The board of New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday approved contracts aimed at speeding the rehabilitation of the L subway line's Canarsie tunnel by three months, to 15 months.

New York’s MTA intends to step up the pace of its Canarsie tunnel reconstruction. Bloomberg News

Hurricane Sandy caused substantial saltwater damage to the East River tunnel, which connects lower Manhattan with Brooklyn.

The $477 million contract, which the MTA awarded to a joint venture consisting of Judlau Contracting Inc. and TC Electric LLC, also adds $15 million in incentives to finish the tunnel project within the 15 months.

New York City Transit, an MTA unit, will also implement procedures to ensure that the project advances in a fast-tracked fashion similar to the expedited nature of design-build projects.

"I think it's reasonable to expect us to do this quickly, to do it without delay and to do it more efficiently," MTA acting chairman Fernando Ferrer told reporters.

"Design-build is something important that we embrace. As we move virtually every one of our projects to that kind of model, it's important to look at what we've got that's been planned for a long time and advance that as well."

Approval came with a stern warning for Judlau. The MTA has had mixed results with the company. Authority officials have said the company is late with changes to electrical and communications components of the Cortlandt Street reconstruction on the No. 1 subway line, which the MTA took over from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Lawrence Schwartz, the board's finance committee chairman, said he would push to deny Judlau future MTA business if it is late with the Canarsie work. "If it's a day over 15 months, they lied, and lying is unacceptable," he said at a special board meeting. The board postponed its vote from March 22, when it lacked a quorum because several members were away on other business.

Judlau also worked on the Second Avenue subway megaproject and completed the Montague tunnel reconstruction – a project similar to Canarsie – ahead of schedule.

The MTA, one of the largest municipal issuers with roughly $37 billion in debt.

Board member Andrew Saul wanted to delay the Canarsie contract until the MTA and Judlau came to terms on Cortlandt Street.

Before the tunnel's closure, work will be performed at two stations to increase efficiency, accessibility and circulation. Station improvements at the 1st Avenue and Bedford Avenue L stations include new stairways and elevators compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Construction of a new Avenue B substation will help generate more power that will enable more trains to run to accommodate increasing ridership, the MTA said in a statement.

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Paul Burton

Paul Burton

Paul Burton is the Northeast Regional Editor for The Bond Buyer and the author of the book "Tales from the Newsrooms." He is a sought-after public speaker and has appeared on radio and TV shows, including former CBS News White House correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s public-affairs program, “Full Measure.”