(Bloomberg) -- The decision to delay New York City’s congestion pricing plan risks leaving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with a bigger budget hole than originally thought. The agency has warned bondholders that it may have to postpone more than $15 billion of infrastructure projects to make up for the huge deficit. 

Earlier this month, Governor Kathy Hochul indefinitely paused the new tolling initiative that would have brought in $1 billion a year for projects. The largest transit agency in the US had planned to borrow against those funds to generate $15 billion to modernize a more than 100-year-old system and help boost ridership. 

But MTA officials may need to find even more capital improvements to shelve in order to preserve vital federal funds that mandate local contributions, the transit agency warned investors in bond documents.

“Total projects deferred could be well in excess of $15 billion depending on the impact of federal grant funds which require a local match,” according to the bond document for an $800 million debt issuance to be sold by the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

MTA staff plans to update the agency’s board members next week at its monthly meeting on which infrastructure projects need to be deferred. 

Major capital projects are at risk of being sidelined as the MTA needs to prioritize state-of-good-repair work that maintains its infrastructure and assets to provide safe and efficient service. That can be seen in the agency’s decision to stop work on the Second Avenue subway expansion.

Stopping that job could put the MTA at risk of losing $3.4 billion of federal funding tied to the $7.7 billion Second Avenue extension project because the transit provider must invest more than $4 billion in order to receive the federal cash.

The $15 billion from congestion pricing was going to fund rehabilitating subway signals to speed-up service, adding more elevators to train stations, purchasing zero-emissions buses and extending the Second Avenue subway to Harlem.

MTA staffing needs could also be impacted, the document said. “MTA may have to adjust staffing levels in response to reduced capital spending.”

Hochul’s decision to temporarily pause congestion pricing came less than a month before the anticipated June 30 start date and after the tolling gantries were already installed throughout parts of Manhattan. The MTA is on the hook for about $503 million to contractors for getting the program in place, including $291 million to TransCore LP, which designed, built and installed the tolling gantries, according to the MTA’s capital program dashboard.

The “incurred costs” of the congestion pricing infrastructure may also have to be offset “with reductions in other capital spending,” the document said.

The agency’s operating budget is also at risk because it may need to sell debt repaid through that spending plan earlier than expected if it’s unable to issue bonds backed by the new congestion pricing revenue. That would increase the MTA’s borrowing costs sooner than anticipated by as much as $300 million, the agency has warned.

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