A major cut in funding for the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway will force New Yorkers to wait even longer for the project's completion. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
It will be a while longer before the MTA resumes blasting the bedrock beneath the Upper East Side to continue building the desperately needed Second Avenue subway line.
The MTA Wednesday slashed $1 billion from the project over the next five years after Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio cut a deal to pay for the transit agency's five-year construction program that fell short of what was requested.
Transit experts bashed the decision.
"It makes no sense to cut back on a project that is well underway," said Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. "We've already built out three stations of the Second Avenue Subway. We should be moving it up through Harlem over the next few years."
The line's first three stations on the East Side are scheduled to open by the end of next year. The new funding reduction affects the next phase, building the line north through three new stations to 125th Street.
"If the city and state thought that it was important, the MTA would respond to that and build it out faster. They're only doing what the city and state are signaling, which is that this is not as important as it was," Gelinas said.
The cutback reduced the project's budget by about two-thirds to $535 million, which will pay for engineering and other studies.
"We have to do the design work, the planning for it. We need to go through environmental reviews. We're going to need to acquire the necessary property to figure out where stations, station access points, air ventilation areas are going to be," siad MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg.
But no blasting or tunneling, as originally envisioned just a year ago.
The decision is upsetting Congress members Carolyn Maloney and Charles Rangel of Manhattan. who've long campaigned for building a line that, at full length, is supposed to stretch from Harlem to Hanover Square. They said, "This ‘go slow’ approach to the Second Avenue Subway is a huge mistake."
Riders NY1 spoke to at 116th Street and Second Avenue said they would be surprised to see a station up at this corner any time soon.
"I've been here all my life, and I've been hearing it since the '80s," said one rider.
"The money always seems like it's running out," said another.
On that point, there is no dispute. The Second Avenue Subway has been on the drawing board since 1929.