For a long time, I took to calling the 7 line extension the “Train to Nowhere.” It’s not that it would always be the train to nowhere, but when it was supposed to open in late 2013, it would be the train to not very much. The first major Hudson Yards building still isn’t set to open until later in 2015, and the entire complex won’t be completed until the mid-2020s if all goes according to plan. And then the delays struck.
During Monday’s MTA Board committee meetings and in materials made available over the weekend, the MTA announced yet again that the opening for the 7 line would be delayed. While they’re holding out hope that the one-stop extension to 34th St. and 11th Ave. will open in late February, an Independent Engineering Consultant expects the line to enter revenue service some time during the second quarter of the year, and MTA officials did not dispute this finding during the meetings on Monday. Thus, potentially 18 months after Mayor Bloomberg’s ceremonial ride, the 7 line might open.
A problem of course is that 10 Hudson Yards is inching toward completion. The Subway to Nowhere will soon morph into the Somewhere Without a Subway, and the cushion between the projected opening of the 7 line and the projected opening of the Hudson Yards office buildings is disappearing before our eyes. If the MTA can’t deliver this project on time, what hope do we have for the Second Ave. Subway, which is supposed to open two years from now?
To add insult to insult to injury, the problem remains technologies that aren’t exactly new. Yet again, the inclined elevators are behind schedule, and this time, the fire alarm testing has not gone as planned. While the MTA notes that “all parties are working together to bring the construction
completion as close as possible to the original agreed upon date,” with no contingencies remaining in the schedule, the IEC sees the second quarter as a more likely revenue service start date.
I’ve said what I’ve had to say about these seemingly never-ending delays. In ten years, we’ll forget about it, but it’s imperative for the MTA to use this experience as a learning point if they are to continue to grow our transit network. We’ve gone from a short delay to November to eventually in 2014 or maybe 2015 to February and now to the second quarter of next year. The MTA just can’t get this project across the finish line, and if that’s not a metaphor for the capital construction issues, I don’t know what is.