Woodhaven SBS far from a reliable ride
by Larry Penner
Apr 04, 2017 | 3782 views | 1 1 comments | 361 361 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Over time, both the cost and timetable for completion of the proposed Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards Select Bus Service (SBS) project have grown.

Since Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg testified before the City Council in 2016, the project budget had doubled from $200 to $400 million.

She went on to announce that completion of the project has been moved back from 2019 to 2025.

And there is still no guarantee for U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) funding through the New Starts program for phase two of the project.

The MTA has successfully used the New Starts program to obtain billions to fund both the LIRR East Side Access project and the Second Avenue subway.

DOT's proposal for Woodhaven SBS will be directly competing against a proposal to fund the second phase of Second Avenue subway ($6 billion) and many other projects.

In fact, there are dozens of other potential New Starts projects being championed by many other Congress members. There will be fewer winners and many more losers.

Is Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to proceeding with the Woodhaven SBS project if federal assistance isn't secured? Will he re-allocate funding from other SBS projects to support increased costs for Woodhaven Boulevard?

The full build costs for the second phase are based upon planning initiatives with little design and engineering details that would validate actual construction costs.

No one will really know the full project costs until construction contracts for phase two are awarded. This may not happen until 2019 or later.

And USDOT completed the environmental review process in July 2015. Depending on the results of the ongoing public outreach, the agency might have to revisit the environmental finding determination.

DOT has an obligation for reporting any significant changes in scope. The process for completing any updated environmental report with USDOT could take several months or more.

Taxpayers, commuters, and elected officials have to ask if potentially waiting nine more years until 2025 before boarding the full Woodhaven Boulevard SBS is worth the fare.

Larry Penner worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation New York office.

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Pedro Valdez Rivera
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April 07, 2017
In fact Larry: This SBS project is one of the many public transportation projects that will be on the chopping block by the Trump Administration. I will be not surprised that Phase I of this project through implementation and operation will be started this Fall. However, as for Phase II, or the capital portion, in which you described in the letter, this phase will be scrapped altogether. To play devil's advocate, the question is, can the NYC DOT pay $400M in our own taxpayer money to do so? The NYC DOT is having a very bad reputation on completing these projects on time and on budget.