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June 7, 2012

LIRR Faces New Delay: Brooklyn Train Yard

The Wall Street Journal
by Eliot Brown

The developers of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn have delayed construction on a new train storage yard, one of the many public benefits that had been promised in order to win public approval for a professional basketball arena and housing development at the site.

While the storage facility for Long Island Rail Road trains is still required to be completed by 2016, the delay comes as developer Forest City Ratner Cos. has struggled with higher-than-expected costs and a sluggish economy that have slowed other portions of the project.

"It's more of the same," said Jo Anne Simon, a Democratic district leader in Brooklyn who is a critic of the project. "There's a whole host of things that are problematic and have been delays in benefits."

Forest City spokesman Joseph DePlasco said the yard will still be completed on time. The developer has already built a portion of the yard, he said, and other related work will continue.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the developer has agreed to do $10 million of additional work in the interim, and the LIRR is using a temporary rail yard meanwhile.

"From our perspective, very little is changing here," Mr. Lisberg said.

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NoLandGrab: From our perspective, too — it's just one more in an endless parade of examples of broken promises that ultimately screw the taxpayers. We're guessing the MTA won't be delaying fare hikes, right?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, WSJ: Forest City gets MTA to accept start date on permanent railyard moved back 18 months; finished yard still due by September 2016

Developer Forest City Ratner, which successfully renegotiated the deal for Vanderbilt Yard development rights to build a smaller, cheaper replacement railyard and to attenuate payments, has managed to save cash flow by renegotiating another aspect of the schedule with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to the Wall Street Journal.

By building the arena, Forest City Ratner had to move the railyard functions (storage and cleaning) to a smaller temporary yard east of the arena block, and to build a larger--though not as large as originally promised--upgraded yard by 9/1/16.

As the screenshot above indicates, construction of the larger yard was supposed to begin this June 30, as indicated in an MTA Staff Summary dated 6/22/09.

The Journal's Eliot Brown reports that the start date has been moved back 18 months to 12/31/13, with terms disclosed to the MTA board members this week.

Posted by eric at June 7, 2012 12:16 PM