Opening on January 1: The Most Expensive Subway Ever Built

There will be a lot of hoopla when the Second Avenue Subway opens in Manhattan on the first day of 2017. Some writers are making sure that one important detail isn't getting lost in the celebration.

2 minute read

December 29, 2016, 2:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Second Avenue Subway

robert cicchetti / Shutterstock

"On January 1, the Second Avenue subway extension will open about 100 years after it was first proposed — or at least, a little bit of it will, running from 63rd Street to 96th Street," writes Josh Barro.

According to Barro, the critical component of the story about America's newest large infrastructure project is the cost: at $4.45 billion for two miles, the project is "the world's most expensive subway ever built."

"The bad news is we have been overpaying for our underground infrastructure for stupid reasons," writes Barro. "The good news is we can avoid overpaying in the future with smarter, more strategic choices."

The article goes into a feature-length detail to back those claims, citing the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, opened earlier this year at the cost of $4 billion as another prominent example of the same set of problems. With both these examples in mind, argues Barro, "[t]he main thing that seems to set apart American transit projects is engineering choices — especially choices to build bigger stations than necessary, with more complicated designs than necessary, deeper underground than is necessary."

Vincent Barone provides a similar critique in a separate article released before the subway's opening. Baron's coverage explains the viewpoints of transportation experts who "believe that the comparatively high price of subway construction in New York City could, in the short term, hinder further necessary expansion needed to support its growth." 

Thursday, December 29, 2016 in Business Insider

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