Three days after the MTA acknowledged it would have to scrap the iconic entrance to its Fulton Street Transit Center, Governor Spitzer spoke on the effects of rising construction costs at a New York Building Congress luncheon today at the Mandarin Oriental, warning of challenges ahead.
Much of the rise cannot be controlled, as the acting force is global demand for construction materials, he said, along with the rising costs that come locally from having so much construction.
Though he highlighted the tendency of large projects to only have one bidder as something that is driving up costs and something that needs to stop (the tunneling contract for the No. 7 line extension, for instance, had only one bidder, and came in hundreds of millions of dollars above what officials had hoped).
Mr. Spitzer on potential reforms:
“Some of it will have to do with the schedule on which we take bids—some of it will have to do with putting projects together, or taking them apart, in order to induce more companies to bid, to generate competition in sectors right now where we all too often are only getting one bid, and frankly we cannot survive in that context, any more than could a private developer.”
Mr. Spitzer also defended his decision to substantially scale back plans for an expanded Javits Convention Center, taking a jab at the slow-moving progress of prior administrations:
“All through my career I’ve said delay is the enemy of progress. This is a classic example. Had the Javits Center been built when it was initially proposed—had the Javits Center not been mired in the all too frequent politics of gridlock in New York City and New York State, it might have made sense. But when they told me it would cost $5 billion to build, I cannot possibly rationalize that expenditure in the context of the competing demands the state is facing, and therefore I can tell you we’re moving on, we’re done, that chapter is closed.”