Home Second Avenue Subway MTA silent but Mica, feds hint at SAS Phase 2

MTA silent but Mica, feds hint at SAS Phase 2

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the past few years, as the MTA has showed off progress underneath Second Ave., authority officials have made it a point to downplay anything more than Phase 1 of the subway. Although the environmental study for a full-length Second Ave. Subway came out in 2004, funding for only a northern extension of the BMT line from 57th St. and Broadway to 96th St. and Second Ave. is in place, and the future of the remaining phases is hazy at best.

On the record, MTA officials have never spoken about the possibilities for future phases. When I interviewed Jay Walder last year, he talked about firming up Phase 1 funding commitments and looking for ways to reduce construction costs. On future phases, he hedged.

“If you look at the Second Ave. Subway piece, to their credit, the planners…are achieving a very usable segment of a railway so that when it opens in 2016, you will have something that will connect into the rest of the system.” Walder said to me. “If we don’t stop there, where do we go from here? The intent is that it goes south from there, and funding-available, that is exactly what everyone’s objective will be. We also have pieces of preexisting tunnel north so you may well have the opportunity to pick up both ends of that.”

Yesterday, though, a very faint glimmer of a Phase 2 future emerged when Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) toured the Second Ave. construction site. The federal government has been a very active funding partner for Phase 1. Their investment and pledge of $1.4 billion pushed the MTA to realize a subway line eight decades in the works, and without the federal dollars, the Second Ave. Subway would still just be a dream on paper.

Lately, though, with the feds on an austerity kick despite the need to create jobs, funding for the Second Ave. Subway had come under fire. The House had voted to take away $40 million funding, but after their tour on Tuesday, Mica and Maloney promised to restore those dollars. “The Second Avenue Subway is a great example of what can be done when we invest in our infrastructure, and I thank Chairman Mica for committing to help ensure that the federal government meets its responsibility to fund the subway’s first phase,” Maloney said in a statement.

Mica meanwhile was more expansive in his views. Noting how the Second Ave. Subway is a major infrastructure project with the ability to create a substantial number of jobs, Mica spoke of the future. “For the benefit of other major transportation and infrastructure projects like the Second Avenue Subway, and the stability needed to undertake these kinds of projects around the country, it is essential that Congress complete a six-year transportation bill as soon as possible,” he said.

Speaking with reporters after their tour, Mica stressed how he would lobby for continuous federal funding to maintain the pace of this project, and in those words, I can find that glimmer of hope for the future. If the feds can continue supporting this project, they will put pressure on New York to find the money to go forward. Phase 2 — the northern extension up Second Ave. to the IRT stop at 125th St. and Lexington — would ensure that those working on Phase 1 aren’t unemployed when the construction project ramps down, and the transportation benefits would be tremendous.

I’ve long held out hope for Phase 2 to start as Phase 1 winds down. As Chapter 3 of the FEIS explains, due to preexisting tunnels, the MTA would use cut-and-cover construction methods to build Phase 2. It would likely cost far less than Phase 1 and shouldn’t take nearly as long to finish. In a sense, it is likely to be the easiest segment of the Second Ave. Subway.

Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. The MTA has to make sure Phase 1 is set to finish on time and on budget before it can launch into Phase 2 planning. But I want to believe the project will keep going. I want to believe the MTA won’t cease construction entirely and then ramp it back up to build Phase 2. It’s going to take the perfect alignment of political stars and funding fates, but maybe, just maybe, this little subway 82 years in the making has legs that extend a bit further north than 96th St.

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Alex C November 2, 2011 - 12:17 am

No excuse for the 2 Ave Stubway to not have been funded up to 125 from the beginning. Hopefully they can magically find that $10 billion our benevolent mayor wants to find and actually spend it on 2 Ave and the 10 Ave station on the 7. I’m not an expert on this, so does anybody have an estimate for how much it would take to build the 2 Ave line down to at least 42 St?

Benjamin Kabak November 2, 2011 - 12:19 am

Because of the idiotic way in which this is being built/funded, Phase 3 down south is going to be expensive. First, it’s underneath various tunnels and through Midtown. Second, they’re going to have to construct a new launch box for the TBM south of the stub tunnels that will lead off of Phase 1. Phase 2 is way more likely than Phase 3.

Alon Levy November 2, 2011 - 3:24 am

Wait, they’re going under the deep-level E/M and 7 tunnels? Are you sure?

Anon256 November 2, 2011 - 3:50 am

No. http://www.mta.info/capconstr/.....re3-19.pdf they’ll cross under the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, but over everything else in midtown.

PeakVT November 2, 2011 - 8:48 am

Thanks for that link. Do you know if depth information for all subway lines is available anywhere?

a.v. November 2, 2011 - 1:32 pm

Doesn’t the tunnel start east of Second Ave? It shouldn’t be in the way at all.

Anon256 November 2, 2011 - 3:03 pm

The QMT exit crosses under 2nd Ave, and is in a below-grade trench on either side. It’s not as though going over it was an option, but it’s another obstruction they have to deal with.

Bolwerk November 2, 2011 - 5:36 pm

Looks like it makes little difference, except maybe depth-wise. They really should just bite the bullet and do a cut and cover construction.

Benjamin Kabak November 2, 2011 - 10:50 am

Sorry. I wasn’t clear on that. Anon256 has the link. SAS Phase 3 generally passes over preexisting subway tunnels but close enough to provide for a lot of transfer points. So they basically have to thread the TBM through the preexisting tunnels and the utilities. It’s not an easy dig.

Chris November 3, 2011 - 7:38 am

I’ll agree – Phase 2 will be much easier than the remaining part of the line. But if construction stops, it’ll never continue. Phase 2 might be a “might as well” addition to the line – Phases 3 & 4 will likely require new political muscle if they ever get done, due to the complexities and headaches involved in these phases.

AlexB November 2, 2011 - 10:19 am

What? They didn’t leave themselves a way to use the phase 1 tunnels as a launch box for phase 3? Am I crazy or does that seem like a huge waste of money? Where will they put the phase 3 launch box? Those launch boxes are massive undertakings to build. What a let down.

Instead of fully operational phases, I think maybe it would have made more (financial) sense to build it according to method. i.e., build the whole tunnel in phase 1; build the track, signal and other connections in phase 2; build the stations phase 3, etc.

Scott E November 2, 2011 - 1:47 pm

The reason it was done as it was is so they don’t run out of money and have a partially-built, but unusable, infrastructure (like a stretch of tunnel with no tracks, or eminent-domain acquired buildings with nothing in their place). The approach was the right one.

Also, with the launch box at the north end, they would still need to build another shaft somewhere south of 72nd street (where tracks diverge to Lexington Ave) to pull all of the bored rock out. They can’t convey it to the existing shaft with service operating there. My guess is – if it gets that far – that they would build a Launch Box at the south end of Phase 3 heading north, and perhaps use the same one going south for Phase 4.

al November 2, 2011 - 4:48 pm

Not necessarily.

1) There will be caverns for switches connecting the 63rd tunnel to the 2nd ave line. As long as the cavern is wide and long enough, you can put roadheader (with disc cutters) in there to bore the stub tunnels for tbm. Then you can send down pieces of TBM for underground assembly. The MTA would need to invest in muck cars that work in operational subway tunnels.

2) You could also build out the 55th st station shell/cavern/box first and use it as a launch box. Use roadheaders to bore out the stub tunnels (both north and south) long enough for TBM to fit.

3) The MTA could issue a RFP for a shielded roadheader with multiple independent disk cutters, and selective isolation boring and trimming strategy with jacks and scorers to break off blocks of rock (rock relatively weak in tension).

Marc Shepherd November 2, 2011 - 10:49 am

Unfortunately, there is a huge error in the post, which Ben has made repeatedly, and which explains why the phases are funded the way they are. Phase 2 doesn’t cost “far less than Phase 1.” The FEIS gave the costs as $3.8 billion and $3.4 billion for phases 1 and 2 respectively. In other words, Phase 2 is only slightly less expensive, not far less expensive, than Phase 1. Of course, Phase 1 has long since blown through the original $3.8 billion estimate, and it is safe to assume (given the MTA’s track record) that Phase 2 will do so as well.

So: to have funded Phases 1 and 2 together would have required around twice as much money. You can see why they didn’t do that, when even Phase 1 alone was a pretty steep hill to climb.

Benjamin Kabak November 2, 2011 - 10:51 am

Perhaps “far less” is too hyperbolic, but that’s still more than 10 percent less for another 30 blocks of subway tunnel and 3 more (expensive) stations. You’re right though; I should be more careful with the language in the future.

John-2 November 2, 2011 - 11:35 am

I would assume most of the cost of Phase 2 is going to be for the last half-mile, diving the tunnels down again from 116th Street to the station beneath the 4/5/6 at Lexington Avenue. Keeping the Lex running on its regular schedule while under pinning it not just with a tunnel, but a new station, figures to be the most costly part of the project.

Nathanael November 11, 2011 - 3:49 pm

Yep. Curved tunnels, underpinning the Lexington Avenue Line, underpinning the Metro-North viaduct, all make that last station a lot of work. I haven’t split out the “2a” and “2b” estimates, but the first two stations should be relatively easy, while the 125th Street Station should be a bear.

Nathanael November 11, 2011 - 3:49 pm

Oh, I forgot… there’s also a fault line there. 🙂

Scott E November 2, 2011 - 1:51 pm

If the projected costs (for what they’re worth) are that close, I would still suspect that the potential for cost-overruns is far greater on Phase 1 than Phase 2. All of the design challenges that weren’t foreseen during the construction of Phase 1, as well as the #7 extension, should have been encountered and solved on Phase 1’s dime. Remember, it’s been 20 years or so since the last significant tunneling extension in the system (connecting Manhattan to Queens Blvd.)

Chris November 3, 2011 - 9:29 pm

The big question – are NYC’s construction partners intelligent enough to share lessons learned with potential competitors? If not, NYC (read: MTA) will pay the price for training the next firm in the lessons learned from SAS-P1 LIRR-ESA, and #7-Extension.

I feel the #7 line should eventually be pushed further downtown and a branch uptown(as a far West side line). This will probably never happen. That being said, SAS P2-4 is urgently needed – and even if all things go right, I’ll probably never see it in my life time….


Scott E November 4, 2011 - 9:20 pm

“are NYC’s construction partners intelligent enough to share lessons learned with potential competitors…”
Irrelevant. Since design and construction are done by two separate entities (and the designers, along with MTACC, oversee construction), the setbacks encountered will roll into the DESIGN process of Phase 2 and beyond. Trust me, if the construction contractor sees an error in design, he will petition MTACC for more money to correct it, he won’t hide it.

“if not, NYC (read: MTA)…”
MTA is not city owned, operated, or controlled. I wish it, or at least NYCT, were, but it’s not.

“will pay the price for training the next firm”
Faults with the original design won’t be quietly swept under the rug – I’m sure they’ll be plastered on the front page of the NY Post, and Greg Mocker will get an hour-long expose on Channel 11 to ridicule them. Besides, engineering consultants have no loyalty to their parent companies – they are free agents who shop around personal accomplishments. If the company that wins the Phase 2 design contract is different than the one that wins Phase 1, you can be sure the in-the-trenches workers will be the same people – already with that knowledge – and just with a different name on their paychecks.

pea-jay November 2, 2011 - 12:17 am

If only they could pull phase 2 several more blocks to the west–Broadway would be great–the SAS would be even more useful even if phase 3 and 4 dont materialize

Avi November 2, 2011 - 9:10 am

I believe I’ve heard that the plans have the tracks turning at 125th. So even if there are no official plans to head west, if expansion is ever discussed, that will be the easiest way to go.

chemster November 2, 2011 - 11:53 am

Broadway would be great — but how are you going to have a connection between a subway and the 1 at 125th street and Broadway? As you can see from the wikipedia entry, the 1 is quite a bit above ground at 125th street.

Hmm, just occurred to me… maybe Columbia would help pay for it to jog a bit south to 116th street and Broadway to meet the 1 there? (It’s not like 125th street runs in a straight line around there anyhow)

pea-jay November 2, 2011 - 2:38 pm

nah, they could do it on the cheap and make it a “metro card” transfer which would eliminate the need make any ADA mods to the 1 platform

Jim Kingdon November 2, 2011 - 2:53 pm

I believe the best way to do this probably would be to join up with the A/C/B/D tracks at 125th street and head north. Transfer to the A/C/B/D would be at 145th street (or any stop along there) and transfer to the 1 would be at 168th. I think there is room in the existing tunnels for 6 tracks if 4 isn’t enough (couldn’t quickly find the blog comment where I read this).

Don’t think I’d combine it with phase 2, though. It’ll be hard enough to fund phase 2 as it exists now.

Anon256 November 2, 2011 - 3:26 pm

The IND is indeed six tracks from just north of 127th St up to the split at 145th. Merging into this tunnel would be difficult though, you’d have to curve under the 125th St IND station and then underpin the existing line as you rose up to it. And when you’re done, you end up with a line that does not really serve trips along 125th St, which will make the community much less inclined to put up with the construction disruption.

Alon Levy November 2, 2011 - 9:52 pm

On the other hand, West Harlem and Morningside Heights (both major destinations due to City College and Columbia) are only served by the 1.

Jon November 3, 2011 - 10:56 am

You know that McDonalds on the Southwest corner of 125th and Broadway? Columbia also owns that land. And since Columbia is seeking some extra goodies from Bloomberg, maybe a new station with the ability to connect to a 125th Street line can be rolled into it.

Bruce November 2, 2011 - 3:58 pm

Extending the SAS west along 125th to make connections to all the other lines is a no-brainer. How easy would it be for northern Manhattan & Bronx residents to reach the East Side?

But as long as we’re dreaming, instead of just terminating on 125th & Broadway, diving under the Hudson to New Jersey? I imagine many commuters along the crowded Palisades would jump at the chance for convenient subway access.

WilletsPoint-SheaStadium November 2, 2011 - 5:38 pm

…where the SAS could meet the HBLR extended from Tonnelle Avenue, of course!

Alon Levy November 2, 2011 - 3:26 am

Maybe they can threaten to spend the $3.3 billion in HSR money that they gave California on this. It would be far more useful (To the unfamiliar, California HSR just published a new business plan that found construction costs would be double the original projections, due to a whole slew of agency-turf-oriented viaducts and tunnels.)

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines November 2, 2011 - 8:59 am

[…] Mica and Maloney Promise Federal Support for Second Ave. Subway (NY1, Kabak) […]

TN MOVING STORIES: Boston T Sets Ridership Record, Auto Sales Up, San Francisco Embraces Car Sharing | Transportation Nation November 2, 2011 - 9:00 am

[…] Congressman John Mica said the federal government will honor its $300 million commitment to the Second Avenue Subway. (DNA Info, Second Avenue Sagas) […]

Larry Littlefield November 2, 2011 - 9:16 am

Phase I and Phase II is what we would have had if Sheldon Silver didn’t set this thing back a few years.

And Phase I and Phase II is what we need for a critical reason — reduncancy. It would allow those coming in from the Bronx to change at 125th Street if there was a long term outage on the Lexigton Avenue Line.

In addition, the Upper East Side is a bigger employment center than most U.S. “downtowns,” thanks to the hospital and institutional complex along the river. Many of those coming in from the northern suburbs drive to those institutions. With Phase II they could take Metro North to 125th Street, and transfer.

Steve November 2, 2011 - 1:17 pm

The Metro-North + 125th transfer is an interesting idea. Is the SAS significantly better than the Lexington Ave Line for that?

Larry Littlefield November 2, 2011 - 2:14 pm

The 125th Street transfer from the Bronx IRT is certainly better than the Lex if the Lex is out.

As for MetroNorth, the 72nd Street station on the SAS would be significantly closer that the Lex.

And the 125th Street station on the SAS would be right downstairs from MetroNorth, instead of a block away. Suburbanites may not want to walk that block in East Harlem, even though there is nothing to be afraid of there.

Alon Levy November 2, 2011 - 9:57 pm

Yes, SAS is far better. Not because of the Metro-North transfer, though. SAS’s main advantages are:

– It’s much closer to the hospital complex (though not to Hunter College).
– It goes to the West Side, giving riders from Columbus Circle and points north a two-seat ride rather than a three-seat ride.
– It directly serves 63rd Street, giving UES-bound riders from Queens and Roosevelt Island a two-seat ride that doesn’t involve walking 4 blocks in the wrong direction.

Hank November 2, 2011 - 5:25 pm

Larry, very good points.

One question, why do you pin the blame on Sketchy Shelly re: breaking up Phase 1 and 2?

Alon Levy November 2, 2011 - 9:54 pm

With Phase II they could take Metro North to 125th Street, and transfer.

They could, but few will. Commuters assign downtown-end transfers much higher penalties than suburb-end transfers: in other words, they find it much easier to drive 10 kilometers to a park-and-ride than to transfer to the subway downtown. See one citation here.

Nathanael November 11, 2011 - 3:53 pm

I suspect that people whose workplaces are literally next door to a subway entrance will do so, and those whose workplaces are two short blocks away won’t. I’ll lay bets it’s the walking which eats ridership on that sort of transfer; essentially, a downtown transfer will give you a much smaller effective catchment area.

Jason November 2, 2011 - 9:26 am

Question in regards to depth: Phase I was deep bore, but Phase II, including the pre-existing tunnels are all shallow (cut & cover). How do they plan on connecting them with such a difference in depth?

Jason November 2, 2011 - 9:35 am

Nevermind, the link above pretty much details it.

ajedrez November 3, 2011 - 10:52 am

The link is broken.

Nathanael November 11, 2011 - 3:54 pm

Short answer, the tunnels reach surface level around 96th St at the “launch box”.

Clarke November 2, 2011 - 9:58 am

I think it’s explained generally that the launch box of the TBMs is cut-and-cover and the machines dove down from there to meet the level of the 63rd St Line connection, so the northern end is already at level for the preexisting tunnels.

Hank November 2, 2011 - 5:44 pm

will they have to build a new launch box for the section from 116th to 125th? I hope not. probably can just use the 116th station box

John Doe November 2, 2011 - 10:49 am

The sad thing is this will never happen. We are being held hostage by the unions who cost too much. We need to hire Chinese workers, they will work fast w/o breaks, in fact they built our nation’s great rail roads many years ago.

SEAN November 2, 2011 - 12:44 pm

What? Your nuts!

Couldn't Resist November 3, 2011 - 2:15 am

What do his nuts have to do with this?

AlexB November 2, 2011 - 12:45 pm

wrong. not a union problem. references to chinese railroad workers is racist and offensive. #fail

Prester John November 2, 2011 - 5:05 pm

How is it not a union problem? You think the project wouldn’t cost substantially less if we had market wages rather than inflated union wages?

As far as the racism, I’m Chinese and I don’t see it. Obviously he means foreign non-union workers.

Christopher November 2, 2011 - 5:12 pm

Yeah. It sucks that we pay workers what they are worth and not cut rate costs. Not that unions don’t have problems and often advocate for too many workers, but pay rates are not the problem. We’d be better off with nationalized healthcare and pensions as well as national payment rules instead of locality by locality, but I’m one of those people who thinks the income disparities in this country are out of control in part because of the attacks against unions.

Bolwerk November 3, 2011 - 10:51 am

Unions may play a role, just like private contractors do, but unions alone probably can’t explain costs that are an order of magnitude higher than comparable projects elsewhere in the world. The graft that makes that possible starts with our elected officials, not the unions.

Nathanael November 11, 2011 - 3:56 pm

There is a lot of evidence that featherbedding is endemic in NY heavy construction.

Union, management, or legislature making the bad work rules? I don’t care. It’s not a good thing.

To be clear, the union workers on these projects are not getting excessive *wages*…. but there do seem to be too many workers and too much overtime, etc. See DiNapoli’s report for an example.

WilletsPoint-SheaStadium November 2, 2011 - 1:07 pm

Yeah Johnny, welcome to the 21st century, eh?

Alex C November 2, 2011 - 5:40 pm

Unions aren’t the problem really with wages. Problem is (as was mentioned on this blog a while back) cases where 25 guys are assigned to a job that needs 9.

Hank November 2, 2011 - 5:57 pm

EXACTLY. Wages are great and livable. It’s the staffing rules that screw us over (not even counting the “no-shows”).

Barock November 2, 2011 - 6:28 pm


Alex C November 2, 2011 - 9:51 pm

CAPS make you sound like you’re twelve. Unions aren’t the problem. Please don’t troll what is an otherwise calm and educated discussion. Union wages aren’t the issue, sending 20 guys to do the job of 10 is. Insane construction costs (and the politicians that allow this fraud) are also a problem. The issues aren’t as simple as your post would suggest. I also don’t understand why the concept of a union that protects workers from being treated and paid like slaves is a bad thing. You might want to try and ward off the Reagan-induced brainwashing you’ve apparently received.

Barock November 3, 2011 - 7:26 pm

Alex, PAL, Quit with your left wing diatribes. Everyone knows UNIONS are the problem. Wake UP.

Alex C November 4, 2011 - 4:44 pm

They’re not the single all-powerful problem. Nobody is suggesting they’re angels. As I’ve specifically mentioned, rules that require severe overstaffing on every little thing are a problem. Your suggestion that somehow unions are the one and only problem is incredibly ignorant. As I’ve said before, politicians who take kickbacks for overcharging on these projects are also a problem, as are the actual construction companies who practically defraud the taxpayers. I’d lay off the Faux News and try and get out of that conservabot bubble if I were you, you’d find it nice to not hate everyone and everything around you.

Bolwerk November 8, 2011 - 1:34 pm

Yes, Alex. Don’t you dare express an opinion not sanctioned by the Tea Party Central Committee. You communiss!

Anon256 November 3, 2011 - 8:41 pm

While there are many countries with strong unions and high wages where infrastructure construction costs are much more reasonable, it’s worth noting that in the US unions have been responsible for defending and maintaining unreasonable work rules and overstaffing as well. This applies both to construction and to operations (insisting on two people on every subway train and 4-5 on every LIRR train). This is not an argument against the concept of unions, but it’s fair to complain about unions in specific US cases.

Alon Levy November 2, 2011 - 10:01 pm

As it happens, I looked the numbers up a while ago, and Chinese construction costs are basically the same as European costs. They build subways in Copenhagen at the same cost as in Beijing. Chinese workers may work long hours and get paid little, but they’re also less productive.


David Brown November 2, 2011 - 1:48 pm

My gut feeling is that Phase 3 right down to Houston St will be funded (Phase four will be difficult). It has become apparent that not only do we need jobs, and infrastructure work, but at the same time, attempting to get any construction project approved is extremely difficult to say the least, because of various groups demanding this and that (Homeowners, environmentalists, politicians, businesses, unions, you name it). In this case, the entire project has been approved (Surviving Environmental Impact Studies, Community Boards opposition and the like). So for that reason (Plus the link-up with the East Side Access at 42nd St), means it makes more sense than certain projects (Like the New Tappan Zee Bridge that has to go through a long process in order to meet with approval).

Dave November 2, 2011 - 3:06 pm

How about if they just scrap phase 4, and 4 track the grand st station. Then u could have the T train run over the manhattan bridge. B trains could run thru the rutgers tunnel and you could restore express service in Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. Kill a bunch of birds with one stone.

Also, Lower Manhattan has tons of subways down there already, and why would u make SAS end with no connection to other lines on the southern end?

Larry Littlefield November 2, 2011 - 3:58 pm

The life forms that first obtain intellegence 100,000 years or so after human extinction might want to consider a connection to the Rutgers Tunnel.

al November 2, 2011 - 5:13 pm

The you would need to install CBTC on the lines over the Manhattan Bridge. During AM peak, theres space for 6tph left over for the T train (south of Grand St on the north pair of tracks). 10 minute waits may be a bit much during peak hrs, especially if they convert the LIRR Atlantic Branch to rapid transit for Southeast Queens.
The southern pair (Q, N) have 12 tph left over, but require a complex track reconfiguration for the approaches on the Manhattan end of the Bridge.

Manhattan Bridge utilization would also preclude Atlantic Branch hookup with 2nd Ave subway through Downtown Manhattan.

Anon256 November 3, 2011 - 12:49 am

The Nassau St subway has an unused track-pair from east of Bowery to Chambers; tying into this would give SAS a Lower Manhattan terminal without any Lower Manhattan construction (for that matter the T could even run on to Brooklyn via the Montague St tunnel). I fully expect this to be proposed as a cost-cutting substitute for Phase 4, if and when Phase 3 ever nears completion.

Dave November 3, 2011 - 9:53 am

You wouldnt need extra capacity on the manhattan bridge under the scenario I proposed. The T would go over manhattan bridge and the B would be rerouted through Rutgers Tunnel via 2nd ave, delancey, and east broadway.

Caelestor November 3, 2011 - 9:50 pm

That would necessitate building new tracks I think, otherwise the merging of the B into the local and the M out would just be a headache. Theoretically, the B could go to Metropolitan Ave and the M becomes a weekday only train between Church Ave and Forest Hills.

Justin Samuels November 3, 2011 - 12:47 pm

The MTA announced years ago they were considering the Nassau street line as a substitute for the lower Manhattan portion of the Second Avenue Subway when they were doing the engineering study. Its something they’ve always seriously considered as a back up.

Chris November 3, 2011 - 9:32 pm

Even if they do link SAS to the Nassau street line, P4 will still be very useful if ever built. SAS could connect lines never designed to be connected and provide interesting routing options.

Caelestor November 2, 2011 - 5:30 pm

I personally think Phase 2 will get built eventually. It’s a natural extension, and I think the UES will clamor for it after seeing the benefits of the 2nd Ave line.

Phases 3 and 4, I’m less certain about because of the structure of the line. The extension of the Q looks a lot like the CPW line, where the B/D turn east into Midtown to go down 6th Avenue. Here we’ve got the Q turning west into Midtown to go down B’way. The crucial difference is that 2nd Avenue will only have 2 tracks, which means that if the T does come to fruition, the headways of trains headed to Midtown West will double, and I’m not sure riders will want that (in my opinion Phase 3 will come at a minimum 10 years after the opening of Phase 1).

Anon256 November 3, 2011 - 12:56 am

The Q already has to share tracks with the N and B further south, so it could never use the full capacity of SAS Phases 1 and 2. Introducing the T with Phase 3 would then halve headways on northern 2nd Ave, and have no effect on service for people who just wanted the Q.

Caelestor November 3, 2011 - 1:50 am

Sorry, I forgot to mention an important hypothesis: as the Q gets more crowded as the only line along 2nd Ave, the MTA will have to reroute the N there as well (possibly replace it with the W in Astoria), and so there will be little capacity remaining for a T train.

But this is just my theory, and we’re talking about Phase 3, which isn’t due until at least the 2020s.

Justin Samuels November 3, 2011 - 12:51 pm

N and Q are two full time trains. The MTA doesn’t have two full time trains share the same terminals. So no, they would never reroute the N to Second Avenue. Phase One and 2 will remain under capacity until they build phases 3 and 4.

Anon256 November 3, 2011 - 5:23 pm

Well, in principle after Phase 2 they could terminate one of them at 116th St, turning it using the “Bronx-bound” tail-tracks. If those don’t get cut to save money.

Anon256 November 3, 2011 - 5:28 pm

Also, the 125th St terminal is supposed to be 3-track, which would give it better turnback capacity than most of the MTA’s current terminals (though that might get cut too). The more modern signalling (CBTC etc) should also help. After Phase 3, it’s definitely intended for both the Q and T to terminate full time at 125th.

Caelestor November 3, 2011 - 9:48 pm

I actually did not know that, thanks for telling me.

I still maintain that there’s going to be 2 lines serving 2nd Avenue (i.e. 15-20 tph combined) by the time Phase 3 is built, but it might be possible to squeeze in the T trains then as well.

Alex C November 2, 2011 - 10:23 pm

Here’s what I wonder: are there any future plans for a train from Queens Boulevard going down to 2 Ave? I remember the original plans had a turn from 63 St tunnel coming from QB heading south to 2 Ave. Were bellmouths done for this?

Anon256 November 3, 2011 - 1:05 am

The figure from the EIS I linked above does show such a connection, from the southern part of SAS curving east to the 63rd St Tunnel. No service using it has been officially suggested; Queens Blvd is currently at capacity, so either an existing service would have to be rerouted (R to Astoria, replacing the Q?) or use of the connection would have to wait for new construction in Queens (likely to be a long wait).

Alex C November 3, 2011 - 1:41 am

Ah yes, thank you. Good that they have that as future-proofing. If capacity at QB is ever increased, that’s one more line to send trains. Maybe the real Queens super-express happens some day.

Caelestor November 3, 2011 - 1:48 am

I’d personally build a line under Northern Blvd and connect it to the 63rd Street Line, but I do agree that this connection from 2nd Ave to Queens is good, as the full capacity of the 63rd Street Tunnel can finally be used.

Spiderboy November 4, 2011 - 12:22 pm

Here’s another idea, which probably has flaws that have not occurred to me, but I haven’t seen a discussion of it, so I thought I’d present it here:

How about turning the SAS eastward at 125th Street rather than westward toward Lexington Avenue? It’s a relatively clear shot to LaGuardia across Randall’s Island and the industrial area north of 20th Avenue in Astoria. So it might be a better way of providing airport access than some of the other alternatives.

Today’s Headlines | Body Local NYC November 3, 2011 - 10:54 am

[…] Mica and Maloney Promise Federal Support for Second Ave. Subway (NY1, Kabak) […]

Clarke November 5, 2011 - 1:59 pm

Anyone wondering about the northern preexisting tunnels (I had been), I discovered these photos of 1970s construction. Much better than what I envisioned (basically trenches dug in the dead of night).


Select Bus Service Updates With Current & Planned/Proposed Future Routes - Page 10 February 6, 2012 - 6:39 am

[…] Originally Posted by Gorgor First off all, anyone with with half a brain would know that if the MTA actually does complete the portion to 96th, there is going to be NO FURTHER EXTENSION of it past there in our lifetimes. I live there and pass the construction every day when I walk to the subway, and I doubt that it will even be completed to 96th within this decade. So actually, any suggestion or idea for anything regarding the 2nd Avenue Subway further than 96th street is pure fantasy. Plans for extending it into the Bronx, or sending it to Brooklyn to connect with other lines is just plain and outright silly. The MTA better at least finish this portion to 96th because not only have they practically turned 2nd Avenue into a parking lot during the morning rush, but they've forced countless local businesses to close up and are emitting fumes of crap from the street as well. If you don't believe me then just come and take a look. I've been an Upper East Sider my entire life, and just like I did in the 90s, I still doubt that anything will ever come out of this before I'm long gone. Phase 2 uses pre-existing tunnels, so it should be easier to build. The Second Avenue Subway will at least to go 125th Street to connect to the (or in the worse case 116th Street). http://bkabak.wpengine.com/2011/11…t-sas-phase-2/ […]


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