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MTA Taps Contractor With Mixed Track Record For $492M L Train Repair Work

By Gwynne Hogan | April 3, 2017 12:22pm
 The MTA awarded $492 million Monday for repairs to the L train's Canarsie Tunnel.
The MTA awarded $492 million Monday for repairs to the L train's Canarsie Tunnel.
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DNAinfo/Michael Ip

CIVIC CENTER — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded a $492 million contract for repairs to the L train's Canarsie Tunnel Monday to a contractor one board member called a "dreadful" source of delays at the Second Avenue subway, while others defended it for speedy under budget work on the R train.

Judlau Contracting, whose track record working with the MTA includes repairs to the R train's Montague Tunnel which they finished under budget and a month early, will work alongside TC Electric during a 15-month full shutdown of the L train's tunnel.

If the contractors finish the work in 15 months, three months shorter than previous projections of how long the work would take, they'll get the full amount, according to the terms of the contract which MTA board members voted to approve at a Monday meeting.

If the contractors fall behind, however, they'll have to cough up $410,000 each day past the deadline, according to MTA board members.

“We committed to 15 [months]. If we can do better we will," said Charles Magrath, president of TC Electric, who offered his company's experience working with Judlau on the R train tunnel as evidence that North Brooklyn commuters should trust them to get the job done. “It is our hope, we will strive to do that."

Cesar Pereira, the Vice President of Judlau Contracting, said the company has done work for the MTA for more than 20 years and had never had to pay fines for being late on projects, though some projects were delayed because of external factors.

"With the help of its employees and subcontractors and the MTA’s very capable staff and designers, Judlau and TC will once again deliver a successful project to the MTA and the riding public," Pereira said.

The shutdown, which will sever all L train service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue, is slated to begin in early 2019.

At the Monday morning meeting, MTA finance committee chair Lawrence Schwartz warned that the "old days" of how "projects went over budget and late are over," and if Judlau didn't finish the project in 15 on the dot, they'd never get a lucrative MTA contract again.

"It will not be tolerated or accepted to be 15 months and one day," Schwartz said. "If it's a day over 15 [months], it means they lied and lying is unacceptable."

While Judlau and TC Electric worked together at to repair the Montague Tunnel and finished several weeks early and $49 million under budget, board member Charles Moedler worried about issues the MTA had with Judlau Second Avenue subway, though ultimately the project was completed by the end of December as promised.

“Judlau did a dreadful job on the Second Avenue subway," Moedler said, at a March 20 board meeting discussing the contract. "It was a cause of delays for completion. Efforts to get it into line were unavailing until the governor personally stepped in and made sure they did what they had to do."