2nd Avenue Subway – 8 years in the Making

After failed beginnings and an overboard project budget, the silver lining for phase one of the Second Avenue Subway is it’s now a complete, compelling piece of dearly-needed infrastructure, delivered on time

By Dani Neiley
Photography by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin and MTA Capital Construction / Rehema Trimiew

The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opened for revenue on January 1, 2017, and the resulting fanfare has been good, though the amount of time taken, and amount of money spent, still begs the question: why does it take so long and cost so much to complete badly needed infrastructure projects?

“New Yorkers have waited nearly a century to see the promise of the Second Avenue Subway realized,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a press release, “and after unrelenting dedication from thousands of hardworking men and women, the wait is over.”

The Second Avenue Subway project is most notable for its size, as the project marks New York’s City’s biggest expansion of the subway system in 50 years. The completion of phase one is just the beginning, with four more phases planned down the line. In March of 2016, phase two began production: it “will extend the subway project to East Harlem in Manhattan,” according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) website, and, “The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway provides service from 96th St. to 63rd St. as an extension of the Q Train.”

As a result of the extension, there is now less overcrowding (by as much as 13 percent, or 23,500 fewer riders – a statistic provided by the MTA) and fewer delayed departure/arrival times on the Lexington Avenue line. Residents on the far East Side of Manhattan now have better, quicker access to mass transit thanks to the first phase of the project, and travel has been improved for city and suburban commuters alike, according to the MTA’s website.

Upon completion, the subway will be a full-length line and will give riders an improved travel experience, along with the following features: 8.5 miles of new subway service along 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan of extended service along Manhattan’s East Side, a connection to the 63rd Street and Broadway Lines via the Broadway express tracks, 16 new subway stations, and easy transfers to other subway lines, including to commuter rail lines.


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