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Most NYC infrastructure projects are delayed and over budget, state comptroller says

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The state comptroller is calling for improvements to New York City’s infrastructure planning and development after his office found most projects were delayed or over budget.

Initial project budgets and schedules were consistently blown for more than 5,100 projects studied, according to a new report by New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office. But a key city agency said the analysis is flawed because it counts routine maintenance projects being done “in house” as major capital projects with specific start and end dates.

Nearly two-thirds of the projects examined were delayed more than three months past their planned completion dates; just under half were “excessively delayed” more than three years past those dates; and just over half exceeded their initial budgets, to the tune of $54.5 billion in total cost overruns. Nearly two-fifths of the projects were at least 20% over budget, the report found.

“Given limited resources and an escalating cost environment, the city should monitor its capital spending in a more uniform and comprehensive manner so it can review funding expectations, prioritize where additional work is needed, and maximize the return on every capital dollar it spends,” DiNapoli said in a statement on Friday.

Delays in New York City capital projects

New York state comptroller’s office

The report cites three projects by the city Department of Transportation as among the largest examined, including road maintenance and a partial rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. “The total budget for these items is now $3.5 billion, nearly four times the original amount,” the comptroller’s office found, though it noted the BQE project was “not delayed and currently remains near its budgeted level.”

The DOT disputed DiNapoli’s analysis, saying it wrongly classified ordinary upkeep, like road resurfacing and pedestrian ramp work, as capital projects with budgetary constraints.

“The underlying data used for this report is based on an outdated and overly technical way of looking at these projects, and that is why some in-house, regularly reoccurring maintenance and rehabilitation work is listed with regular payments technically reflected as project budget increases,” spokesperson Vincent Barone said in a statement.

Cost overruns in New York City capital projects

New York state comptroller’s office

Mayor Eric Adams’ office said it was committed to improving the city’s infrastructure delivery, including through better monitoring of expenses and project milestones. It pledged to save tens of millions of dollars annually and speed up projects by tracking them closely.

“If Albany gives us commonsense tools like expanding alternative delivery and extending joint bidding, we’ll be able to further streamline the planning, design, and construction process, delivering projects faster and saving taxpayers money,” a City Hall spokesperson said in a statement.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, whose office is also responsible for monitoring the city’s infrastructure speeding, called for an “all-hands-on-deck approach to reform capital project delivery — from how we assess the City’s state of good repair … to legislative reforms in Albany that modernize how the City designs and builds its infrastructure.” He urged the Adams administration to more frequently update a capital projects dashboard launched last fall under legislation he sponsored as a councilmember.

Top New York City capital projects and stated reasons for delays

New York state comptroller’s office

DiNapoli’s report said the top reasons the city’s infrastructure project were delayed or went over budget were changes in project scope, unforeseen conditions, and budgetary constraints, such as lack of capital funding in the city’s treasury when projects are developed and necessary funding adjustments in the city’s capital plan.

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