Home Asides Skanksa JV set to build Second Avenue’s 86th St. station

Skanksa JV set to build Second Avenue’s 86th St. station

by Benjamin Kabak

The MTA announced this morning that it has awarded a $301 million contract to a joint venture of Skanska USA and Traylor Bros Inc. for the construction of the 86th St. station cavern along the Second Ave. Subway. The construction, which will start this month an wrap in the fall of 2014, will include the excavation of the station cavern, installation of the cavern’s concrete structural lining and basic utility and underpinning work.

MTA and Skanska officials praised this deal as a clear sign that Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway will indeed see the light of day sometime this decade. “With this award we move one step closer to making the Second Avenue Subway a reality for our customers,” Michael Horodniceanu, the President of MTA Capital Construction, said in a statement.

Skanska has played a key role in this $4.45 billion subway expansion plan that the MTA says will open in December 2016. They are part of the joint venture building the Phase 1 tunnel, recently won the contract or the 34th Street station along the 7 line, are working on Fulton Street and have completed numerous other MTA renovations. “Skanska and the MTA have a long and successful history of working together to build, renovate and improve New York City’s transit system,” Michael Viggiano, a executive vice president with Skanska, said. “We are excited to build yet another major project with our MTA partners, one with historical significance. New Yorkers will soon have subway service on the Upper East Side which will reduce overcrowding and delays on the Lexington Avenue line.”

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curious September 15, 2011 - 11:47 am

How come there is no 79th or 81st St Station planned for the SAS. Both the IRT and the IND have stops between 72nd and 86th on the UWS, so length of train is not an issue – the 81st St Station on the B and C is quite well used regardless of the AMNH.

Benjamin Kabak September 15, 2011 - 11:51 am

How are you able to parse out AMNH riders? The 81st St. station on CPW is well used because of the museum.

The southern station entrance for 86th St. will be on 2nd Ave. between 83rd and 84th. There’s no need — and in fact, travel time and speeds are impacted — to have another station at 79th, four blocks away from 86th St. and seven blocks away from the northern end of 72nd.

Kevin C September 16, 2011 - 4:34 pm

Just to elaborate on what Mr Kabak says, 4 trends favors modern subway stops farther apart than they were 70 years ago: tunnel boring, station cost, and escalators.

Tunnel boring: means no 4-track cut-and-cover subways and that means 2 tracks and no express. On the UWS side, the *local* stations are close together, but the *express* stops are separated by 24 blocks (IRT) or 66 blocks (IND). The SAS’s station spacing neither as close as the old locals nor as far as the old expresses.

Station cost: Big caverns for either 2-over-2 (UWS IND-style) or 4-across (IRT style) are expensive and risk undermining the built-up city (not as much of a problem for the IRT when UWS was lo-rise, or along CPW where there’re buildings only one one side), so instead we build one long station, deep down. And since we are using escalators to get the street anyway, use the escalators to “reach out” to widely-separated entrances.

Larry Littlefield September 15, 2011 - 1:02 pm

That’s a hell of a lot of money.

The question is, is there any chance, any chance at all, that Phase II will ever see the light of day? My understanding is the track is there, and all you need to do is build the three stations to 116th. From there, you need the curve to a 125th Street station.

The second phase is criticial for a system in long term decline. Why? Because it would cover the whole East Side, and allow a transfer for those coming down from the Bronx, if deterioration ever knocks out the Lex for a period of years.

Inconceivable? Remember the Manhattan Bridge, and 9/11. Redundancy is required in the wake of Generation Greed.

John September 15, 2011 - 1:05 pm

I think Phase 2 will happen, but not in the immediate future. Once Phase 1 is running, Phase 2 just makes too much sense for them to ignore. But the economy and debt/funding situations will probably need to be worked out first.

Caelestor September 15, 2011 - 1:11 pm

Phase 2 probably will happen, considering some of the tunnels have already been built.

Phases 3 and 4 are more problematic, mostly because I think the N has to serve the UES alongside the Q (both lines combined have 3-4 minute frequency during rush hour, necessary to reduce congestion on the Lex). That leaves little space for a future T service.

Benjamin Kabak September 15, 2011 - 1:17 pm

The N won’t serve the UES, just the Q. If both the N and Q are going to the UES when only Phase 1 or 2 are in service, Astoria will suffer heavily.

Al D September 15, 2011 - 1:53 pm

Good point because people there are used to the 6 running ‘every few minutes’ albeit crowded as opposed to the Q, now running every 10 minutes or so. That wait can seem like an eternity for folks used to waiting only a few minutes for a train. For example, if you are used to the L, and then transfer to another B Division line, it can seem like it takes forever for the train to come.

Benjamin Kabak September 15, 2011 - 2:07 pm

Rush hour headways on the Q are 6-8 minutes right now. It seems less because the Q doesn’t really operate on its own at all. It shares tracks with either the B or the N/R/W. The MTA may need to up that for SAS service.

John-2 September 15, 2011 - 5:03 pm

We could end up seeing the return of the W a few years after Second Avenue opens, but as a replacement for the N on the Astoria line, if the Q proves to be incapable of providing enough TPHs for the ridership of the new line.

Q/N via 63rd and R/W via 60th would also eliminate the track switching bottlenecks between 42nd and 57th streets, though the W would have to run more frequently than it’s previous incarnation to make Astoria riders happy — they’re already going to be miffed when the extension to 96th Street opens, if they lose the Q and the W isn’t brought back at that time.

Andrew September 15, 2011 - 7:59 pm

Astoria needs two services. The W will be coming back when SAS opens, to serve Astoria along with presumably the N.

The Q runs at 6 minute rush hour headways, which are probably adequate on SAS. That’s an average 3-minute wait – less than the walk time to Lex.

Justin September 16, 2011 - 1:18 am

The N would never go up Second Avenue. The Q is a full time service, so it could go that route, because you’d have it running 24 hours on Second Avenue, Broadway, and the Brighton Line. The N is a 24 hour service providing Astoria residents with full time access to Manhattan. The W was always a weekday service, (except when Manhattan Bridge and Coney Island Construction shut down the N). So the N will remain in Queens as the Astoria local.

Alice September 15, 2011 - 9:23 pm

What does “Generation Greed” have to do with it?

Larry Littlefield September 16, 2011 - 9:48 am

Generation Greed is leaving the MTA, state, city and federal government bankrupt. The result will be deferred maintenance and cancelled ongoing normal replacement.

While I believe subways are robust enough to continue to run in some form through the next 30 years, long term outages are more likely.

Let say, for example, NYCT does not have the money to replace the signals on the Lexington Avenue line as they reach 75, 80, 100 years old, and just keep patching. Service failures will become more and more frequent to the point where it completely collapses, and the line is shut down. At that point, a long process of scourning up money to replace the signals will begin. The outage may last a decade.

Hence the need for the SAS.

Alon Levy September 15, 2011 - 2:01 pm

Yes, Skanska has a long history of extracting obscene amounts of money from the prostrate MTA. Let me remind everyone that in your normal first-world city, $300 million is enough to build a full station plus the tunnel to get to the next station, with none of this just-a-shell business.

Christopher September 15, 2011 - 2:31 pm

A “normal” first world city has pension and healthcare benefits paid for through federal programs. This is not the only cost increase but we regularly overlook the significant cost of paying for labor in the U.S. with privatized and state level insurance and pay level requirements. Nationalize things like labor rules, pay grades, health insurance, and pensions is a major lode of the cost of labor.

Alon Levy September 15, 2011 - 3:46 pm

A “normal” first world city has pension and healthcare benefits paid for through federal programs.

Actually, no. Many developed countries levy enormous pensions charges to fund retirement programs, and to some extent health care. In France, social security is paid by a payroll tax on the employer equal to 50% of the employee’s wage. In addition, employers are expected to provide private health insurance for the employees, as in the US, though the premiums are far lower than in the US since it’s only add-on.

Somehow, with a payroll tax that would make American employers blanch, France builds subways in complex terrain for $250 million per kilometer.

Christopher September 16, 2011 - 12:06 pm

Payroll tax or not. It’s still not coming out of the bottom line of company. Also add-ons are just that … add-ons that are not paid for by the companies. And the premiums are lower because the costs are highly regulated — drug prices, fees for services, etc.

Alon Levy September 17, 2011 - 7:17 pm

It is, in fact, coming out of the bottom line of the company. For every €1,000 you get in gross pay, your employer has to pay an extra €500 to the state to cover social security.

And the add-on insurance is an employer-provided benefit – but, again, it’s way, way, way cheaper than in the US, since it comes on top of a good public health plan. (How good? Well, I pay €21 for an ER visit without insurance in France, which is less than what I pay in the US with insurance.)

Scott E September 15, 2011 - 3:25 pm

Don’t be so quick to blame the contractor for the high cost — the LOW BID contractor I must add. Doing work for New York City Transit is orders of magnitude harder than working for other agencies. Contractors for NYCT get conflicting and constantly-changing directions, are given requirements that are sometimes impossible or even illegal within the available parameters (time schedules, technology, or even the laws of physics), and it’s a battle every step of the way. It’s not like hiring someone to build you a house and saying “let me know when you’re done.” A big chunk of these costs are for protection to cover the administrative (and likely litigious) aspects of completing a job. In order to find someone even willing to do the job, you’d better be willing to pay them a hell of a lot of money. That goes for MTA chief as well as contractor; the process is a mess.

Alon Levy September 15, 2011 - 3:53 pm

Often, Skanska is the only bid. And its record in Argentina is one of bribery, so I won’t be surprised if it’s overcharging even within the parameters it has to work with.

The low-bid system isn’t a good thing. Madrid credits much of its cost reduction with a system in which it awards contracts based on both price and performance. New York has no leeway to do that, so it tries to hardcode performance by writing exacting specs – i.e. what makes working for NYCT so difficult and offputting.

Larry Littlefield September 15, 2011 - 4:09 pm

Yes blame the contractors. MTA contracts run to volumes and volumes. But every clause is based on some contractor ripping off the MTA some time in the past.

Linkage: Staten Island Yankees Owner Sells; Court Street Houses Approved - The Broker Buddy September 15, 2011 - 6:10 pm

[…] Skanska chosen to build 86th Street Second Avenue Subway station [SAS] · Permits for Court Street’s new townhouses have been approved ['Stoner] · […]

Jerrold September 15, 2011 - 10:41 pm


My friends in Brooklyn are going nuts from the announced F train changes for this weekend.
If there will be no service between Jay St. and 18th Ave., why do they need a confusing mishmosh of THREE different shuttle buses?
Wouldn’t ONE shuttle bus have been a hell of a lot LESS confusing, even if it meant that some trips would take a little bit longer?

Andrew September 15, 2011 - 11:02 pm

There used to be two shuttle buses: one express and one local. Without the express (which runs on the highway), people who have to go all the way from start to finish have a very long ride.

The local bus was split into two pieces to encourage people on the southern end to use the R train for part of their trip. That reduces demand for the buses and saves the agency money. (It also probably saves people time – it’s a slow trip up Smith Street, and if you’re kicked off the bus at 4th Avenue and take the R train from there, you probably come out ahead, despite the extra wait. Also, the D runs local in Brooklyn whenever the F isn’t running, and the D makes most F stops in Manhattan.)

Where are you going?


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