Saturday, April 24, 2010

Feds investigating oversight of rail projects

Feds probe rail-project $$ bungle
By TOM NAMAKO Transit Reporter, NY Post

Federal investigators are probing how government money has been used in four of the city's largest transit mega-projects -- all of which are way over budget or years behind schedule.

The inspector general at the US Department of Transportation wants to determine if another federal agency botched its oversight of $7 billion in federal funds pumped in to the Second Avenue Subway, Fulton Transit Center, the new PATH terminal, and extending the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.

"These projects in total, have experienced billions in cost overruns and years of schedule delays," said assistant Inspector General Joseph Come.

The agency in charge of managing the money is the Federal Transit Administration.

"Our focus is waste, fraud and abuse -- what's going on," one federal official said. "Our role is to focus on the FTA, and if it's doing its job in respect to its oversight."

The sweeping review began on March 25, and is expected to last 10 months.

All of the projects are being built by the MTA except for the PATH terminal, which is managed by the Port Authority.

"We want to understand the money and follow everything down every rabbit hole," the official said.

Of the federal funds allocated to those projects, $700 million was in stimulus funding -- with a sizeable portion going to Fulton Street's glass dome.

The price tag on the PATH terminal alone jumped from $2 billion to $3 billion.

The MTA declined comment; the PA promised to cooperate with the probe.

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