One day, this cavern will be a subway stop at 34th St. and 11th Ave. (Photo courtesy of MTA Capital Construction)
When the MTA announced its projected budget on Wednesday afternoon, the news focused around the steady fare for 2010. At the time, I promised more news this evening if the budget documents warranted further exploration, and they do not. So instead of more numbers about projected revenue and ridership, let’s head underground.
Since late June, when the MTA stuck with its 2013 target date for revenue service along the 7 line extension, news from the Far West Side has been scarce. Although I wondered if stimulus funds would save the station at 41st and 10th Ave., those funds and plans have yet to materialize. The station remains as dead as it was in September when funding concerns killed it, and neither the city nor the MTA has leapt at the chance to avoid making a costly construction mistake by not building it.
A few days ago, though, the MTA’s Capital Construction division finally updated the 7 line construction website with three pictures of the progress. One, seen above, shows significant progress at the 34th St. station cavern. Some concrete is in place, and the waterproofing has been installed. The other photos simply show some men working and some cables and ventilation for the tunnel boring machines. Thrilling stuff.
Meanwhile, in its document dump of MTA Board committee materials, the agency provided us with more concrete information about the 7 line extension. Found in the Capital Construction PDF, we know how detailed budget info and a set timeline for the extension. According to current estimates, this project — a one-stop extension of the 7 line from 41st between 7th and 8th Aves. to 34th St. and 11th Ave. with tail tracks do the mid 20s will cost $2,152,946,333. With this project set to add a little bit more than a mile to the 7 line, the cost of underground construction in New York City is prohibitively expensive.
According to the MTA documents, the project is still on target for a late 2013 debut. Originally, the agency had hoped to debut the 7 line service in 2012 after starting construction in 2006. The work, however, did not begin until December 15, 2007, and as such, the revenue service start date was delayed. We should not lose sight of the fact that, despite this early hiccup, the project has stayed on schedule since construction began nearly two years ago.
As for the nitty gritty, those tunnel boring machines are working their ways through the Far West Side. Through October 26, over 1800 feet of tunnel — or 19 percent of the project’s total — had been carved. As the picture shows, one machine has reached 34th St., and the other is set to get there by early December. Crews are continuing to work on the abandoned lower level platform beneath the 8th Ave. stop at 42nd St. to underpin the current A/C/E station. The new extension will pass directly through the abandoned stop and under the current station.
In the end, that’s about all she wrote for this update. The city still has not submitted to the MTA the necessary agreements for the agency to finalize station entrance designs, but that is a mere technicality at this point. If all holds according to plan, in four years, the 7 line extension — not quite a Subway to Nowhere, but not really a subway to anywhere other than the Javits Center right now — will open on time.