2017-01-11 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Kicking The Can

To The Editor:

There is still more to the New Year’s Day opening of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway (“Grand Opening Fanfare Making The Impossible Happen,” John Toscano, January 4). There is only $1.035 billion in funding contained within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $27 billion Five Year 2015-2019 Capital Program to support preliminary work for Phase 2, north from 96th Street on to 125th Street. There is still the need of $4.965 billion for funding actual construction of Phase 2. These dollars will have to come from the next MTA Five Year 2020-2024 Capital Program. The MTA is counting on the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts program to provide $500 million to a $1 billion or more in additional funding. Add $15 billion more down the road for Phases 3 and 4 to complete the full length of Second Avenue Subway south, to Hanover Square.

The MTA hopes using “Fast Track” to allow construction of Second Avenue subway Phase 2 to start in 2019. Don’t count on it. The MTA will enter this project into the USDOT FTA New Starts program. How many years will it take to complete the NEPA environmental review process? Which neighborhood will want to host any entrance for both a tunnel boring machine, and removal of construction debris?

Will Phase 2 incorporate the stretch of tunnel previously built in the 1970s, between 99th Street and 105th Street? Based upon the master grant agreement between the MTA and USDOT FTA, if these portions of work do not go into transit use, Uncle Sam has the legal right to ask for its money back. NYCT since the 1970s has had to maintain and protect this unopened tunnel. The federal government has considered this work part of an active, ongoing project. If the MTA does not incorporate utilization of this tunnel, Washington may ask for reimbursement. The MTA could owe millions based upon current fair market value.

The goal would be to obtain a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) between the USDOT FTA and MTA for fully funding the project. MTA is in competition with its own operating agencies and against other transit agencies around the nation. There are 98 other senators and 434 congress members supporting their own New Starts projects. Why would USDOT FTA approve any FFGA without a guarantee from the MTA that a matching local share or $4.965 billion balance of funding to complete the project is secure and in place. The only proof is inclusion of this project within the next 2020-2024 Five Year Capital Program approved by both the MTA and Albany Capital Program Review Board. Previous MTA Five Year Capital Plans have been approved one or more years late. Based on past history, the next MTA Five Year Capital Plan may not be approved until 2021. The MTA would not risk advertising multi-billion construction project bids without secure funding being in place. Any procurement process could take six months to a year. Actual contracts for full construction could end up being awarded in 2022. If Phase 1 took 11 years to complete from the original 2007 contract award to 2017, Phase 2 might not be completed until 2030 or later.

Regardless of the funding source, Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 will end up competing against many worthy projects in the next MTA Five Year 2020-2024 Capital Plan.

Going back decades, the city, state and MTA have consistently kicked the can down the road every five years. As a result, coming to a consensus on what to fund in the next Five Year Capital Program Plan will become even more difficult. Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 will be the largest single project proposed for funding in the next Five Year Capital Plan. It could potentially consume almost 20% of the total program!

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Thank You Northwell

To The Editor:

Let me start off with the fact that I had surgery at North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, which is a member hospital of Northwell Health. This occurred on January 3rd, and is my fourth surgery at North Shore Hospital in about 18 months. My first was due to an aggressive prostrate cancer and was recommended by my primary physician, Dr. Doris Berland, and was operated on by my urologist Dr. Barry Goldberg of Advanced Urology in Manhasset. Due to expert care and his medical staff, I'm in remission. He did another procedure to correct another problem. My next two procedures were administered by Dr. Angelo Procaccino of Northwell Health of Great Neck for hernias. I found the nurses in the hospital kind, caring and concerned with what I was going through. I also found this true in the operating room with the doctors, nurses and medical personnel, who made me feel at ease and safe. I think not enough of us give credit to all those in the medical field for what they all do – caring and trying to save lives. In closing let me say to them, “kudos, for all you did for me.”

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

$125K Is Not Poor

To The Editor:

I really appreciated the editorials, and yes, it is up to all of us as individuals to make this year better. We must move forward, learning from our mistakes of the past and making goals for 2017 that will help all of us. Life is surprising, and we must not be hasty, but be patient, care for others and be active in politics, in righting a wrong and being a voice for the weak and the voiceless and helping those who are vulnerable, not having biases or anger towards others with differences.

I cannot understand why that LIRR train derailed in Brooklyn. The drivers or engineers must be checked, the trains must be checked and positive train controls must be installed.

Our governor wants millions to beautify the airports. Great, but what about homelessness, cutting food stamps, Meals on Wheels, senior services and doing more for disabled people? Making the city university and state schools free is great, but families earning less than $125,000 is not a good idea. Families earning $60,000 or less or even $50,000 or less is a good barometer. Families who have means should not take advantage of free college education.

The crime statistics for NYC paint a rosy picture, and again I think that they were exaggerated. We hear of murders and rapes daily.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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