Home 7 Line Extension MTA board, hearing opposition, to vote on 7 extension today

MTA board, hearing opposition, to vote on 7 extension today

by Benjamin Kabak

Generally, when an expansion plan receives a contract bid and this bid is sent to a governing committee for approval, the approval is generally a sure thing. While those in charge — in this case, members of MTA’s finance committee — may voice objections during debate, the end result is generally an all-or-nothing vote. But the 7 line extension plans are proving to be a different beast as MTA Vice Chairman Andrew Saul voted against approving the bid and sending it to the full board for a vote.

In the world of the MTA Capital Construction, this is a very big deal, and while the truncated 7 line extension will probably still pass today’s full board vote, the session promises to be explosive. NY1’s Bobby Cuza has more on Saul’s decision:

Even though there was no competition, agency negotiators announced Friday that they were happy with the price they worked out for the tunneling work – about $1.1 billion, or just barely over budget. But the agency didn’t expect board members to criticize the deal at a committee meeting Monday.

“I can’t, for me as a fiduciary here, sit here and go ahead and approve a contract for over $1.1 billion of state money, or city money, or both, without having competitive bids,” said MTA Vice Chairman Andrew Saul.

Saul, the lone member to vote against approval for the contract, was not alone in expressing his dismay. Andrew Albert, not an MTA board member but a vocal transit advocate nonetheless, was none too pleased about the plans to eliminate the station at 10th Ave. and 41st St. entirely. “More [need] exists now around the 10th Avenue station than around the Javits Center station. Are we saying that conventioneers are more important than our own residents? I hope we’re not saying that,” Andrew Albert, of the NYC Transit Riders Council, said to Cuza.

But while the MTA board debates the contract today, City officials are working to secure funds for that station at 10th Avenue. Maybe we shouldn’t lose hope yet for this plan. According to Eliot Brown of The New York Sun, Mayor Bloomberg will try to cajole the state into forking over another $450 million to secure the station shell at least. Even this month would drastically reduce the cost of building another station on the extension in the future.

So now we wait. In an ideal world, the MTA board wouldn’t approve a contentious contract for a project that received just one bid. But in reality, that outcome seems unlikely, and we’ll be left with a flawed contract and an incomplete extension that will bypass the area that needs a subway station the most. Who goes to the Javits Center anyway?

As for a completion date, don’t expect the 7 line extension to materialize over night. Newsday reports that the line is due for completion in 2013 while NY1 says 2014. Anyone want to bet that something pushes this date back further into the 21st Century?

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Scott October 24, 2007 - 9:18 am

The entire 7 line extension has never made any sense to me. I know the main issue is money, but if you are going to extend the 7 line, why are you stopping at the javits center? why not go to at least 14th street and 8th avenue thereby giving L train and ACE riders a transfer to go to the west side and the Javits? Or, why not take it further down the west side and possibly take it to Battery Park City, which could surely use a station. I know, money prevents it, but the plan -as is- always seemed half ass to me.

Benjamin Kabak October 24, 2007 - 11:18 am

From a geographical perspective, Scott, I’d say that extending the 7 line all way to Battery Park City isn’t completely feasible. I’m not sure how solid the ground is there. Remember, BPC is built atop landfill from the construction of the original Twin Towers, and I have no idea if that land could support an underground tunnel and subway station. Plus, I think the E is a more natural line to extend west. It wouldn’t involve as many twists and turns as the 7.

That being said, I too have wondered about the half-assed nature of this plan. At the very least, any 7 extension should terminate across the street from Chelsea Piers. Imagine how much that area would benefit from the a subway stop.

But the real reason why the plan was originally set to stop at the Javits Center as it does today is because of the Olympics. Bloomberg put forward this subway extension plan as part of his bid to lure the Jets to the West Side and the Olympics to New York City. When the Olympics bid fell through in 2005, Bloomberg promised the money for the subway extension anyway and now has seemingly reneged a bit on that deal. I think that’s why he’s trying to secure more funds.

Funny too is the completion date. Had the city won the Olympics bid, this line would have been finished by 2012. Instead, they’re now eying 2014 or later.

Board approves 7 line extension at Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways October 24, 2007 - 4:04 pm

[…] MTA voted today to approve the 7 line extension. Only Andrew Saul, also the lone dissenter on the MTA’s finance committee, voted against the one-bid contract, and MTA CEO Elliot Sander […]

Marc Shepherd October 24, 2007 - 4:45 pm

The original purpose of the 7 Extension was to revitalize the area around the Hudson Rail Yards, which is the last large remaining tract of undeveloped land in midtown. An extension down to Chelsea Piers or the Meatpacking District, desirable though that may be, is a project for another day. However, if you look at the detailed plans, you can see that the 7 Extension has been designed with that goal in mind. The line is being built with tail tracks facing south, to facilitate future extensions (as well as to provide train storage).

Bloomberg always said that the 7 Extension made sense, with or without the Olympics. We’ll never know if he was truly sincere about that, but you could make that argument. The railroad tracks coming into Grand Central were once in an open cut. If you look at what’s there now, it’s pretty clear that covering them over was a very good idea.

I think Ben is right that there are engineering limitations that prevent the subway from going into Battery Park City. I would favor an eventual extension of the 7 down to at least 14th Street, perhaps coupled with a westward extension of the L. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The MTA doesn’t yet have the funding to complete the Tenth Avenue station or the remaining three phases of the Second Avenue Subway. Let’s get those projects funded before we start dreaming up more.

Why the subway custodian probably makes more than the rookie cop patroling that station : SUBWAYblogger.com: Blog from the New York City Subway | Transit | MTA | News October 24, 2007 - 10:21 pm

[…] an opening for Manager of the 7 line.  That must be a popular gig these days.  Salary:  $124,800 – […]

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