Cuomo called out for ‘extravagance’ in adding $30M worth of blue and gold tiles to East River tunnels

Posted On Tue, July 24, 2018 By

Posted On Tue, July 24, 2018 By In Policy, Transportation

Image courtesy of The Schreder Group.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly ordered the MTA to spend an extra $20-30 million to add blue and gold stripes–the state’s color scheme–to the white tiles that line two of the city’s tunnels beneath the East River. According to the New York Post, the already cash-strapped agency was ordered to add the blue and gold details to the white tiles being used to reline the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens Midtown tunnels in Superstorm Sandy repairs, even though the funds are sorely needed for station and other infrastructure repairs. According to a construction exec, “The white tile had already been ordered, but he insisted that [the walls] be in the state colors.”

The MTA is scrambling to find money give its decrepit subway signal system, aging trains and crumbling stations a much-needed overhaul. Though the taxpayer-funded enhancement and its price tag has angered some at the agency, MTA rep Jon Weinstein said, “There were absolutely no wasted tiles. The tunnel reconstruction project is an unmitigated success–finished nine months ahead of schedule and with resiliency and security measures that protect millions of New Yorkers.”

The tile changes were reportedly reflected in two contract amendments worth $62.6 million and were described by Gavin Masterson, chief procurement officer of the Bridges and Tunnels division, as “modifications to meet New York State branding guidelines.” The MTA approved the changes in November 2016.

On Monday Cuomo defended the “extravagance” of installing the colored tiles, insisting that “all New Yorkers should be proud” of the completed projects.

MTA Chair Joe Lhota added that the total price tag for the tile for both tunnels was $39.2 million and that the colored tiles did not add to the installation cost, which was all paid for by a Federal Emergency Management grant: “This is not a complicated pattern. This is a straight line.”

Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon was not convinced, pointing out that the blue and gold tiles were an example of how Cuomo “continues to prioritize vanity projects instead of investing in the actual infrastructure to fix our subways.”

[Via NY Post]

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