SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY: AFTER 85 YEARS WILL IT BE A REALITY?
The Second Avenue Subway in NYC has been a transportation project that has been envisioned for over 85 years now. Since 1929, when the need for a Second Avenue Subway line was first realized and plans were first developed, there have been repeated delays and setbacks. All of those delays were linked to, not surprisingly, the economy and national wars. Finally, after many plan revisions, in 2007 work began in earnest. Phase 1 of the 4 phase project was finally fully funded – or so we believed.
Funding for the Second Avenue Subway Project from 1929 – 2015
When the Second Avenue Subway was first planned back in 1929, it was estimated that the total construction cost would be $98,900,000. Today we laugh at such a figure. We are now talking billions of dollars per phase.
Just a few months ago, with over 80% of the Second Avenue Subway phase 1 project completed, MTA Chairman, Thomas Prendergast, wrote a letter to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris reiterating that the Second Avenue Subway line completion was “critical to the future of the city itself.” He stated his reasons as:
“The MTA and its transit system are at a crossroads. Ridership has never been higher. The city’s population has grown and its location has shifted, putting pressure on transit in newly developed neighborhoods, and, in fact, the entire system.”
Mr. Prendergast’s reason for the letter however, was to request $1 billion for the Second Avenue Subway over the next five years. On top of that, an additional $1.5 billion will be needed for repairs and maintenance.
While it is true that the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway project is due for completion by December of 2016, even that may be delayed. In a report made just this past week, Matthew Welbes, Executive Director of the Federal Transit Administration in Washington, D.C., commented on the Second Avenue Subway project:
“It looks like the project is trending, based on our data, toward an opening of closer to, maybe early in, sometime in 2017.”
But, with all of that fudging, the FTA has been contradicting the MTA’s prediction by stating that they believe the opening of phase 1 will be more like 2018.
Current Second Avenue Subway Line Time Frame Predictions
Okay, so if the Second Avenue Subway line has been in the works for over 85 years already, what is the current plan? Will you see any of it in your lifetime? While you most probably will experience the benefits of the first phase completion, certainly those who lived in 1929 will never benefit from any of the completion.
Here is the projected plan:
• Present – December 2016: Phase 1 (96th Street to 63rd Street). This phase is projected to serve 200,000 daily riders.
• Phase 2 (125th Street to 96th Street). Currently underfunded and cannot begin construction until more fully funded. The projection is to begin construction sometime in 2019, at the earliest.
• Phase 3 (63rd Street to Houston Street). No funding at all yet.
• Phase 4 (Houston Street to Hanover Square). No funding at all yet.
At this time, when the complete Second Avenue Subway line is finished, the projection is that it will serve 560,000 daily riders. Most likely it will be considerably more by the time the line is totally ready. The projection is for 2029.
Written by Anne Schabert for MetropolisApts.com
Photography by Tom Ripellino