By Philip Newman
A jubilant U.S. Rep, Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) gave the MTA a final grade of A-plus Tuesday for its progress on the first leg of the Second Avenue subway and said the opening of the massive project was imminent.
“The MTA tells me that as of Oct. 1 the project was 98 percent complete,” Maloney announced at a recently completed plaza at 63rd Street and Third Avenue. The new entrance to the existing station at 63rd Street is part of the project, which involved building three new stations on the Second Avenue line between 96th Street and 63rd Street.
“In just a few short months more than 200,000 riders will ride the Second Avenue subway on day one,” Maloney told transit advocates, elected officials and business owners on the avenue.
The congresswoman said in a press release issued Tuesday “Phase 1 is expected to be completed by December 2016,” a statement that countered widespread pessimism that the MTA would not meet the year-end deadline.
The price tag for the nearly 100-year-old project is $1.3 billion.
“The Second Avenue subway will have a huge impact on people’s lives.” she said. “We’ve passed the point where there is any doubt that it will be finished.”
The MTA said the new subway will take a load off the jammed Lexington Avenue line, which carries 40 percent of all riders in the entire subway system, and deliver passengers to the West Side without requiring transfers to other lines.
Maloney, who began a campaign to revive the Second Avenue subway project in the mid-1990s, said it was “high on my list of things I wanted not accomplish when I first was elected to Congress.
Under Phase 1 the 63rd Street Plaza is 99 percent complete, while the 96th Street station is 97 percent complete, she said. The 86th Street and 72nd Street stations are 94 percent complete.
The Q train will serve the new Second Avenue line and the W train will be brought back to transport Queens riders who have used the Q.
The project was first mentioned in 1919 by New York Public Service Commissioner Daniel Turner. The Great Depression of the Thirties foiled the first plans for the subway, while a new attempt that was made after World War II failed. After years of false starts and the building of some tunnels, the first phase of the Second Avenue subway began construction in March 2007.