MTA: Second Avenue Subway, second phase, please

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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Signaling a commitment to continued subway expansion, Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO and Chairman Thomas Prendergast has requested funding for Phase 2 of New York City Transit's Second Avenue Subway, long a dream of city planners.

The move, first reported by the website Second Avenue Sagas on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, would extend the subway line north of the Phase 1 terminus at 96th Street to 125th Street, linking with NYCT’s 4, 5, and 6 (Lexington Avenue) lines, as well as Metro-North’s 125th Street Station.

Prendergast on Thursday stated his request before a New York State Assembly hearing in Albany, N.Y. MTA is seeking at least $1.5 billion to be included in the MTA’s five-year capital program. That amount at best would cover a relatively small portion of the project’s cost, earlier estimated at $3.5 billion and now projected by some to cost $4.5 billion. MTA almost certainly would seek federal funding assistance to cover at least some of the remaining cost.

Besides the 125th Street terminus, the extended line would also add subway stops at 106th Street and 116th Street on Manhattan’s East Side. Phase 2 would incorporate two short existing tunnels already constructed during an aborted attempt to build the line in during the 1970s.

Actual construction, however, wouldn’t begin until 2019 at the earliest, the “back end” of MTA’s proposed 2015-2019 five-year capital plan, following necessary environmental impact studies and design work. MTA also hopes to complete Phase 1 of the project, now well under way and due to be completed in 2016, but Prendergast suggested that planning for Phase 2 allows the agency to maintain momentum for the project.

Area rail advocates hailed the news, noting New York is among the handful of U.S. cities attempting to expand its existing underground rail transit networks, however modestly, even as other nations, particularly China, commit heavily to such investments.

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