With less than three months to go before it's set to open, the Second Avenue Subway has reached another milestone. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
Beneath the Upper East Side is a fresh sign the Second Avenue Subway line is nearing completion.
The MTA began running test trains up and down the line on Sunday.
The project can't end soon enough for business owners like Faroq Salah along Second Avenue.
"I hope. That's what I'm waiting. I'm waiting for that time," Salah said.
Salah's deli at 73rd Street is barely surviving after almost 10 years of construction at his doorstep.
Salah: Go down too much.
Vertuccio: Business has gone down too much?
Salah: Too much. Working for the rent.
Vertuccio: Working just to pay the rent.
Salah: That's it. That's it. And no money.
Construction of the $4.5 billion line resumed in 2007 after being halted in the 1970s by the city's fiscal crisis.
The MTA says the running of the trains is another in a series of tests to meet its December 31 deadline for launching the new service, which will have stops at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets.
Those who live and work near the construction zone have mixed opinions about whether the end really is near.
"I'm very optimistic, yeah. I am, yeah. I think they're doing a great job here," said one person in the area.
"I hope it works out. I don't know. My opinion, I don't think it's going to be open," said another.
Last month, contractors powered up the third rail, another milestone. But obstacles remain. The MTA is behind schedule testing escalators and elevators at the 72nd Street stop. And last month, an independent engineer revealed the MTA needs to pick up the pace testing fire alarms and communication equipment.
Despite that, the agency says it is still on schedule.
"It is 10 years already," Salah said.
Each of the new subway stations are at various stages of completion. The MTA has not said yet whether it would consider skipping the Second Street station if it is not ready to open by the end of the year.