By Gabriel Rom

A spokesman for city DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said her comments on the price tag for the controversial Select Bus Service along Woodhaven Boulevard, which angered state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), had been misinterpreted.

Addabbo said the price tag for the controversial Select Bus Service along Woodhaven Boulevard had ballooned to $400 million, based on testimony from Trottenberg at a recent Council hearing. Trottenberg’s spokesman said she told the Council that “the potential price tag of the Woodhaven SBS project had grown but that DOT’s adjustments had made the higher estimate no longer applicable.”

DOT officials were unable to say where the $400 million estimate came from or, given DOTs adjustments, what the DOT’s current cost estimate is for the project

Until the commissioner’s remarks before the City Council March 3, the full SBS price tag was estimated to be in the $200 million range.

“She also noted that DOT would work hard to keep the project on budget, while at the same time bringing significant transit and safety benefits to Woodhaven/Cross Bay in the next year,” the spokesman said.

The MTA contends the streamlined bus route along the Q52 and Q53 routes will provide more reliable service for 30,000 daily riders with an anticipated travel time savings of 25-35 percent and will especially benefit low-income citizens along the Woodhaven corridor who have been plagued with slow buses for years.

The timeline for the project has changed as community opposition increased.

DOT announced in December that it plans to implement a preliminary short-term SBS program in early 2017 before a full capital build-out.

The short-term plan will include street resurfacing, roadway and pedestrian safety improvements along the 1.3-mile corridor and is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $10-20 million. The full capital project, while still in the design phase, will be significantly less than the $400 million estimate, according to the spokesman.

“In my opinion, DOT’s plan for Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard could wind up being nothing more than a careless and irresponsible use of city dollars and that should not be tolerated by residents who live and travel along this corridor every day,” Addabbo said. “For $400 million, I believe the city can do better.”

According to Capital Plan Highlights from DOT’s Report on the fiscal 2017 preliminary budget and the fiscal 2016 preliminary mayor’s managemen report, there will be an increase in planned commitments of $123.2 million in fiscal 2018 to fast track the construction of the SBS route past the Rockaway Boulevard-Liberty Avenue intersection and deep into the Rockaway peninsula.

That increase brings total planned commitment for the Woodhaven Select Bus route to $151.9 million in the fiscal 2016-2019 plan.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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