By Philip Newman
Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Tom Prendergast agree that the opening of the Second Avenue subway is imminent, but neither is ready to assure straphangers that the long sought transit line will arrive with the year 2017 as scheduled.
Cuomo, who visited construction sites along the new line several times last week, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the Second Avenue subway meeting its deadline, He said he had previously considered a delay in the scheduled opening of the new subway but decided the MTA should hold to its original deadline of Dec. 31.
Prendergast told members of the MTA board Monday that he, too, was optimistic but could not guarantee the project would be ready at the end of the month.
Much of the remaining work on the project involves testing of equipment, transit officials said. Whenever the new line opens, it will climax efforts that began as early as 1919 in a great expansion of the then privately owned Independent Subway System, but an economic depression ended the project.
Between 1942 and 1955 the MTA tore down elevated lines on Second and Third avenues, causing great crowding on the Lexington subway, which now carries 40 percent of all subway passengers in New York City. New subway stations were built on Second Avenue in the early 1970s, but work was abandoned when the city nearly went broke.
The Second Avenue subway line cost approximately $4.45 billion and the latest round of construction began in 2007. The project is scheduled to be followed by an extension to 125th street in Harlem.
Q trains will run along Second Avenue from 96th Street to 63rd Street with three station stops along the way at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street. The W train, which was mothballed n 2010 during severe MTA cutbacks, has returned to Queens and replaced the Q train on that leg of its route. The new Second Avenue line is expected to carry about 200,000 riders a day, which will siphon off straphangers from the congested Lexington Avenue line.