The Long Island Rail Road has spending issues that relate to both time and money. According to a New York state audit, several infrastructure projects over the past decade or so have been over budget and slow to get completed.
The audit looked at 11 projects from LIRR’s capital programs covering a 10-year span from 2010 and 2019. Ten of those jobs were finished late, ranging from a few months to a few years, while eight of the 11 projects ran over budget for a total cost overrun of almost $70 million.
“The LIRR, like all other MTA agencies, needs every dollar it can get,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. “This audit identifies ways that LIRR can save millions of dollars on capital projects, if it does a better job adhering to oversight policies it already has in place.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Capital Construction & Development agency has taken over the management of capital projects in order to speed capital project delivery and reduce cost. MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan noted the LIRR’s Double Track project, which has been under the agency’s oversight and should be finished a year ahead of schedule. Donovan said the MTA Construction & Development would review the practices and procedures that the Comptroller has commented upon and will determine which can be improved as part of the transformation being accomplished.
The audit also found that LIRR project managers would violate their own written procedures. Project plans and kickoff meetings would not take place and budgets were not properly developed.
The report also revealed that projects routinely were underfunded because LIRR’s Estimating Unit was not always involved in the budget process and the MTA did not allow the agency to account for inflation when preparing project budgets.
The audit contained recommendations moving forward, including adopting MTA standards to strengthen project management procedures.
Some of the recommendations have been accepted by the LIRR, while others have not.