96th Street entrance to the Second Avenue Subway, via MTA/Flickr
On Valentine’s Day, The Source, a long-running store on Third Avenue that sold everything from stationary and household cleaning products to cards and candles, closed its doors for good. Since early January, when the owner hung a going-out-of-business sign in his window, he had been telling Upper East Siders shoppers that he was shutting down for two reasons: rising rents but the drastic decline in business brought about by the Second Avenue Subway’s opening in January 2017. Although one might assume that a business like The Source is really a victim of Amazon and the rise of other online retailers, the increasing vacancy rates along Third and Lexington Avenues on the Upper East Side over the past year appear to confirm his speculation. As much as the Second Avenue Subway has been good news for businesses in Yorkville, its opening seems to have dealt a devastating blow to businesses located just west of the new line.
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Construction workers giving a tour of the Second Avenue subway; photo via the MTA on Flickr
The exorbitant construction costs of building transit projects, coupled with project delays, could make the New York region lose jobs and businesses to other global cities that are completing transit projects in a more timely, and economical, fashion. A report released on Tuesday from the Regional Plan Association (RPA) says high-costs and delays are ingrained in every part of the public-project delivery, including too-long environmental reviews, inaccurate project budgets and timelines and a lack of communication with labor unions. In their report, the RPA analyzed three projects and their costs and delivery issues: the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and the extension of the 7-train.
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Construction workers giving a tour of the Second Avenue subway in 2015, photo via the MTA on Flickr
Even as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has cut costs on basic maintenance, they have allowed trade unions, construction companies and consulting firms to negotiate exorbitant deals on transit projects, with little intervention from officials. According to an investigation by the New York Times, labor unions have secured deals requiring construction sites be staffed as many as four times more workers than anywhere else in the world. Construction companies have increased their projected costs by up to 50 percent when bidding for work from the MTA and consulting firms have convinced the authority to spend an excessive amount on design and management. Caught up in the bureaucracy of the industry, neither public officials nor the authority have attempted to contain the spending.
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TodWhen the city first got a look inside the new Second Avenue Subway stations ahead of the line’s New Year’s Day 2017 opening, one of the shiniest, most colorful elements was the collection of newsstands. Ten months later, however, the kiosks still sit empty, decked out in the signature marketing of rainbow polka dots. According to the New York Times, the MTA says it’s selected an operator for the newsstands, and though they won’t reveal who, claim that they’ll open soon. But is the fact that Q train riders seem overwhelmingly unaware and unaffected by the lack of newsstands a sign that they’re not actually wanted or needed in a time when newspapers and magazines have been replaced by tablets and iPhones and candy and sodas with organic oatmeal and Juice Press?
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, Thu, September 21, 2017
When the Second Avenue Subway opened this past New Year’s Day, it was nothing short of a miracle. Not only had the $4 billion infrastructure project been 100 years in the making but in the months leading up to its deadline, there was much talk about delays related to the system’s “rigorous testing schedule” not being met. As it turns out, the testing wasn’t met; the Times tells us that when the train opened on January 1st, “the fire alarm system was still being tested and more than 17,000 defects found during inspections had not been fixed.” And eight months later, the train is still operating under a temporary safety certificate.
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As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Second Avenue Subway’s long-awaited opening, it’s the perfect time to step back and marvel at the $4 billion infrastructure project. Join 6sqft senior editor Dana Schulz for a tour with the Municipal Art Society about the history, art, and architecture of the Second Avenue Subway. Taking place on Saturday, September 16th, the two-hour event will explore why it took nearly 100 years for the train’s wheels to get rolling, how it was designed, and what engineering feats set it apart. Guests will also view the impressive collection of public art from Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Vik Muniz, and Jean Shin, learning about these contemporary artists and the significance of their work.
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Republican mayoral candidate, Paul Massey, unveiled a transit infrastructure plan Monday, that included an idea to create a G train loop that would travel to Manhattan to help commuters during the 15 month-L train shutdown next year. Although little details have been revealed, his plan would presumably travel through Midtown on the F train route, loop back into Queens on routes used by the M and R train and then reconnect with the G at the Court Square stop in Long Island City. While a notable idea, according to Crain’s the MTA looked over Massey’s plan and said its implementation would be impossible.
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Just a month after opening on the first of the year, the Second Avenue Subway had eased congestion on the Lexington line by 11 percent. Now, nearly five months in, that figure has more than doubled, with ridership on the 4/5/6 decreased by 26 percent and a whopping 40 percent during peak morning hours. Moreover, Second Avenue’s average weekday ridership is up from 140,000 to 176,000 passengers, an increase which has prompted the MTA to add two additional train trips during rush hour come this November.
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Earlier this year, President Trump, a lifelong New Yorker, hired two NY-based developers to head an infrastructure commission, which oversees spending on his proposed $1 trillion plan to improve the country’s bridges and roads. Despite this clear connection to the Big Apple, the president refuses to say whether he will include two major transportation projects for the city, both of which his proposed budget defunds, as the New York Times reported. As of now, Trump has proposed eliminating a program that would build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River and a program which extends the Second Avenue subway in Manhattan to East Harlem.
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In a city where hundreds of interesting events occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Ahead Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer shares her top picks for 6sqft readers!
Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day around the corner, and Times Square is proving that Love Trumps Hate with a day of weddings, engagements and of course public art. Brookfield Place is celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year with a site specific installation by Amy Kao, and the New York Transit Museum is celebrating the long-awaited opening of the Second Avenue Subway. The Center for Architecture is highlighting 20 talented African American Architects, and there’s a 6,000-pound ice spectacle to be found in Central Park. More details on these events and a flurry of others ahead.
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