New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing the end-of-the-year deadline set by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hard in recent days, saying it’s become about more than the long-delayed Second Avenue subway — it’s about the faith people have in government.
“Nobody believes it’s going to be done on time, nobody,” the Democratic governor said in a radio interview this week. But, he added, “if we can get it done on time. … if we can open that thing up at the beginning of the year, maybe people will start to say once again, “Wow. Maybe we can do something.”
The Second Avenue subway, seen as crucial to alleviating traffic on one of the world’s busiest transit systems, has been star-crossed since it was first envisioned by the city’s transportation board in 1929. Those plans were derailed by the stock market crash a few months later.
It wasn’t until 1972 that ground was finally broken on the project. But again, a financial crisis in the nation’s most populous city in the 1970s put to a halt to work. In the 1990s, two powerful U.S. senators from New York were able to secure vital federal funds. But then there were years of bureaucratic hurdles: zoning changes, environmental studies and pre-construction work to clear the city’s underground of pipes and cables.
In 2007, the major tunneling work began on the $4.4 billion project that’s now set to open: a four-station, nearly 2-mile expansion of an existing subway line from Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street to 96th Street, with stops at 72nd and 86th streets in between. .
It was supposed to be completed in 2013.