As MTA megaprojects including the Second Avenue Subway and the 7 train expansion have fallen behind schedule and gone up in cost, salaries and staff at the department in charge of overseeing such projects have increased for five years straight. Under the guidance of the MTA Capital Construction department, the price of major developments has surged and setbacks have become commonplace—yet the department has grown from 39 employees in 2004 to 151 in 2009, and its payroll has ballooned by $10.6 million.
According to the Post, the department has increased in cost and size while the completion date for the long-planned Second Avenue subway line has been delayed to 2017, and the proposed extension of the Q line to 125th Street has been pushed from 2012 to 2015. Meanwhile, the cost of connecting LIRR trains to Grand Central Terminal has surged by $800 million, the Fulton Street Transit Center has reportedly gone over budget by as much as 90 percent, and the extension of the 7 train has increased in cost and been delayed from 2013 to 2014.
The cash-strapped agency—which is considering widespread service cuts and facing a deficit of about $400 million—says that under the approved budget for 2010, payroll at the MTA Capital Construction department was decreased by $1.5 million and the number of employees was cut by 21. "Stringent financial-control measures were put in place to keep expenses within the limited funding," said an agency spokesman. But transit activists like Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign say the situation at the MTA Capital Construction department is emblematic of agency-wide problems. "You just can't have bloated payrolls while you are proposing transit cuts for millions of riders."