Central Subway: Federal Overseer Laments “Serious Deficiency” in Time, Money Contingencies

By Joe Eskenazi : SFWEEKLY – excerpt

Federal officials “concerned that it has taken the Central Subway Project so long to address this serious deficiency.”
If time is, indeed, money, the Central Subway project is in double trouble.
A recent report by an overseer monitoring the $1.6 billion federally funded project laments that the controversial subway line is at risk of falling well short of Federal Transportation Administration minimums for both surplus time and money….
Update, 3 p.m.: Rose says the contractor handling the headway construction has “brought in a second piece of equipment to double production.” With regards to concerns about time contingencies, he claims “we are moving forward with getting back on schedule.” Muni’s monetary reserve is well below FTA-approved levels — but Rose was confident the $65 million contingency would suffice. If not, he said, Muni could tap into a “capital surplus.”… (more)

San Francisco deserves better than the SFMTA. What are we going to do about it?

If the SFMTA is in the hole for $65 Million, why are they spending like there is no tomorrow, turning revenue generating parking spots into free bicycle parking, parklets and bulb-outs?

Why are they approving millions for non-Muni projects? (i.e. the $510 million deal on Market and Dolores).

Why are the spending a fortune on a subway station north of  Chinatown when major development is concentrated in the Eastern Neighborhoods?

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2 thoughts on “Central Subway: Federal Overseer Laments “Serious Deficiency” in Time, Money Contingencies

  1. SFMTA needs to quit diverting funds from Muni Operations.

    The MTA is diverting operations money to other uses. We’ve already seen this with respect to the extra cost of the Pagoda development, which I think will rise to about $20 million (although they may try to hide the fact)

    When a major project starts to go over budget, those managing the project are vulnerable. That’s because if they own up, they are subject to being excoriated in public by politicians bent on casting aspersions while carefully exonerating themselves from blame.

    So the scramble begins. When an overrun threatens, the focus soon turns to finding other financial sources…preferably hidden sources. In the MTA’s case, the most likely source would be the large Muni operating budget, now in the process of being augmented via assorted revenue-raising schemes. There are dozens if not hundreds of ways that money can be shifted around within an agency without calling attention to the fact. For this reason it can be difficult for an outsider to keep track of what is going on.

    As you suggest, the current pressure to raise more revenue is undoubtedly related to the present and probably future need to tap the Muni operations budget for non-operational uses…such as for instance covering Central Subway overruns. The CS project has at least six years to run and a huge amount of construction ahead of it. Yet the contingency reserve has already dropped by at least 65%. (It would not surprise me to learn that it was gone completely). Back in March of 2010 the FTA/MTA Risk Management Analysis concluded that there was only a 30% chance of the CS Project coming in within budget. The FTA’s April 30, 2013 Mini-Report strongly criticized the MTA’s Project Management team for the project’s rapidly dropping contingency reserve and its dwindling float time, either or both of which suggest future cost overruns.

    If the Central Subway starts to bleed money, and if that money is destined to come from local sources, expect additional attempts to tap the Muni’s operating budget. There is a need to remain continuously alert to this possibility.

    – Posted for Jerry Cauthen

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