The New York City-area’s main transit agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, narrowed the field for a key component in the agency’s big construction program.

The MTA this week designated three teams to submit design-build proposals for construction of four new stations in the Bronx on a line that will, under other separately awarded contracts, provide access for Metro North commuters to the city's Penn Station.

The three teams consist of joint ventures Halmar International and Railworks; Skanska and ECCO III; and Tutor Perini and O&G;  Ove Arup, AECOM and Parsons, respectively, are attached as lead designer to the three teams.

The projects will also be one of several tests of New York State’s and MTA’s drive to upgrade the commuting infrastructure while bringing projects in on time and on budget.

The projects will also be one of several tests of New York state’s and MTA’s drive to upgrade the commuting infrastructure while bringing projects in on time and on budget.

MTA has reorganized and consolidated the construction operations into a single large unit in the last year, while the state legislature has expanded state and city use of design-build, seeking better results, innovation and—although it isn't outwardly mentioned by agency or state officials—risk transfer.

“The new MTA Construction & Development organization is moving quickly to execute the new $51.5-billion 2020-24 Capital Program,” MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber said in his statement. MTA is also “encouraging contractors to compete and bring us innovative strategies to deliver projects faster, better and cheaper.”

New Metro North
A part of a community presentation to Bronx residents about the locations of the planned new Metro North stations in New York City. Source: New York City Dept. of City Planning

Current MTA projects are especially interesting because the agency, under the control of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), has instituted new punitive measures that allow it to debar a contractor whose project comes in more than 10% over budget or 10% late.

The rule gives MTA complete discretion for enforcement irrespective of change orders or scope disagreements.

A consortium of New York State engineering and construction companies have filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of the measures.

In 2017, New York State committed nearly $695 million in its 2015–2019 capital budget for the new stations and new Metro-North transit service in the East Bronx, according to New York City’s planning department.

MTA’s Metro North line service to Connecticut currently has no stations in the Bronx and stops only at Manhattan’s Grand Central Station, on the east side of midtown. The new stations will be built along existing AMTRAK lines, which cross the Hell Gate Bridge into Queens and then will travel along existing Long Island Railroad lines to go all the way for the first time to Penn Station, on the west side of midtown, which is itself being rebuilt. The overall plan is called Penn Station Access.

The station project is foreseen as an important economic development initiative for the Bronx communities that will be served, connecting the neighborhoods with employment centers in Manhattan and Connecticut.

“This project is transformative for people who want to get from the East Bronx and Westchester to the West Side of Midtown Manhattan – likewise for those who want to access the East Bronx and job centers in Westchester and Connecticut,” said Lieber.

This story was corrected February 17. It mistakenly labeled the Penn Station Access projects as the East Side Access projects.