OP-ED: Are MTA and NYCDOT still serious about $258 million Woodhaven Boulevard Phase 2 Select Bus Service Project?

April 5, 2024
The previous construction start date for Phase 2 of the project, along with receipt of an approved Small Starts FFGA in 2023 has come and gone, while estimated costs have continued to increase.

There continue to be problems with the advancement of New York City Department of Transportation's (NYCDOT) proposed $258 million Woodhaven Boulevard Phase 2 Select Bus Service Project located in Queens, N.Y. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) New York City Transit would be the actual operator.

According to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation March 2024 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations For Federal Fiscal Year 2025 (October 1, 2024 - September 30, 2025) Capital Investment Grant New Starts Core Capacity Program prepared by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the project has not advanced beyond the development stage since 2015. This will result in needing several more years before reaching a serious discussion about FTA offering NYCDOT a Capital Investment Small Starts Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). This would represent a legal commitment of Washington putting up $97 million toward the project. This also requires congressional and presidential authorization and approval of funding in future FTA budgets.

The previous construction start date for Phase 2, along with receipt of an approved Small Starts FFGA in 2023 has come and gone. The estimated capital cost has grown from $231.9 to $258.8 million over this time. This was due to "increases in site work, systems and professional services."

Completion of construction slipped from 2025 to 2029. Start of revenue service has also been delayed from 2025 to 2029. Nine years have passed since completion of the environmental review process resulting in FTA issuing a Categorical Exclusion in July 2015. It is now out of date and should be updated. 

Based upon past project history, taking into consideration inflation and other issues, the final cost could easily grow to more than $300 million. Completion of construction, followed by revenue service, may not taking place until 2030 or later.

You also have to ask if both the MTA and NYCDOT are still interested in moving this project forward, given the continued lack of progress for years. There has been no noticeable recent public support for this project by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), MTA Chairman Janno Lieber or NYC Transit President Richard Davey. Their collective silence may be a clear indication as to the future fate of this project.

About the Author

Larry Penner

Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for New Jersey Transit, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NYC Transit bus, subway and Staten Island Railway, Long Island and Metro North railroads, MTA Bus, NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry along with 30 other transit agencies in New York and New Jersey.