After decades of delays, and nearly a century in the works, the Second Avenue subway line mega-project that’s been “under construction” since 1920 will finally be up and running by the end of the year MTA officials announced on Tuesday.
MTA Chairman Thomas Predergast reaffirmed the December 31, 2016 opening after a reporter asked about the long-awaited line.
“There are a number of challenges to overcome, but we have acceleration agreements and testing schedule plans in place,” an MTA spokesperson told the Voice. “We all know that building a subway line in the most densely populated part of the country is not easy.”
— Andrew Siff (@andrewsiff4NY) September 12, 2016
The first phase of the $4.5 billion project to extend the Q line to East 96th Street slated to be done in December will connect from East 63rd and Lexington to a new station at 96th street and Second Avenue. It’d especially benefit New Yorkers on the Upper East Side who work in Midtown and or Lower Manhattan.
The possibility of further delay has long been looming over the first phase’s opening date. In June, contractors were reported to have completed 70 percent of the project’s goals for that month; less than 80 percent that were completed in May, and just over half the 608 required tests of police radio systems and other equipment installation have been completed. Kent Haggas, an independent engineer working on the project, had previously expressed concern about a “moderate risk” of meeting the end-of-year deadline due to delayed equipment testing.
The beginning of Phase Two, which will extend the line into East Harlem, also faces delays beyond 2019.
Andrew Albert, MTA advisory board member and Chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council says he’s not surprised the first phase has taken as long as it has given the scope of the project, and the safety issues surrounding it.
“There are always problems when you’re building a new line,” he says, “But everyone wants to see this open already because the residents and business owners have put up with so much noise and construction around this—it’s a massive construction project.”
If and when completed by December, the trains can carry up to 200,000 riders a day, reducing crowding on the 4, 5, and 6 lines by 13 percent, according to the MTA’s website.
“We’re less concerned about what day it opens than we are about getting the next phase under construction,” says Jon Ocrutt, advocacy director of the Transit Center, a research firm. “Once the second phase gets going, the quicker we can get to Phase 3, and closer to completion.”
“The sooner, the better,” he added.