The Second Avenue subway line has a few more stops before opening in 2016, and East Side elected officials are getting nervous that the oft-delayed project could be set back again.
A quartet of politicians—Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Councilmen Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, and Assemblyman Dan Quart—held a press conference Wednesday to warn of five issues that could postpone completion of the first phase of the new subway line. In ascending order of worry, they listed the 69th Street entrance to the 72nd Street station, track installation, electrical work, the project’s budget, and—their top concern—the 86th Street entrance.
Problems with the electrical work would delay other aspects and push back the completion date for the entire project, and work on the 86th Street entrance is severely behind schedule, the officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has ordered an increase in manpower and extended work hours to double shifts and weekends for the entrance to open in August 2016 as planned.
Track installation for the subway line is on track, but previously delays have officials worried about a recurrence. An entrance to the 72nd Street station was relocated from a storefront at 301 E. 69th St. to the sidewalk because of technical issues; the entrance has a target completion date of September 2016. Finally, change orders and tight scheduling could increase costs to $45 million a month from $35 million, which would eat into the MTA’s contingency funding.
The subway project, which originally was to be completed decades ago, has become infamous for false starts, cost overruns and missed deadlines.
To date, the project has generated $842 million in wages, created 16,000 jobs, and produced $2.87 billion in economic activity, according to Ms. Maloney’s office. The first phase of the project will carry more than 200,000 riders daily and alleviate congestion on the Lexington Avenue line, the most overcrowded subway route in the nation.
Despite the red flags, Federal Transit Administration Executive Director Matthew Welbes believes that the MTA can make its December 2016 completion deadline. “Based on our data, the project is trending toward an opening sometime in 2017,” he said. “If the MTA does the aggressive schedule management steps planned, they may very well achieve that December date.”