Friday, September 23, 2011

Major Milestone Reached on 2d Avenue Subway

After decades of proposals and designs and ideas, the MTA has finally finished digging the tunnel for the first segment of the 2d Avenue subway line that will run from 63rd Street up to 96th Street.

Excavation is only the first part of the job. The tunnel needs to be lined, track needs to be laid, and stations, utilities, and ventilation needs to be installed. The FRA isn't quite sure that the MTA will make its deadline for revenue service in 2016, and frankly I don't think they'll make it either. But it is coming eventually.

Now, this is hardly the first time that the MTA has put shovels in the ground to build the line; work began in the 1970s and several blocks worth of tunnel were excavated in the 1970s. Part of that construction will be utilized in phase 2 of the subway expansion from 96th Street to 125th Street, but the reason that the project stopped in the 1970s is a familiar one - financial problems.

The subway line is eventually supposed to stretch up to 125th Street and down to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan. Yet, there's no funding on the horizon to fully develop the line, and local politicians have been unwilling to set aside sufficient funding for this, which means that the MTA keeps adding to an already crushing debt load - a debt load that will eventually affect revenue service.

It was financial problems that curtailed the 1970s subway expansion effort, and it may again thwart a full buildout of the subway line.

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