The MTA started running a series of SubTalk ads last October designed to promote the Second Ave. Subway. “Starting in 2015,” these ads read, “the new Second Avenue Subway will help relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue lines. Overdue, but excellent news.”
That was a very bold statement to put onto paper, as as we learned in April, the MTA wasn’t going to be able to fulfill that promise. A little less than three months ago, the Daily News reported on an internal preliminary MTA study proclaiming a delayed 2016 opening for the Second Ave. Subway. Today, the news gets a little worse, as the preliminary study turns finals and concludes that the new subway line may not be ready until the middle of 2017. It will also cost approximately $100 million more than last expected.
Pete Donohue of the Daily News has more on this dismaying, but not unexpected, turn of events:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has finished an in-depth analysis of the work schedule, budget and potential hurdles for the long-awaited addition to the system, sources told the News. The conclusion: the official completion date for phase one of the project should be pushed from June 2015 to December 2016, with possible future delays placing the opening in the summer of 2017, the sources said…
The original schedule for the first phase projected a 2012 completion date but MTA officials have pushed the date back several times over the years – most recently in March 2008. Officials then cited higher than expected construction costs, which required design and planning changes. Officials also have said the earlier projections were overly optimistic…
The Second Ave. budget is revised upwards slightly to $4.4 billion from about $4.3 billion.
So since this project began, the completion date for Phase I, featuring just three subway stations and a segment of tunnel just 30 blocks long, has been pushed back by five years. The new line won’t open until nearly a full decade after the groundbreaking.
For now, work will continue on Phase I because the Federal Transit Administration is footing a significant portion of the bill, and the Feds want results. Beyond that, it’s all up in the air. Phase II should be relatively easy because some of the tunnel is already in place from previous failed Second Ave. subway efforts. It will be decades though before the Second Ave. Subway reaches south of 63rd St. The Q will just be making its lonely ride north of 57th St. along Second Ave. by itself with nary a T train in sight.
The Daily News article — which also notes a 17-month delay to Sept. 2016 for the opening of the East Side Access tunnel — features a poll that speaks volumes of public faith in the MTA. “When do you predict the line will ever be completed?” the paper asks. Just one percent of respondents chose “I believe what the MTA tells me, so 2016” while 28 percent went with “At least 5 years longer than whatever the MTA says.” A whopping 71 percent though chose “when pigs fly” as the completion date for Phase I of the Second Ave. Subway.
Someday, we may get the drive to expand the subways. Someday, politicians and power brokers will realize the importance of additional capacity. For now, as the price creeps up, as the opening day recedes into the distant future, as the marginal returns for this subway diminish, we’ll just have to wait for the Second Ave. Subway, an 80-year promise for New York City, unfulfilled forever.