The Daily News story on the history of the East Side Access project comes four years after Janno Lieber, then the new chief of MTA Capital Construction, reported a complete diagnosis of the project's early issues and publicly declared the previous way of doing business was over (April 2018 PDF begins p. 8 & video; Oct. 2017 video). It seeks to transfer the failures of previous leaders to a current MTA administration that has stuck exactly to the schedule and budget laid out when the project was turned around more than four years ago. As that 2018 schedule dictated, the project is on track to open by the end of 2022.
Also contrary to what the Daily News would have its readers believe, the East Side Access budget has not increased since 2018. The project as outlined in 2018 was $11.1 billion, where as the Daily News reporter knows, it remains today. In alleging otherwise, the Daily News adds $463 million for train cars, which has been included in the MTA capital program since 2010, and the cost of interest on project debt which has always been publicly reported by the MTA in its separate operating budget.
The Daily News’ rehash relies on two individuals involved in the project 13-14 years ago who had responsibility for its budget, schedule and efficiency, and seem to have failed in their duties. That's not breaking news; it was reported years ago. While others seek to reassign blame for their own lapses, the MTA is close to delivering the new era of service that was reaffirmed by Lieber in 2018 — instead of following the previous defeatist strategy of repeatedly delaying project delivery.
The completion of this project delivers game-changing benefits for Long Islanders – doubling tunnel capacity, opening the first eight-track terminal in the United States in half a century, and most important, allowing service to be increased by 40%. The failures that took place 13-20 years ago, under governors three times removed from the current administration, should not distract from these historic achievements.