Today: 21.08.2018
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Cuomo had the MTA waste $30M on tunnel vanity project.

Gov. Cuomo ordered the cash-strapped MTA to waste up as much as $30 million on his latest vanity project — retiling two city tunnels in the state’s blue-and-gold color scheme — instead of using the dough for desperately needed subway repairs, The Post has learned. The boondoggle began soon after the taxpayer-funded agency ordered white...
Time: 23:42     Date: 22.07.2018
Metro News: Cuomo had the MTA waste $30M on tunnel vanity project. NY Post 24 - US News

The boondoggle began soon after the taxpayer-funded agency ordered white tiles to reline the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens-Midtown tunnels after Superstorm Sandy, documents show.

The governor got wind of the plan — and insisted that the cash-strapped transit agency add stripes of blue and gold, thinking nothing of the additional $20-$30 million cost, according to sources and project documentation.

“The white tile had already been ordered, but he insisted that [the walls] be in the state colors,’’ a top construction executive told The Post.

The move now has some on the MTA board seeing red. “We could have found much better uses for that money — especially because most people are speeding through the tunnels and not paying attention to what is on the walls,” seethed board member Andrew Albert.

A second member added, “This is exactly the type of distraction, expense and use of the MTA by the governor as a marketing tool that is at the root of many of our problems.”

The Cuomo-controlled MTA quietly approved the change in November 2016, just months before straphangers endured the “Summer of Hell’’ as years of neglect caught up with the system.

The MTA is still struggling to find cash to overhaul its decrepit subway signal system, replace decades-old trains and repair crumbling stations.

The MTA buried Cuomo’s tile change in two contract amendments worth $62.6 million.

Gavin Masterson, chief procurement officer of the Bridges and Tunnels division, described the changes at a committee meeting as “modifications to meet New York State branding guidelines.”

The MTA refused to make the contracts available to The Post.

The governor cut the ribbon at the Queens-Midtown tunnel Friday, revealing the blue and gold stripes that run its length — and quipped about the added burden.

“These construction workers had an added burden to deal with because every time I went through the tunnel, I would get out, and I would call them over and say, ‘You see this tile is crooked,’ ” Cuomo said.

But the micro-managing is no laughing matter to some workers, who say it’s gotten so bad they call him “Chief Engineer Cuomo.”

The tunnels are just the latest example of Cuomo’s vanity spending. His office bragged in 2016 about painting the MTA’s new subway cars in the blue-and-gold color scheme, which later appeared on the MTA’s new city buses. State police cars have been repainted in the same colors.

Straphangers were outraged over the wasteful spending.

“I don’t know what cousin of [Cuomo’s] works at what agency that cooked up this idea,” said Katrina Brinkley, 39, as she stood under a dangling wire inside the crumbling Chambers St. J/Z station near City Hall — where missing tiles and leaking ceilings are the norm.

“This station is decrepit. That money could go to so many other things.’’

Le-André Ramroop of Brooklyn added, “Has [Cuomo] ever seen this place? Has he been down here?”

An MTA rep did not dispute the pricy tile change, only saying, “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 rep, Jon Weinstein, told The Post.

Cuomo spokesman Peter Ajemian added, “We’re proud that we completed this project on budget and ahead of schedule thanks to the men and women at the MTA and other partners.’’

Additional reporting by Ruth Weissman

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