When I started writing Second Ave. Sagas in November of 2006, the Second Ave. Subway was due to open in New York City seven years later in 2013. It’s now 2009, and after a freshly announced delay, we’re still seven years away from the opening of Phase I of the Second Ave. Subway. It’s becoming the world’s most expensive treadmill.
The bad news broke at around 10 p.m. on Friday night. That is, by the way, a very good time to break bad news. No one’s really paying much attention to the news, and by the time Monday rolls around, only the most dedicated of transit bloggers are going to notice.
Anyway, fourteen months after the MTA let slip a two-year delay, the transit authority has again pushed back the opening day for the Second Ave. Subway. This time, the line will maybe open in 2016, and this time, the feds are growing a little wary of a project propped up by billions of federal dollars and going nowhere fast.
Pete Donohue has the story:
The first segment of the Second Ave. subway may not be finished until 2016 – four years later than the original schedule, the Daily News has learned. The MTA, which has pushed back the completion date several times over the last decade, recently predicted additional construction and design delays totaling 18 months, an internal document drafted in February reveals.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s handling of some aspects of its major construction projects has frustrated the Federal Transit Administration, The News has learned. After extending the Second Ave. subway schedule in March 2008, citing higher than anticipated construction costs, the MTA was required to give the feds a recovery plan with options to make up some lost time and fill budget gaps.
The feds have “provided the MTA with a time period that is more than reasonable” regional administrator Brigid Hynes-Cherin wrote to the MTA in November. “Unfortunately, the MTA appears to have been caught up in a never-ending process of evaluating and reevaluating each program. The time for evaluation has taken far too long, and the time for presenting a recovery plan is now long overdue.”
Specifically, Hynes-Cherin targeted some internal bureaucratic issues with the MTA. According to Donohue, she wrote about “lack of leadership” and the “excessive amount of time” it took the agency to fill the vacant presidency at MTA Capital Construction after Mysore Nagaraja left that post in Jan. 2008. (This is not the first time the feds have complained about this issue, by the way.)
The MTA in conjunction with the FTA will now conduct a review of what Donohue called project schedules and management strategies. Officials though are still concerned about the money. “One of the greatest threats to the budget and schedule for the Second Ave. subway, and all of the MTA’s projects, remains ongoing uncertainty of funding for the vital upcoming capital program,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said to The Daily News.
This news is of course no surprise to New Yorkers who have waited nearly 80 years for a Second Ave. subway. What’s another one or two, they may ask. But in reality, this is just another story in a recent slew of developments foreshadowing the demise of the long-awaited route, and I fear for the future of this project. They have to complete at least Phase I this time, right? The Feds can’t just give up the ghost that easily.
Anyway, as this story plays itself out, I wonder if the MTA is going to fix those SubTalk ads that appear in cars across the system. Overcrowding along the Lexington Ave. line won’t be alleviated until 2016 at the earliest.