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NEW YORK CITY-The $1.57 billion in federal stimulus funding approved for transit projects here has been slow to make its way to the projects themselves, the New York Building Congress says in a report issued last week. Noting that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted by Congress in February, the report says project data from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council show that almost none of the approved monies have been spent.

“The transportation projects slated for stimulus funding”–which include the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access–”present a positive blend of mass transit and surface transportation projects intended to maintain and expand the system,” says Building Congress president Richard T. Anderson in the report. “What is of great concern, however, is the slow pace of these projects. It has been almost six months since Congress and the Obama administration approved the stimulus package, yet close to nothing has been expended on the capital side.” He adds, “It is incumbent upon our elected leaders and agency heads to get these dollars flowing directly into the projects already approved and likely to be approved in the coming months.”

A spokesman for Gov. David Paterson’s Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet, created in February to manage state and local stimulus projects, tells GlobeSt.com that “we disagree with that characterization” of slow progress. He notes that in many cases, “these are big, complicated projects” occurring in New York City, with a great deal of planning necessary to minimize disruption.

Moreover, the spokesman says, there are federal rules and regulations to be met. For example, the projects must be reviewed and vetted according to ARRA guidelines. Contracts must be subject to competitive bidding. Given all of that, “we feel we’re moving quite expeditiously,” says the spokesman, adding that “we expect to be able to issue contracts very soon.”

The Building Congress report notes that slightly less than half of the stimulus dollars approved thus far will go to support NYC Transit’s work on the Fulton Street Transit Center and the Second Avenue Subway. A total of $423.4 million in stimulus funding will go to the Fulton Street to rehabilitate the mezzanines serving the 4/5 and A/C subway lines, and for construction on Dey Street and the Corbin Building.

To date, a total of $276 million has been approved for ongoing construction of the Second Avenue Subway. Of that amount, $197 million will go to building the 96th Street subway station.

In all, NYC Transit, a division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has been approved for $1.2 billion in stimulus funds. A share of the remaining funds will go to rehabilitating existing stations throughout the system, although $215 million is dedicated to East Side Access.

The New York City Department of Transportation has been approved for $282 million in stimulus funds. Of that amount, $175 million will be used to replace the 60-year-old bus ramps at the St. George Ferry terminal on Staten Island. Other NYCDOT projects that will receive stimulus funding include work on or around the Brooklyn Bridge and the Bruckner Expressway. New York State Department of Transportation projects approved for New York City total $81.1 million, according to the Building Congress report. Another $1 billion in transportation projects are likely to be approved for stimulus funding, the report states.

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