The announcement by Staten Island/Brooklyn U.S. Rep Max Rose (D-NY-11), along with the state's U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), that they secured a $4.1-million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Ferry Boat Discretionary Grant for persistent leaking, roof drainage and joint damage repairs to the Staten Island Ferry St. George Ferry Terminal Roof was disappointing.
Rep. Rose, Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, along with New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg seem to have forgotten the past history for the St. George Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Why did NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry department need another $4 million FTA grant, which would pay for the same work twice?
A complete upgrade and renovation to the St. George Ferry Terminal, including a new roof at a cost of $136 million, was completed in 2005. This work was paid for by a federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan and capital grants provided by the FTA. Any homeowner or business person who pays for a new roof obtains a guarantee from the builder that it will last for a minimum number of years. The FTA has useful life requirements for any capital improvements that it pays for, usually based upon industry standards.
A new roof for the St. George Ferry Terminal should have lasted far more than 15 years. Did NYCDOT ever follow up to see who was responsible for these serious leaks, roof and joint damage which now require a $4.1-million fix? Was it the fault of any errors or omissions by the design and engineering consultant or the construction contractor who built the roof? If either was at fault, did NYCDOT take legal action to recover some of the costs? Any federally-funded asset more than $5,000 is required to have an asset maintenance plan to ensure it remains in transit service for the intended full useful life. Did NYCDOT have a maintenance plan and adequate resources to ensure the roof and all other components of the $136 million St. George Ferry Terminal will reach its full useful life? Have they been following the maintenance plan during the prescribed regularly scheduled intervals over the past 15 years? Why are 66,000 Staten Island Ferry commuters and 500,000 Richmond County, N.Y., taxpayers now being asked to pay for the same work twice?
Someone must be held accountable for this potential waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer generated dollars, which financed the previous $136 million project. The St. George Ferry Terminal roof should not have to be replaced 15 years later without consequences to those in charge.
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City Office of Management and Budget and New York City Independent Budget Office need to investigate. The U.S. Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Transportation and New York City Department of Transportation Inspector Generals also need to look into this issue.