Big projects call for big changes at the MTA

Penney Vanderbilt and KC Jones: All About Railroads


Day-to-day subway delays are emblematic of far larger institutional troubles that plague the MTA.

Take the costly quagmire known as the Second Avenue Subway. It’s the story of how not to do a major transportation project. In its saga are many lessons, and an opportunity to make significant changes in how our transportation agencies think about, plan, pay for and execute massive capital improvements. These are culture changes that could improve the day-to-day commute as well.

The effort to extend the subway up and down Second Avenue is important. But a report from the Regional Plan Association details a dark reality beneath shiny goals. First proposed in 1919, the project didn’t start until 2007. On the first phase, the MTA spent eight years and $4.5 billion, far more per mile of track than similar projects in Los Angeles and Paris. The second phase, extending the line to 125th Street…

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