Home 7 Line Extension Checking in on the 7 line extension

Checking in on the 7 line extension

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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Alon Levy November 19, 2009 - 12:54 am

Meanwhile, SAS is starved for cash and TBMs. Thanks for the funding priorities, Mike!

Benjamin Kabak November 19, 2009 - 12:56 am

This one’s easy: Guess whose real estate buddies get to benefit more from the 7 line extension than from the Second Ave. Subway.

Scott E November 19, 2009 - 8:15 am

I know it’s been debated, but forgot the result. Who is responsible for cost overruns, the city or the MTA? (Or does the reason for the overrun have to get traced back so accountability can be assigned?)

Jerrold November 19, 2009 - 12:26 pm

THREE years?
Isn’t late 2013 FOUR years from now?

Jerrold November 19, 2009 - 1:57 pm

I see that it has by now been corrected.

Jerrold November 19, 2009 - 12:29 pm

I also want to say, how right you are about the stupidity of the abandonment of the 10th Ave./41st St. station!

SEAN November 19, 2009 - 12:45 pm

Perhaps the padestrian tunnel connecting the PABT aA C E station to the Times Square station is one of the reasons why the 10th Avenue station was abandond? Of cource money is an issue, but either way there’s no excuse for that.

Benjamin Kabak November 19, 2009 - 12:48 pm

To put it bluntly, no. The 10th Ave. station was abandoned because this project was coming in way over budget, and the city — footing the bill for 98 percent of the costs — did not want to spend another billion dollars to build the station. It doesn’t benefit the Mayor’s real estate interests to build a subway station in an already-developed neighborhood when the Hudson Yards development deal is so dependent upon this 7 line extension reaching 34th and 11th.

That’s not a conspiracy theory. That’s the simple public truth.

AK November 19, 2009 - 1:40 pm

In the interest of being precise (I know Ben knows the exact figures), the shell of the station at 41st and 10th would have been built for $450 million. Seems like a no-brainer to everyone but the decision-makers…

Benjamin Kabak November 19, 2009 - 2:25 pm

Yep. To clarify, the current contract has a $450 million option to construct the shell at 41st and 10th Ave. It’s still not too late for it either. To build a passenger-ready station would, I believe, cost around $1 billion more.

SEAN November 19, 2009 - 2:54 pm

I stand corrected. At least build the 41ST Street station shell for the future.

Alon Levy November 20, 2009 - 2:42 am

Or, they could bag the station at 34th and 11th and just build one station at 41st and 10th. But that would be too useful for people.

E. Aron November 19, 2009 - 1:17 pm

$2,152,946,333. What a shame. That could have bought some pretty sweet benefits to public schools and health services. I really hope this purported west side development creates a lot of jobs and tax payments to the city to the tune of $2,152,946,333 some day.

Alon Levy November 20, 2009 - 12:16 am

And I hope I get a pony someday.

My hopes and yours are about equally likely to come true.

Kevin November 19, 2009 - 7:01 pm

I wonder if this will be a part time extension only with the station closing late nights. It doesn’t seem like the Javits Center would be a popular destination during the overnights.

rhywun November 20, 2009 - 12:47 am

What a ridiculous boondoggle. Two billion city tax dollars for a one-station extension. Why isn’t this getting more news coverage?! Baseball season is over–time to focus on stuff that matters. Oh wait, we paid billions for that corporate welfare, too. Jeez.

Brandi November 20, 2009 - 3:16 pm

Why doesn’t someone start an online petition or a website to get this station built? Would be such a shame to see an opportunity wasted.

Alon Levy November 20, 2009 - 4:05 pm

Because Bloomberg doesn’t care what other people think.

Think twice November 21, 2009 - 7:16 am

What 10th Avenue business and property owners should do is band together and demand a fully finished station there. Then in their negotiations with City Hall they could compromise it down to a station shell. “He who yells best, gets their way.” That may be why the Cross Bronx Expressway got built and Lower Manhattan Expressway didn’t.


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