The first (of four) phases of the infamous Second Ave. subway is ready to begin construction thanks to the approval of $1.3 billion in federal financing, enabling the long-delayed line to be built from 92nd to 63rd streets in Manhattan.
U.S.Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters "said the financing for the Second Avenue subway would be the second-largest federal expenditure ever on a single mass transit project. The largest is for construction of a Long Island Rail Road link to Grand Central Terminal, which is also under way. The federal government has pledged $2.6 billion to that project.
Most of the additional money for both the subway line and the commuter rail project will be raised by the sale of bonds.
Plans for the Second Avenue subway call for the line to eventually stretch from Harlem to the financial district. It is to be built in four phases, but there is no schedule for the other three sections of the line. Ms. Peters said the transportation authority would have to apply to her agency for financing of the subsequent phases.
Ms. Peters said the federal money would pay for about one-third of the work on the first phase, which is expected to cost more than $4 billion. The first leg is scheduled to open in 2014, and it will run as an extension of the Q line.
The Second Avenue subway has been a dream of mayors, straphangers and urban planners since at least the 1920s. In the 1970s, a few isolated sections of tunnel were built, then covered over and abandoned when the city ran out of money.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said that it is confident it will be able to complete the first phase of the subway."