Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced May 24 that the $27 billion 2015-19 MTA Capital Program has received final approval from the Capital Plan Review Board. The passage of this Capital Program marks the largest investment in MTA infrastructure in state history, and outlines five years’ worth of vital investments to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network.
“The MTA is the lifeblood of the New York metropolitan area’s transportation network and we must ensure it has the capacity to meet the travel demands of the next generation and fuel one of the largest economies on the globe,” Governor Cuomo said. “By investing in the most robust transportation plan in state history, we are reimagining the MTA and ensuring a safer, more reliable and more resilient public transportation network for tomorrow.”
This year, the state committed to $8.3 billion in funding to the MTA’s $27 billion Capital Plan. This investment, when combined with existing efforts, will purchase more than 2,340 buses and 1,450 subway cars to the system; advance an initiative to build four new Metro-North stations in underserved areas of the Bronx and bring Metro-North service to Penn Station; begin the extension of the Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem; continue the project to enhance LIRR performance by adding a second track along 18 miles between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; renovate and revitalize stations; an accelerated plan to create a new fare payment system to replace the MetroCard; and continue building the East Side Access project so that LIRR riders will be able to travel into Grand Central Terminal. In addition to the $27 billion the CPRB approved, the MTA’s Capital Program includes nearly $3 billion in self-funded bridge and tunnel improvement and repair projects financed by MTA Bridges and Tunnels.
The Governor also announced that the MTA is moving forward with a plan to renovate 31 subway stations throughout the New York metropolitan area – a key aspect of his plan to reimagine the MTA for the 21st century. This week, the MTA Board is expected to approve a Request for Statement of Qualifications to begin identifying design-build teams to undertake the massive renovation program.
“Today marks a major step forward for the MTA, and the people of New York,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast. “With historic levels of funding through the capital plan, we have the resources and support we need to fulfill the Governor’s mandate to renew, enhance and expand our transportation infrastructure. We’ll be taking the Governor’s lead by employing strategies that speed construction – such as design-build contracts – while at the same time introducing the latest technologies across the system, more intuitive wayfinding at our stations, and a host of other amenities. And, as always, we’ll continue to fulfill our core mission of ensuring the safety and reliability of the entire system.”
The station renovation initiative will include a wide range of innovative designs to enhance the customer experience, including dramatically improved lighting and more intuitive signs to make it easier for customers to navigate stations. The renovated stations will also offer amenities such as cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi and new art.
The RSQ is the first step in a two-step process in which the most qualified teams are identified and shortlisted. After a group of pre-qualified design-build teams have been identified by early summer, teams on the shortlist will be invited to submit proposals on all subsequent station renovation packages beginning in July.
The first contract is expected to be awarded in the fall. Makeover work at the selected stations is expected to be completed in six to 12 months, and the work at most of the 31 stations will be completed by December, 2018. The 31 stations included in the Station Renovation Program build upon a larger campaign designed to improve the customer experience that will include component and renewal work at more than 170 other stations.
The MTA also announced the advancement of key contracts for the design and construction of the final phase of the Long Island Rail Road’s Double Track project, which will dramatically increase capacity of the Ronkonkoma Branch along 18 miles between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma by adding a second track. The addition will allow the LIRR to provide more frequent off-peak service to the Ronkonkoma Branch in both directions and improve reliability and on-time performance, increasing flexibility and reducing delays associated with service disruptions.
A design-build contract valued at up to $59.7 million will be awarded to Skanska-Posillico II (JV) to design and construct 7.4 miles of track between Farmingdale and Central Islip. A related $44.8 million design-build contract will be awarded to Ansaldo STS USA, Inc. to build a new design and signaling system that will use computer-based train control software to better coordinate train movement when the second track is activated. Completion of the project is targeted for the end of 2018.
At the direction of the Governor, the LIRR is using design-build contracts – in which a single team of contractors is responsible for both designing and building an entire project –to ensure that coordination is seamless, and that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame.
“When the Double Track project is completed, the LIRR will be able to expand service, reduce congestion-related delays and deliver dramatically enhanced service to its customers,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “The simple fact is that to have better train service, you have to have more tracks, and Long Islanders are eager for this project to go from concept to reality.”
Construction work is already in progress. By the time the entire project is completed, the LIRR estimates Double Track will have injected close to $100 million into the Long Island economy.
The completion of Double Track is also dependent on finalizing other elements of the overall work plan. Double Track is one of seven major LIRR construction projects subject to an innovative Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The unions signed an agreement that will result in an estimated direct labor savings of over $6 million or about 11 percent of the total labor cost of these capital projects. The pact also provides opportunities for minorities and women to enter the trade union apprentice program and includes non-discrimination provisions in union hiring hall and job placement practices.
Ridership on the LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch is more than 48,000 each weekday. With just one track along most of the 18-mile route between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, the LIRR can operate a limited number of trains and lacks operational flexibility in the event of a disruption. If one train becomes disabled, all other trains (east and west) have no way around the problem. The construction of the Double Track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma will also support Long Island-wide resiliency by enabling the LIRR to provide better Main Line Service options in conditions where either the Montauk Branch or Port Jefferson Branch is compromised because of severe weather.