As political leanings go, President Bush and I rarely seem eye-to-eye. But this week marked the rare occasion where I could back, at least in part, some of the President’s budget plans. President Bush, you see, has promised $1.3 billion of federal money for the 2nd Ave. subway.
Speaking in New York last week, Bush acknowledged Senator Chuck Schumer’s new power by announcing federal funding for a rail link between Lower Manhattan and JFK Airport. This week, the President and the Department of Transportation further guaranteed another set of funding for this important construction project and blog namesake. The New York Sun reported:
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters will recommend today that the Second Avenue subway line receive $200 million in federal funds in 2008 and $1.3 billion from the federal government by 2013, when the first segment of the line is slated for completion.
The announcement marks a major step toward ensuring the completion of the long-planned project, which will run to 125th Street from the financial district in Lower Manhattan and ease congestion on the 4, 5, and 6 lines. Phase one of the project will run between 63rd and 96th streets.
This news couldn’t have come at a better time for the MTA which will have to kick in over $2 billion for this plan. Last week, with editorial pages urging maintenance priorities over construction plans, it looked like the 2nd Ave. subway was on a tentative footing.
But the New Starts program, which funds public transportation projects across the country, stepped in. New York City is going to receive a third of the New Starts money in 2008, and going forward, much of this money and future years’ contributions are earmarked for the subway. The rest will go to the LIRR expansion into Grand Central.
So things are finally looking great for the 2nd Ave. subway. “This is fantastic news for New York in general. This is the final step,” Christopher Boylan, MTA spokesman, said. While I think the final step will be the first Q train that runs up the new tracks and along 2nd Ave., this is certainly good news. With drilling scheduled to start next month, we may very well see tangible progress as the 2nd Ave. subway moves from a 70-year dream to a new reality thanks to a budget from a President for which few people in New York would ever vote.
Artistic rendering of a proposed station on the 2nd Ave. subway line from Arup Consulting.