New York State approves $27B MTA improvement plan

New York State’s Capital Plan Review Board last week approved a five-year, $27 billion plan for New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). It represents the largest infrastructure investment in the agency’s history, according to state officials. The capital program will renovate 31 subway stations and add 18 miles of track to a segment of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

The station projects will be built using the design-build delivery method. The MTA board will issue a Request for Statements of Qualifications (RSQ) on the renovations to the subway stations shortly, with the contracts to be awarded in the fall.

The renovations will include design enhancements like improved lighting and more intuitive signage that will make it easier for riders to navigate stations. The renovated stations also will provide improved communications access with cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi availability. The two-step RSQ process will identify design-build teams by early summer, and those companies will submit proposals for station renovation packages beginning in July.

New York’s Port Authority to get $10 billion remake

Photo of Port Authority by Rob Young licensed under CC BY 2.0

Manhattan’s 65-year-old bus terminal to be replaced, design deadline set for Sept. 2016

Building in Manhattan is always going to be expensive, and so there’s little surprise that replacing the world’s busiest bus station on the nation’s priciest island isn’t cheap. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced last week a design competition to replace its bus terminal, currently located at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue.

The project could cost as much as $10 billion.

The Port Authority two years ago formed a committee to study how best to replace the terminal, and that committee’s recommendation is to construct the new one just west of the current location, between 9th and 11th avenues. The committee also recommended keeping the current terminal operational during construction in an effort to lessen disruption to commuters as much as possible. The current Port Authority bus terminal served 66 million bus passenger trips in 2014, a figure that is above its operating capacity.

Last week’s vote by the Board of Commissioners set up an international design contest with a deadline of September 2016.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye described the effort to replace the terminal as “an unbelievably complicated project, with construction being done at the crossroads of the world, at the site of some of the most important and expensive real estate in the world.”

The study committee came up with three configurations for the new terminal, but the groups participating in the design competition will be free to build on those or to dismiss them totally. Designers are also able to go with the location proposed by the committee or to recommend an alternative.

While a financing mechanism hasn’t been determined yet, the current terminal location will likely be sold to developers upon completion of its replacement, and those funds will go toward the project’s considerable costs.

“We’ve taken an important first step today,” said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan of the board’s vote. “We still have a lot of work to do. We’re going to have to find the money for this project, and for other projects that are being presented to the board.”

The Port Authority also is planning to construct a $20 billion commuter-rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River and has requested the federal government fund half of that project.