The Metropolitan Transit Authority today retracted its acting president’s statement that the agency could complete construction of three rail lines by October 2013, saying a delay of up to a year is expected.
“Following additional consultation with project managers, it is now clear that meeting the October 2013 completion date is not feasible,” Metro said in a statement.
George Greanias, Metro’s acting president and CEO, had said Wednesday that he was sticking to Metro’s original schedule calling for completion of the lines by that date.
Again, considering that the FTA could have completely disqualified Metro from getting the $900 million in New Starts grants, which would have left the 2012 Solutions plan dead in the water, this seems like a relatively light punishment. What’s not clear to me at this time is how this affects when the FTA will allow Metro to get that money. The letter from Peter Rogoff says the following:
Assuming that METRO provides us with written affirmation of your intention to terminate the existing contracts with CAF and re-procure LRVs, and a detailed plan explaining how you intend to achieve full compliance with all Federal requirements, FTA is prepared to take a number of steps designed to keep METRO’s expansion projects moving forward and keep workers on the job. FTA will be prepared to restart consideration of METRO’s pending requests for Letters of No Prejudice (LONPs) through which work on the North and Southeast projects that is separate from the railcar procurement can be initiated with the potential for Federal reimbursement. At present, there is more than $50 million in funding already appropriated that can be granted to METRO for engineering and design work on these two projects. Finally, FTA will be prepared to resume its financial analysis and our negotiations for Full Funding Grant Agreements, pending your development of a sound and viable plan for a new LRV procurement.
What this says to me is that Metro doesn’t have to go all the way through the re-bid and purchase process of the LRVs to get back on track with the FTA. Metro just has to say, in writing, that they will cancel the CAF contract and begin rebidding, and to write out a plan to fix the other things the FTA flagged, to get back in their good graces. That strikes me as something that need not take an excessive amount of time. How far along Metro needs to be in the re-procurement process to get the FFGAs going again, and whether the FTA will start over from scratch with them or will more or less pick up where they left off are unanswered questions at this time. I’ve posed them to Metro, and they’ve promised to get back to me on them, so we’ll see.