Thank you dear readers for your appreciation of our first article on New York City’s Second Avenue Subway. Because of YOUR response, we will be running more series of articles like our All board Florida / Florida East Coast.And then, of course our beloved Utica Comets.
Let’s start with the late William Ronan. Stretching back to 1965 when he was appointed chairman of the then-Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Ronan headed numerous landmark projects, such as the purchase of the Long Island Rail Road, the takeover of multiple commuter lines to create Metro-North, and the beginning of construction on the Second Avenue Subway (still, obviously, ongoing). He went on to head the Port Authority, and later served as a dean at NYU.
Next a video progress report on the Second Avenue Subway. Now rounding out its umpteenth year in the works, the Second Avenue Subway is plodding towards the completion of its first phase, a stretch between 63rd and 96th streets which also includes the extension of the Q train. This video proves that indeed progress is being made (blastporn included), but a walk above ground on the uptown corridor may suggest otherwise. Barriers and re-routed sidewalks have become seemingly permanent fixtures, and are at the very least a prophetic warning as to how the avenue will change with the completion of the subway. This New York Times video explains in reasonable depth. The first portion of the subway is expected to be complete in December of 2016.
· Promise of New Subways Has West Siders Excited and East Siders Skeptical [NYT]
Details have emerged of the MTA’s floated 2015 to 2019 capital plan The plan allots $1.5 billion for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue subway, which includes the extension of the Q line from 96th Street to 125th Street where it will adjoin MetroNorth. The plan also includes $20 billion for subway maintenance, and $2 to $5 billion for rider enhancements like swipeless entry and countdown clocks. The major snag in the plan? It’s built on hypothetical money. The capital plan has yet to be approved by the MTA or the Capital Program Review Board in Albany.
Every once in awhile, the MTA likes to release some photos of the Second Avenue Subway construction, as if to say, “Hey world, we promise that this is a thing that is still going on.” Well, another batch has just surfaced, via the agency’s surprisingly active Flickr account, revealing updated glimpses of tunnels, scaffolding, tarps, and more in the sections that will become the 86th Street and 96th Street stations. Progress is, in fact, being made?even rails have arrived!?and the work is apparently on schedule.
Say goodbye to Second Avenue’s “muck houses,” the bulky white temporary structures at 69th and 72nd streets that have occupied half the roadway while the initial stages of blasting and station construction proceed underground. The WSJ reports that even though the first phase of the T line won’t open to the public till 2016, the unsightly boxes?bemoaned by residents, ground-floor shops, and haters of truck traffic (a.k.a. everyone)?are nonethless being removed.
The Loss of Rapid Transit on New York’s Second Avenue
The First Avenue Association letterhead from 1940 listed the group’s Directors. Of the thirty-two directors, a few were simply elite professionals — lawyers, judges, business managers — with no obvious vested interest in the demolition of the el. Twelve of the directors, however, clearly held high positions at real estate firms. Seven others held positions at private firms, whose business was not listed, that may also have been involved in real estate. One director, an architect, also would be involved in real estate development. Two directors were bankers, and three, treasurers of major institutions — representing, therefore, large investors.
Realtors, investors, and architects all would profit from the property development that would accompany the transformation of Second Avenue into a higher-class neighborhood. One director, the Chairman of the Board of Bloomingdales, also would benefit from the gentrification of the neighborhood near his expensive East Side department store. The director with the most vested interest in the el demolition, however, was the Secretary-Treasurer of the East Side Omnibus Corp. With the el demolished, and no subway along the route to replace it, many passengers would rely on buses along Second Avenue for transportation — buses that the East Side Omnibus Corp. could operate. There is no other indication that the First Avenue Association was party to an anti-rail transit conspiracy, however. The vast majority of the association’s directors were involved in real estate. They simply hoped to increase in property values along the corridor.
The First Avenue Association agreed that the el was a traffic obstruction. The association did not believe that the el should be replaced with a subway, and then torn down.
Rather, it argued that the el should be torn down immediately, to improve automobile access. The real aim of the association was not to improve accessibility to Second Avenue, but to reduce traffic on First Avenue.