New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority finance committee approved an amendment to its 2005-2009 capital program that would defer some $2.7 billion of projects. The full board will vote on the amendment tomorrow. The MTA board will also get a presentation tomorrow on the preliminary 2009 operating budget.

Although at $23.72 billion, the amendment would increase the current capital plan by $1.13 billion, most of that increase is due to increased federal funding for the Second Avenue subway line and the East Side Access project. Construction cost escalation has driven up the price tag on other projects. The New York City Transit Agency, the division that operates the subway system, will defer projects totalling $2.4 billion due to cost escalation, transit president Howard Roberts Jr. said. The remaining approximately $300 million of deferred projects would come from the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, and MTA Bridge and Tunnels.

MTA executive director and chief executive officer Elliot Sander has said that the projects, which include the rehabilitation of 19 subway stations, would likely be in the authority's 2010-2014 capital program.

Finance committee chairman Andrew Saul raised concern that the authority's mega projects such as the Second Avenue subway line would take funds away from needed core capital projects. MTA chairman Dale Hemmerdinger responded by pointing out that most of the funding for the mega projects was coming the federal government or from the city in the case of the No. 7 train extension.

The MTA also announced it is readying the sale of $350 million of dedicated tax fund bonds that will close next month.

Goldman Sachs & Co. is the authority's financial adviser.

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