funds it received for a bridge replacement on South First Avenue over the MetroNorth Railroad.
But the MTA is arguing that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandated awarding, not spending, half of its stimulus funds by Aug. 31, 2009.
The agency claims it surpassed that goal by putting 90% of contractors’ awards ($886 million of the $1.075 billion) in place, and says the money will be spent in the coming weeks when material is ordered, equipment is rented and workers are hired.
“As these actions are taken in the coming weeks, expenditure of the funds that have been awarded will naturally proceed at a faster pace,” according to an MTA statement.
The MTA claims that it will meet the expenditure deadline of May 1.
New York Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said his organization understands the difference between the MTA’s awarding and expenditure of the money, and the report was never meant to be “finger pointing.”
“We tried to explain the State Comptroller’s numbers,” Anderson said. “What they showed was that the agencies are moving in the right direction, but it is slower than everyone would like.”
The Comptroller’s report says the New York City’s Department of Transportation also has spent no funds, but it has awarded a $4.3 million to rehabilitate the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge.
NYCDOT, however, says that the agency has opened the coffers for two Staten Island projects, claiming it spent $16 million (of $175 million allotted) to replace the 60-year-old bus ramps at the St. George Ferry Terminal and over $6.7 million (out of $6 million) at the Ferry Asset Maintenance / Dry Docking Project.
The agency has not begun its stimulus-funded rehabilitation work on the Brooklyn Bridge or the Bruckner Expressway, the report says.
According to the Comptroller’s report, the New York State Department of Transportation spent nearly all of the $857,000 in transportation sector expenditures. More than three-quarters of that amount went to expanding and upgrading Staten Island’s park Park & Ride facilities.
However, NYSDOT officials note that those figures may be unreliable because construction began months before bills were submitted for payment.