Tag Archives: NY City Second Avenue subway

Stop delaying the Second Avenue subway

Gov. Cuomo likes to be the responsible one — the pragmatic protector of New York City against Mayor de Blasio’s purported back-to-the-’70s policies. But now it’s Cuomo who’s helping the mayor take us back to the bad old days.

The governor has just postponed the Second Avenue Subway, something that last happened 41 years ago. And he doesn’t have the excuse that New York had back then: Gotham was practically bankrupt.

If this is how we treat our important investment projects in the good times, what will happen when the bad times return?

Will we ever get a real Second Avenue Subway?

For nearly a century, the project has been a barometer of New York’s fiscal and civic health. City planners first proposed the line from downtown to the Harlem River in 1929, just in time for the stock-market crash and the Great Depression.

Mid-century politicians kept promising to revive the idea, but didn’t get around to it until 1968.

The city and state were booming, and to relieve “enormous congestion” on the Lex, Gov. Rockefeller OK’d the plan, plus a “new Bronx line” to connect to it.

Six years later, the city went bust, and the state was saving us from bankruptcy. Mayor Abe Beame killed the project in December 1974. Four months later, he promised the end of construction was just a “deferment,” with construction to start when the money for it turned up.

That wouldn’t happen for . . . another 33 years. In 2007, toward the end of the biggest economic boom the city has seen in modern history, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg broke, or re-broke, the ground. As early as next Christmas, the first three stations of the new subway will open, all on the Upper East Side.

But this subway line was supposed to be 16 stations. The next phase of Second Avenue should go up to Harlem. And eventually, the train is supposed to go down to Wall Street (we seem to have given up on The Bronx).

But not anytime soon. Last week, Cuomo’s MTA signed off on a plan to delay tunneling for the project, from sometime in the next four years to sometime in the five years after that.

Why? The MTA and the city are telling transit advocates that it’s not money, but time. They just can’t start the work fast enough because they have to buy up property and do design and engineering work first. Plus, they lost a year in construction work as the pols dithered over the funding plan, anyway.

Maybe — but the more obvious culprit is money. Delaying the subway will “save” the state and city $1 billion over the next four years. Indeed, in its official capital-plan document, the MTA lists a lack of “funding availability” as the first reason for the delay.

Without this cut, the “fully funded” $29 billion investment plan that Cuomo and de Blasio keep touting for the MTA simply doesn’t work.

Already, the “fully funded” plan depends on vague cost savings, plus $7.3 billion from the state and $1.8 billion from the city, money neither the mayor nor the governor has identified.

So Cuomo slashed $1 billion from Second Avenue, and gave the city $5 million instead to “study” yet another unfunded subway on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. That way, Cuomo has enough money to keep paying to bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central — a $10.2 billion project that will consume nearly $3.1 billion over the next four years, or 70 percent of the MTA’s expansion budget.

A perfectly fair trade, if you’re our slightly clueless mayor, who never busies his head with pesky numbers.

It’s not the end of the world if we break ground on the northern part of Second Avenue in 2021 instead of 2019.

But what happens next? What if, say, East Side Access costs even more — consuming yet more capital starting in 2020? Or what if the economy crashes? That’s not an unreasonable assumption, considering the last recession ended nearly seven years ago. Even without a recession, the MTA faces a $175 million deficit that must be filled starting little more than two years ago.

If Second Avenue is a little bit expendable now, it will be very expendable then.
Maybe Lex-line commuters will see real relief sometime in the next century?

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

Twitter: @nicolegelinas


The Second Avenue Subway Sinatra Is Missing

New York City’s Second Avenue Subway has been underway for so long that it even has it’s own folk heros.

Gary Russo of Queens, a.k.a the Second Avenue Subway Sinatra, has been missing since last week, according to the NYPD. 54-year-old Russo, a union ironworker, was last seen a week ago Tuesday, shortly after midnight, at his home in Howard Beach. His family reported him missing on Monday, and the investigation is ongoing.

Russo first eased our MTA-induced pain back in the summer of 2011, when a reader spotted him crooning with a portable amp on his lunch break outside of the Second Avenue Subway construction site at 73rd Street. The perpetually delayed project was particularly noxious at the time, which made Russo all the more endearing. That August, his uncanny cover of “Summer Wind” went viral, with more than a million hits in one week. Here he is, performing next to an equally-endearing handwritten sign that reads “FORGET ALL THE NOISE,TRAFFIC, AND THE IMPACT OF THE 2ND AVE SUBWAY ENJOY THE MUSIC.”

ABC News quickly caught on, and by November Russo had co-written a self help book called Don’t Die With Your Song Unsung. (From the description: “If you’re so stuck doing what you need to do that you can’t find the time to do what you love, let Gary’s story inspire you to change your perspective, set goals, and take action to achieve them.”)

Indeed, it seems that Russo’s aim has always been—in addition to performing in Sinatra cover shows—to help others achieve their latent dreams. “I have always felt there was a true artist hidden inside of me,” Russo writes on his website. “Don’t be afraid to share your talent with the world. It’s never too late to follow your heart. You never know what life has in store for you.”

This January, the Huffington Post did a mini-profile on Russo, noting that he had been going through a divorce and “fighting depression” when he took up the Sinatra gig. According to the news website, singing on his lunch break was a way for Russo to “exorcise his demons.”

According to the NYPD, Russo is 5’9″ and about 180 pounds.



The karaoke-loving ironworker — dubbed the “Second Avenue Sinatra” — who went missing nearly a month ago was found dead in an apparent suicide less than a mile from his Queens home, according to police.

Gary Russo, 54, a former Local 40 ironworker who in 2011 was helping to build the Second Avenue Subway, vanished from his Howard Beach home just after midnight on July 28.

He had been reported missing to authorities less than a week later and hadn’t been heard from since.

The Sinatra singer had been feeling blue after a recent breakup with a girlfriend, a source said.

Then about 2 p.m. Friday, officers discovered Russo’s body dangling from a rope on a tree by a near Spring Creek Park, police said.

The late hardhat gained notoriety four years ago when he belted out Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin standards during his 30-minute lunch break at the Upper East Side construction site.

For days in the sweltering August heat, Russo would lug his Karaoke gear into work with him and perform for co-workers and passersby in front of a sign that read, “Forget all the noise, traffic and the impact of the 2nd Ave. Subway. Enjoy the music.”


New York City’s SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY (Part 2)

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.

2ndAveUnderground12122014Every 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.

Find out about Children, Teens and Parents and Fair Promise

New York City’s SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY (Part 1)

New York City’s SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY (Part 3)

Transcontinenal Railroads, Chinese High Speed Rail, California High Speed Rail and the 2nd Avenue Subway in New York City

What is wrong with this picture? NOTHING! It is an example of something getting done.

The US Transcontinental Railroad was built between 1863 and 1869. Lincoln didn’t say “Let’s study it”, he said “Let’s build it”. In building the Transcontinental Railroad. What if THEY had to follow current environmental, employment, etc laws? What if they got sued by every town for either going through it, or not going throuh it.

I saw a good article about how the Chinese built their high speed rail system. Picture showed a bunch of nice condos underneath a viaduct. The owners did not know what was coming until a Red Army construction battalion showed up one morning. And they talk about the Chinese corruption. Understand the Transcontinental Railroad was pretty crooked too?

In 2008, President Obama said he was going to build high speed rail. See any of it? California is the worst example. They have spent billions of dollars on study and planning. Maybe by the Year 2020 they will have a few miles of track running from nowhere to the middle of nowhere.

Another example of rail construction is the Second Avenue Subway in NY City. The need for one arose in the late 1930’s when they scrapped the elevated railway to sell scrap metal to Japan. Actually, it is a very complicated story . The Third Avenue elevated lasted until 1955, wiuth a “promise” to build a new subway. It left the East Side of New York with poor transportation and pushed an unreal number of riders onto the Lexington Avenue Subway. Plans for a Second Avenue subway existed as early as 1929 (but never any money). There was some construction in the 1970’s that was halted for “lack of money” in 1975. 20 years later, in 1995, it was realized that the need for the subway was worse. But instead of treating it as a revival of an old project, it was treated as a new project with years of studies and deal making, until work finally resumed in 2007. 12 years is a long time to jump start something that had already been started. Plus, it can be asked why it took 20 years to get back to this. Finally, it hasn’t helped to get this done that money from the 1951 and 1967 bond issues that should have been committed to this was gone and it was considered appropriate to issue a third bond for the same project when taxpayers are still paying on the first two.

Groundbreaking for the original IRT Subway in NY City was in March of 1900. In October, 1904, trains were running between the original City Hall Station and West 145th Street. It was like this: build the thing, put up a sign, collect money.

Why do we have such a problems doing what we once did and an “underdeveloped” country can still do: (1) existing infrastructure; (2) labor unions – labor was cheaper a century ago and nowadays we care about frivolous issues such as “vacation time” and “health care”; (3) OSHA; (4) environmental concerns. While construction techniques have become more simplified and affordable, the political needs for a massive capital construction project has become significantly more complex.

Maybe Robert Moses could have built it?