NYC Hopes New Subway Line Will Happen

By RICHARD PYLE
The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 11, 2007; 5:10 AM

NEW YORK -- On Thursday, shovel- and pickax-wielding officials are to turn over the first ceremonial clods of dirt to mark the start of construction of the city's Second Avenue subway line.

It wouldn't be the first time.

There have been at least three such ceremonies since the idea of building another north-south subway line serving Manhattan's east side began rattling through the tunnels of municipal bureaucracy more than 80 years ago.

Call it a dream, an unfulfilled fantasy, deja vu all over again.

In 1972, 1973 and 1974, mayors, governors and others joined in groundbreaking ceremonies. But each time, no sooner did the project get moving than it came to a screeching halt.

That won't happen again, if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can help it.

"The prospects are exceptional," said Elliot Sander, the MTA's chief operating executive. "We have three-fourths of the funding and enormous political will to complete the first phase of the project, and a strong consensus in the business and civic communities and among senior policy officials in transportation _ all of whom believe this is a critical step to position New York City for the future," he said in a telephone interview.

If and when completed, the Second Avenue subway would add 8.5 miles and 16 stations to a venerable network of more than 800 miles of track that carries 5 million riders on weekdays in four of Gotham's five boroughs, excluding Staten Island.

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said the key is a phasing plan that breaks the massive project into manageable segments.

The first phase, from 96th Street to 63rd Street, with three stations, will cost $3.8 billion and open in 2013, Soffin said. Some 200,000 weekday riders are expected right from the start, he added.

The cost would be split between $1.3 billion in federal funds and $1.65 billion in state and city money, with nearly $1 million yet to be funded.

If that segment goes into operation, the MTA expects to proceed with other phases that would ultimately extend the line from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in lower Manhattan. Costs of the entire project and a completion date are not yet known, Soffin said.


© 2007 The Associated Press