Skyrocketing Marine Transfer Station Costs Spur Elected Officials to Call on Administration to Pause the Project

Skyrocketing Marine Transfer Station Costs Spur Elected Officials to Call on Administration to Pause the Project

New York, New York –  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Dan Quart, Council Member Dan Garodnick and Council Member Ben Kallos today urgently requested a 60-day pause to review the exploding costs of the 91st St. Marine Transfer Station similar to the recent pause and review of the costly and delayed Emergency Communications Transformation Program.

Since its inception, the cost of 91st St. Marine Transfer Station has quintupled from $43.9 million for FY 2002-2005, $121.8 million for FY 2008 - 2009, $181.6 million in FY 2013 – 2014, and now $215.1 million for FY 2014 – 2015. The de Blasio Administration paused the 911 overhaul this week after it went nearly a billion dollars over budget – almost double its original estimated cost.

“The city needs to press the pause button on this ill-conceived project. CityTime should have taught us a lesson about half-baked project ideas. This one just doesn’t add up. What started as a $43.9 million project has now ballooned to over $215 million and counting.  What’s more, disposal costs are more than 2 ½ times current rates.  I strongly support the idea of oversight and review of a project whose costs are spiraling out of control; it’s never too late for some common sense,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

"The City's continued insistence that this ill-conceived and ever more expensive project move forward has been consistently befuddling, especially given the fact that it simply does not accomplish its stated goal of advancing environmental justice. Spending nearly five times what was originally estimated would be an outrage for any taxpayer-funded project, let alone one that already doesn't accomplish what it's supposed to. At the same time, the City is also pursuing another puzzling, unnecessary step: this Friday's scheduled tree removal at Asphalt Green. The Department of Sanitation has hired engineers to evaluate alternative routing of the ramp, and a study is ongoing -- so why cut down decades-old trees along the original ramp route before the study is done? This action is arbitrary and wasteful -- much like the project as a whole,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
 
“A boondoggle is a boondoggle. Just as the 911 system was rightly ‘paused’ by the administration, the 91st Street MTS should be as well. The capital costs of constructing the MTS are skyrocketing, which is bad enough, but its operating costs once built are far higher than current practice. It’s voluntarily walking into fiscal quicksand,” Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said.
 
"For years, the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station has been a boondoggle for New York City. I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the power of the pause for the 911 overhaul; it is time to devote the same care to the MTS. I call on the Mayor to do a full review and investigation of the implementation of this project,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart.
 
"The amount of money necessary to develop this transfer station has gone well beyond any point of rationality, and even supporters should recognize that the costs far outweigh any potential benefit here," said Council Member Dan Garodnick.

"The estimated cost of the 91st Marine Transfer Station was $43.9 million for FY 2002-2005, $121.8 million for FY 2008 - 2009, $181.6 million in FY 2013 - 2014 and $215.1 million for FY 2014 - FY 2015. The CityTime system was originally budgeted for $63 million but ended up costing the taxpayers $700 million, an increase of more than 10 times the original estimate. There was something seriously wrong there, and it appears that there is something seriously wrong here. I have been proud to join Mayor de Blasio in reversing many of the worst policies of the Bloomberg Administration, and hope to continue this pattern by joining together to stop the 91st St. Marine Transfer Station now," said Council Member Ben Kallos.

Text of the letter to the Mayor, First Deputy Mayor and Sanitation Commissioner is as follows:

May 21, 2014
 
Mayor Bill de Blasio
c/o First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
 
Commissioner Kathryn Garcia
NYC Department of Sanitation
Central Correspondence Unit
59 Maiden Lane, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10038
 
Dear Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Shorris and Commissioner Garcia,
 
We are writing to thank the administration for its suspension of the Emergency Communications Transformation Program and to request similar action on the marine transfer stations, particularly at 91st Street, where the removal of trees is slated to begin this Friday.
 
The estimated cost of the 91st Marine Transfer Station was $43.9 million for FY 2002-2005, $121.8 million for FY 2008 - 2009, $181.6 million in FY 2013 – 2014, and now $215.1 million for FY 2014 – 2015.  Costs have nearly quintupled since the project’s inception. The 91st Marine Transfer Station is starting to become a hallmark of government waste and overruns. Responsible budgeting would require oversight and review when a project runs significantly over its projected cost, let alone double, triple, quadruple or, in this case, quintuple the original estimates. CityTime was originally budgeted for $63 million but ended up costing the $700 million – an increase of more than 10 times the original estimate. With this project already halfway to reaching the overrun ratios of CityTime, we request a pause and investigation of the construction.
 
The money to build this ill-conceived transfer station is coming out of funds that could be spent on schools, senior services or improving our solid waste system to become more environmentally friendly and less harmful to New Yorkers. Added to the fact that the cost of disposing of one ton of trash will skyrocket from $90/ton under the current system of disposal in New Jersey to $238/ton through the Marine Transfer Station to Staten Island, and the costs become staggering to New York City taxpayers.
 
The 911 overhaul was a billion dollars over budget and six years overdue. We commend the administration on its decision to pause and review for 60 days. Similarly, we request a 60-day pause and investigation of the implementation of the 91st St. Marine Transfer Station. Thank you for your immediate attention. We will await your response.

Sincerely,
 

      Congresswoman Carolyn MaloneyState Senator Liz KruegerManhattan Borough President Gale BrewerAssembly Member Dan QuartCouncil Member Dan GarodnickCouncil Member Ben Kallos###