Today history is made, as January 1, 2017 marks the official public opening of the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway. The New York City transit endeavor has been in the works for nearly a century, and finally after countless delays and an eye-popping $4 billion bill, straphangers on the far Upper East Side will have access to three brand new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets.
Just before midnight yesterday evening, Governor Cuomo, MTA CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, city and state pols, members of President Obama’s Cabinet, local community members, and many of the workers who helped build the new line’s massive underground tunnels and stations, took the line’s inaugural ride.
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If you can’t wait until January 1st to scope out the new Second Avenue Subway line, today Governor Cuomo is holding an “open house” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the 96th Street station. Cuomo debuted the station yesterday afternoon at a press event in advance of the official New Year’s Day opening, offering select New Yorkers a glimpse at the completed work. The open house is the first time the greater public will have access to the Second Avenue Subway since the start of construction.
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There are countless relics from the subway’s past hidden beneath NYC, but one of the most intriguing will reveal itself again in just 9 days when the Second Avenue Subway (SAS) invites straphangers to swipe their Metro cards for the first time. As Quartz noticed this past summer, a peculiar loop cutting through Central Park appeared when the MTA released their new subway map touting the addition of the SAS. Reporter Mike Murphy immediately questioned the mysterious addition that would move the Q train further north without issue (“I felt like people would have noticed if the MTA had been ripping up Central Park to build a tunnel,” he wrote). After a bit of digging, he found out the half-mile stretch was built over 40 years ago and, at least according to archival maps, it’s only been used twice since then.
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If you thought yesterday’s news that the Second Avenue Subway would meet its deadline and open on January 1st was too good to be true, you were partially correct. Though service will in fact begin as of the new year, a press release from the Governor’s office tells us that for its inaugural week, the line will only run from 6am to 10pm, a blow to late-night commuters and those visiting the city for the holidays.
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If a sparkling new line isn’t cause enough to celebrate, once the Second Avenue Subway opens on January 1st, 2017, millions of New Yorkers will also be treated to several stretches of world-class art while navigating the 96th, 86th, 72nd, and 63rd Street stations. As the Times first reports, the MTA has poured $4.5 million into beautifying the stations with contemporary tile artworks by famed names Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Vik Muniz, and Jean Shin.
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Recent weeks have brought conflicting reports of whether or not the Second Avenue Subway would meets its December 31st deadline, but Governor Cuomo has announced that the public will be able to swipe their cards on the new line as of January 1, 2017! The stations will be officially open for business on New Years Eve, at which time the Governor will host a group of dignitaries to celebrate the nearly 100 years-in-the-making project. As the Daily News reports, this also means that there will be no partial opening as previous accounts speculated, and all stations (96th, 86th, and 72nd Streets, along with the transfer point at 63rd Street), entrances, and elevators will be ready to go. “We believe in the team, and that’s why we’re saying we’re going to open Jan. 1. It’s a leap of faith, but I’m willing to take that leap of faith,” said Cuomo.
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On Monday, the Governor’s office put out a statement that Cuomo was “cautiously optimistic” that the Second Avenue Subway would open on time by the end of the month. Yesterday, MTA chairman Tom Prendergast echoed this statement, but was quick to point out that the long-awaited line would only open on December 31st if all stations were up and running (previous reports talked of a partial opening), reports the Daily News. “Track’s done, signals are done, we’ve run trains, we’ve exercised the signal system,” he said. “We’re talking about finish and escalators, elevators — things of that nature in the station.”
Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s chief of staff, said Friday that Governor Andrew Cuomo was “cautiously optimistic” about a December opening for the long-awaited Second Avenue subway project, according to AM New York. After several weekly visits to the under-construction 72nd Street site, the governor appeared confident that the MTA would be able to meet the project’s December 31 deadline. U.S. representative Carolyn Maloney had also expressed confidence in the Second Avenue subway meeting its year-end deadline.
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There are just seven weeks left for the MTA to wrap works on the 2nd Avenue Subway if they want to meet their December 31st deadline. According to the Times, at yesterday’s MTA board meeting, officials relayed that an “unprecedented” effort would be required in order to wrap Phase 1 of the project on time.
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Despite MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast’s seemingly unwavering optimism that the Second Avenue Subway will open on time, it’s still not clear if the line’s stations will be ready for their December ribbon cutting. According to the Times, following a Wednesday MTA board presentation outlining some of the outstanding issues (and the agency’s commitment to smoothing them out over the next eight weeks), Kent Haggas, an independent engineer for the project, offered up a very somber outlook. As he told the paper, two of the three stations set to open December 31st have fallen behind, and that the system’s “rigorous testing schedule was not being met.” More alarmingly, he added that progress to date would need to be almost tripled on a weekly basis if the MTA is to meet its deadline.