Home 7 Line Extension As the 7 line heads west, Schumer urges a fully-funded project

As the 7 line heads west, Schumer urges a fully-funded project

by Benjamin Kabak

westwardho.jpg

34th St. and 11th Ave. still seems like the middle of nowhere to me. (Source: AP)

We are now in the middle of a golden age of subway expansion. For the second time this year, the MTA celebrated a groundbreaking as city, state and agency officials gathered in the Times Square station to launch the 7 line westward to its eventual new terminus at 34th St. and 11th Ave.

The project, set to be completed in 2014, will cost the city — and not the MTA — an estimated $2.1 billion. Supposedly, this money will come from the tax revenues from the as-yet-realized Hudson Yards development. (For more on that development, check out Curbed’s top-notch coverage.) Officials were, of course, patting each other on the back yesterday.

“My administration is committed to ensuring the vitality of our state’s critical infrastructure as it contributes to fostering continued economic development,” New York’s Governor Eliot Spitzer said. “The transit system is the lifeblood of New York City, and the 7 line extension will bring an underutilized part of the city to life as a vibrant residential and commercial center.”

The Mayor, one of the driving forces behind this extension, spoke well of the project too. “Nothing better exemplifies our commitment to transit oriented development than the fact that we’re providing over $2 billion for the extension of the 7 and working with the MTA and the State to realize this vital component of our development plans,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “The development of the Far West Side simply couldn’t happen without this extension, and because of it we will see this area give rise to a vibrant and exciting neighborhood with needed housing, office space, commercial and cultural venues, and parks and open spaces.”

But what just a minute. As I’ve detailed in the past (here, here, here and here), the 7 line extension we’re getting is not the one we want or need. When the city and the MTA originally agreed to the project, the plans called for a stop at 41st and 10th Ave. and one at 34th St. and 11th. But rising costs quickly scuttled those plans.

The city balked at spending a few hundred more million dollars beyond than the $2.1 billion they had originally planned in spite of an estimated tax windfall of $60 billion from the Hudson Yards development. The MTA proposed a shell station at 41st and 10th that could eventually be turned into a full station when funds were available. When the city tried to force the MTA to cover the cost overruns of such a shell station, the MTA balked, and those plans were simply scuttled. Thus, the city is screwing over a neighborhood and the MTA. Once that work is complete, it will forever be significantly more expensive to build that station.

But as long as the drilling and detailing work is still east of 41st and 10th Ave., there’s hope yet. Enter Senator Chuck Schumer. Over the weekend, Schumer sent a strongly-worded letter to New York leaders urging them to include the second station at 10th and 41st even if that meant cutting down on some of the more useless parts of the planned Hudson Yard development. William Neuman at The Times reports:

Mr. Schumer asked the city to postpone plans for a costly tree-lined pedestrian boulevard west of 10th Avenue and to direct money toward the station project, which was canceled because of escalating costs…[City spokesman John Gallagher] said about $560 million would be spent on land for the first phase of the boulevard and portions of the subway line, including a new station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue…

But in an interview, Senator Schumer said the city still had time to change course. “It seems so obvious that a second rail station is more important than a boulevard for economic development,” he said. “It’s not that the boulevard is a bad thing. It’s just if you’re faced with a choice, when there’s limited funds, you first do the infrastructure.”

I don’t have much to add to what Schumer had to say. The man is completely, 100 percent right. The city, if they’re really expected $60 billion in tax revenue, should be able to fund another subway station on an extension they wanted built in the first place.

While city and MTA officials claim they may yet try to work something out, their responses to questions about potential overruns and future plans were vague at best. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg outright dismissed Schumer. “Senator Schumer is never critical about anything. You must have confused him with someone else,” he said in response to Schumer’s letter. That’s not really the response I would expect from someone who could personally fund this entire 7 line extension.

Meanwhile, as construction goes, so goes politics. I’m sure this groundbreaking isn’t the last time we’ll hear about that stop at 41st St. and 10th. Hopefully, someone will come to their senses about it and just fund the whole thing. The city sure could use it.

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13 comments

Scott December 4, 2007 - 9:40 am

Ahhh, the pointless extension to nowhere. If the city was serious about increasing access to the west-side, this should at least be extended to 14th street to allow L train and A-C-E riders to transfer. Or, why not extend this down to Battery Park City, which could certainly use a station given all the new residential construction just to the north of it. I know, I know, the issue is money. But if that is the case, it would make more sense to abandon the whole 7 train extension and pour those funds into the 2nd avenue subway.

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Marsha December 4, 2007 - 10:09 am

Go Chuck. I guess our other senator is too busy to chime in on the subject.

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Peter December 4, 2007 - 10:41 am

Oh, hell. Now that everybody THINKS there’s going to be some sort of transit connection to the soon-to-be-massively-overdeveloped Far West Side, there’s really no reason to actually build any subway connection. It worked for the East Side, after all. 2nd & 3rd Avenues were re-zoned for far greater bulk & height in the 1960s, predicated on the imminent construction of the 2nd Ave Subway. No Subway (yet), but that didn’t stop construction of huge highrises all over that neighborhood.
Ironically, some of those buildings are resisting the opening up of subway entrance easements within their property, because they replace lucrative retail stores…..

That the #7 extension is just a stub end spur instead of a fully-integrated addition to the entire system makes pretty clear that lip service notwithstanding, efficient transit is seen as a publicly-funded amenity for real estate speculators and not a true municipal utility.

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Larry V December 4, 2007 - 11:35 am

Ahhh, the pointless extension to nowhere.

To be fair, the first subway lines were extended out to the fields of upper Manhattan, among other places. They were far more “nowhere” than the West Side is.

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Scott December 4, 2007 - 12:55 pm

“To be fair, the first subway lines were extended out to the fields of upper Manhattan, among other places. They were far more “nowhere” than the West Side is.”

Agreed, however, there is a difference between that and digging a one-stop extension to benefit some developers as Peter pointed out. If they truly cared about creating some additional transit on the west-side of Manhattan (which is exploding these days) this stub needs to extend further and 11th and 34th. This money would be better spent on additional phases of the SAS that are still unfunded.

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Marc Shepherd December 4, 2007 - 6:00 pm

The 7 extension is not an extension to nowhere. There’s a pretty long track record showing that transit and economic development go hand in hand. Eleventh Avenue is a long, long way from the nearest subway—much more so than Second or Third Avenue. I think it’s fairly apparent that the 7 extension will have significant economic benefits.

The project is being built with tail tracks pointing south, which would make an extension down to 14th Street a real possibility in the future. But it would need to be coupled with a westward extension of the L.

I continue to believe that the city’s position on the Tenth Avenue station is mere posturing, and the station will in fact be built.

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Caesar December 4, 2007 - 8:15 pm

I called the deputy mayor’s office this morning, because I thought it was insensitive of the deputy mayor to say that development was happening so the Tenth Avenue station was not needed. I do not agree and I hope the residents of the area organize to demand that the station be built. Also the riverfront nearby is a well used tourist destination. I hope the Mr. Shepherd’s comment that the city is just posturing is true.

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Peter Bautista December 6, 2007 - 1:02 am

I agree; the 41st and 10th station ought to be built. From the perspective of actual use and need, it seems to have a much greater rationale than the 34th and 11th station. Near as I can tell, the only justification for a 34th and 11th station is as a way-station on the way to connecting with the L at 14th.

I get that the Bloomberg administration thinks the Westside is going to have major growth and development, but even if that’s true, seems kind of silly to ignore the 41st and 10th area where a growing, developing neighborhood already exists.

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » Bloomberg, not yet willing to pony up, criticizes fare hike plans December 6, 2007 - 1:07 am

[…] Meanwhile, the city isn’t funding the 7 line extension because the MTA is too slow to act. The city is funding the 7 line extension because it’s hardly a top priority. In the comments on Tuesday, Scott called this project “the pointless extension to nowhere.” […]

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » Doctoroff: Let’s go halfsies on the 10th Ave. 7 line extension station December 21, 2007 - 1:55 am

[…] groundbreaking, Senator Chuck Schumer had just called upon the City of the New York and the MTA to resolve their differences concerning cost overruns for the $2.1-bilion one-stop extension to 34th and 11th Ave. As we know, the plan originally called […]

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » As Tishman deal collapses, Schumer and Bloomberg spar over development May 14, 2008 - 11:16 am

[…] this development, Schumer, long skeptical of the 7 line funding, took this opportunity to push for a project that he considers to be more viable than the Hudson […]

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Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog » Blog Archive » City, MTA officially kill planned 7 stop at Tenth Ave. September 19, 2008 - 12:01 pm

[…] have long advocated for the inclusion of this station in the final project. If the city is going to spend the time and […]

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Someone January 14, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Ah, the useless extension that no ones gonna use.

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