There's a big delay going on at the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Washington Heights, and it has nothing to do with the commute. Renovations of the more than 50-year-old transit hub are nearly two years behind schedule, and local leaders are getting frustrated. Manhattan reporter Michael Scotto has the story.
A trailer at the Port Authority's Upper Manhattan bus station was supposed to be around for just one year.
But nearly three years after a $200 million renovation of the station began, construction crews are still working and local leaders are wondering when it's all going to end.
"This has been sort of a blight on the community, because we have a boarded up terminal," said Shahabuddeen Ally, the chairperson of Community Board 12.
"It takes up a great deal of space," Ally continued. "It's used by thousands of day, so it's not something that goes unnoticed."
5 million people a year use the hulking George Washington Bridge Bus Station, many of them commuters to and from New Jersey.
It's a stepchild of sorts to the Port Authority's Bus Terminal on 42nd Street, which is used by a staggering 67 million travelers a year.
The George Washington Bridge Bus Station's long-delayed overhaul finally began in early 2014 to create a more inviting waiting area and better retail space.
But the work was supposed to have been completed 18 months ago.
"I believe this project could be done sooner," Manhattan City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez said. "I believe that they should have a better community engagement in this project."
The delays have been frustrating for local merchants who have signed leases to open up new shops in the station. They've been wanting to move in now for almost the last two years, instead having to put their business plans on hold.
Sarina Prabasi and her husband own a coffee shop, Cafe Buunni, 10 blocks away. They have been planning to open a location in the new station.
"It's hard. It's especially hard as a small business," Prabasi said. "We put our eggs in one basket and we're waiting."
The delays have cost the developer penalties of $5,000 per working day since April.
The developer blames having to work above a busy network of highways and around passengers and buses that still use the station.
The project now is projected to wrap up in April. But residents are not convinced.
"Unless something happens in the next 30, 60 days, I don't see it opening in April," Ally said.
A community used to waiting for buses, now waiting for a bus station.