A Long Line Coming

Governor Cuomo says Second Avenue Subway will open January 1, 2017

East News Transportation
Governor Cuomo says Second Avenue Subway will open January 1, 2017. Seen here: the 72nd Street Station in September, 2015. (Courtesy MTA/Flickr)
Governor Cuomo says Second Avenue Subway will open January 1, 2017. Seen here: the 72nd Street Station in September, 2015. (Courtesy MTA/Flickr)

It’s beginning to look a lot like an on-time opening for the Second Avenue Subway.

Despite pictures of tunnels shrouded in scaffolding, and multiple missed project deadlines, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) assured a skeptical public this fall that phase one of the system’s newest line would be open by New Year’s Day. Should New York expect a new east side subway in the new year, or is the new line still a pipe dream?

First there were reports in October that the new tunnels, which would add stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets, were too narrow to accommodate trains; workers had to file concrete passages to size. Now, it appears the odds and ends of bringing the $4.5-billion project to fruition are holding up opening day.

When The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) reached out to the MTA about a media tour of the line at press time in mid-December, a spokesperson said that no tours were planned at the time, but the paper should attend the opening event at a to-be-announced future date.

The line, in the works since the 1920s, has been delayed by the Great Depression, a world war, and good old-fashioned politicking, so its latest temporal setback is hardly a surprise, according to transit advocates.

The most recent deadline for the subway, which includes a Q train extension from 57th Street–7th Avenue to the new 96th Street station, was set seven years ago. After recent mistakes, the MTA is taking extra precautions to ensure every component is functioning adequately: When it opened in 2015, the 7 train extension to Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side was plagued with structural deficiencies—most notably leaky ceilings that turned busy walkways into perilous butt-to-floor encounters.

Despite the obstacles, Governor Andrew Cuomo is confident the line will be open right as Times Square revelers usher in 2017. On Twitter, he urged New Yorkers not to drink the hater-ade: “Right now, there is a lot of cynicism and skepticism about our projects. We’re going to restore credibility. #2ndAveSubway will open Jan 1.” He is allegedly pressuring the MTA to finish up quickly, but as we usher in 2017 there’s still no opening to look forward to—and this is only phase one.

When complete, (most likely after everyone reading this has died), the whole 8.5-mile line should carry straphangers from East 125th Street to Hanover Street in the Financial District.

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