MTA Office of the Inspector General

NEWS: ‘Mistake in judgment’ cost MTA $3M on signal upgrade project

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The MTA’s construction wing “intentionally excluded” a crucial component of a 2021 signal upgrade project — a “mistake in judgement” that cost taxpayers an extra $3 million, the MTA Inspector General said.

NYC Transit officials told MTA board members in June 2021 that a “field observation” had identified “deterioration” of cable trays along the elevated tracks, resulting in an extra $2.9 million work order on the $25 million project.

But a probe revealed the construction officials were previously aware of the issue, but excluded it from the project “almost certainly because of budget constraints,” acting IG Elizabeth Keating said.

“NYC Transit likely spent more to replace the cable trays than if that task had been included in the original scope of work,” said an IG report released Thursday.

Officials from MTA Construction and Development, then known as MTA Capital Construction, thereby misled board members when they implied the need to replace the cable trays was not known before the work began.

MTA Inspector General Elizabeth Keating blames New York City Transit’s Maintenance of Way Department for not fixing the issue sooner.
MTA New York City Transit

Construction and Development was run by now-MTA CEO Janno Lieber from 2017 until August 2021.

But Keating also faulted New York City Transit’s Maintenance of Way Department for not correcting the error sooner.

“MOW personnel did not review the plans closely enough,” the IG report said.

Keating, in a statement, noted that, “Expanding scope once a project is underway is notorious for increasing the cost of a project, as any homeowner knows.”

Pressed on “why he had not categorized it as an error or omission,” the construction manager suggested the condition of the trays had gotten worse after MTA designers did their surveys.

The IG probe, however, found that was not the case, as the surveys flagged the trays early on as “in poor condition” and in need of repair.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber
Janno Lieber serves as the MTA Chair and CEO.
Lev Radin/Sipa USA
SUBWAY
A “field observation” had identified “deterioration” of cable trays along the tracks.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Clearly, the [MTA] designers made a mistake by not including the replacement of cable trays in the original contract scope of work,” the IG report said.

The MTA in its official response said it is complying with IG recommendations “in the process of preparing new project management procedures.”

“Consolidating MTA’s capital program into MTA Construction & Development has enabled the MTA to streamline its capital construction work within one centralized agency,” MTA spokesman Mike Cortez said in a statement, “allowing for more direct lines of communication for full project scopes to ensure capital projects are being delivered faster, better and cheaper to maintain state-of-good-repair and optimal service.”



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