OP-ED: Winners and losers for 2024 NYC transportation projects

March 22, 2024
The proposed FY25 budget from the Biden Administration includes funding for high profile projects, but leaves out several others.

There is good and bad news when you see what is missing in the March 11 announcement from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg concerning President Biden’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget request under the Annual Report on Funding Recommendations FY 2025 Capital Investment Grants (CIG) New Starts Core Capacity Program and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  

Transit advocates, supporters, commuters and various other transit agencies might want to ask New York Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Janno Lieber what happened to all the other projects that did not make the cut under the FTA CIG or other federal funded programs. 

The proposed budget makes available $496.8 million of funding for the $3.4 billion share of the $7.7 billion MTA Second Avenue Subway Phase Two Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). The MTA recently announced that due to ongoing litigation against implementation of congestion pricing, $15 billion in capital projects contained within the $51 billion 2020 - 2024 Five Year Capital Plan, including the $7.7 billion Second Avenue Subway, are now on hold.  

Congestion pricing is the MTA's source for $4.3 billion in matching local funds. This places $3.4 billion in the FTA Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 FFGA to MTA in jeopardy. It would be illegal for the FTA to provide these funds under a grant until the $4.3 billion local share is real.  

This will not occur until the MTA wins several pending lawsuits against implementation of congestion pricing. At that point, congestion pricing can begin. This would secure MTA's $4.3 billion FFGA matching local share and fullfill the legal financial requirements contained in the FFGA.

Making available $700 million in federal funding toward the $16 billion Gateway Tunnel Project first phase requires that the Gateway Development Corporation (GDC) completes all the requirements as outlined in FTA's CIG program.  Only then will the FTA offer GDC a CIG FFGA.  

The first phase pays for two new Hudson River tunnels to be used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit providing service on the Northeast Corridor from New Jersey to Penn Station. It also provides funding to repair the two existing tunnels. The second phase, at a cost of $23 billion, would pay for a full build Gateway Tunnel project. This would finance four new platforms and eight tracks, resulting in a significant increase in Penn Station capacity.

There is still $100 million available in funding for the New York City Transit Canarsie Line Power and station improvements. Why has the MTA been unable to secure an approved FTA FFGA for this project seven years later?

The New York City Department of Transportation has been unable to secure an approved FTA FFGA for the $258 million Woodhaven Boulevard. Queens Select Bus Service Small Starts project for six years. 

The following projects failed to gain admission to the 2025 CIG program under project development. Since it averages five years after being admitted before receipt of any FTA FFGA, it is doubtful you will see a shovel in the ground until 2030 or later for the following projects:

  • The $2.2 billion light-rail between Jamaica and Long Island City in Queens, N.Y., on the old Lower Montauk Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) branch. 
  • The $5.7 billion for restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway Queens branch, known as the Queens Link, has yet to advance beyond a final planning study released in 2019. 
  • A new Main Street Flushing Queens Intermodal Bus Terminal connecting to the New York City Transit #7 subway would need $100 million. The MTA never initiated a planning study funded under the 2015 - 2019 Five Year $32 billion Capital Plan for the Main Street Flushing Queens Intermodal Bus Terminal.
  • The $5.5 billion for Gov. Hochul's proposed Interborough Express, which would connect Brooklyn to Queens via light rail.
  • The $2.7 billion plus for the New York City Department of Economic Development Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector.
  • The $7 billion for Gov/ Hochul's Penn Station vision improvements. 
  • The new Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (PANYNJ) 42nd Street Manhattan Bus Terminal needs $10 billion. Only $3.5 of the estimated $10 billion cost is actually approved within the current 2016 - 2026 PANYNJ Capital Plan.  They are counting on billions in future federal assistance to make up the shortfall.
  • The $3.5 billion LIRR electrification of Port Jefferson branch in Suffolk County from Huntington to Port Jefferson was originally discussed in the 1980s.
  • The Steward Airport Commuter Rail extension at $1.4 billion.
  • Planning studies have been underway for 18 years to advance the $400 million Nassau Hub bus rapid transit (BRT). 
  • The New York City Transit Utica Avenue Brooklyn subway extension construction could cost $5 billion, depending upon the length and number of stations.
  • The $1.9 billion new New York City Transit #7 subway station at 10th Ave. and 41st St. This was deleted from the original $2.4 billion Hudson Yard #7 subway extension to save $500 million.
  • The Red Hook Brooklyn subway extension from New York City Transit #1 subway line from the Rector Street downtown Manhattan station to Red Hook, at a cost of $7.65 billion.
  • The New York City Transit Staten Island North Shore BRT $1.3 billion project.
  • The New York City Transit Staten Island West Shore BRT $1.8 billion project.

I would not count on seeing many of these projects built in your lifetime.

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.