Work on the 2nd Avenue Subway line has barely started and costs are already getting out of control. The much publicized groundbreaking, which was at least the 4th one for the perpetually-delayed line, cost the MTA $89,000. While an $89,000 groundbreaking may not make the most fiscal sense, wait until you hear what the agency actually spent the money on.
$61,000 - hiring a contractor to clean, renovate and build a stage
$16,000 - lighting related costs by NYC Transit
$1,500 - 300 DVDs for groundbreaking attendees
$1,500 - 300 miniature ceremonial groundbreaking picks for attendees
$6,000 - security for event
$3,000 - audio/video installation and operation
It's a MasterCard commercial waiting to happen! If you're wondering why the MTA needed to hire a contractor to clean and renovate, it's because they wanted to have the groundbreaking underground in the actual tunnel. While already built in the 70s, the tunnel had to be power-washed and made safe enough for all the people attending the groundbreaking.
The groundbreaking was just a drop in the bucket for the future T line, which has a $4 billion budget. Phase one of the project starts this year, is scheduled to finish in 2013, and is only for new stations at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets and a connection to the Q at 63rd Street.
Photograph of one of the subway tunnels built in the 1970s by Satan's Laundromat