Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday pledged to get the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway underway in 2022 — calling on the Biden administration to approve the MTA’s application for federal funding after a years-long delay state officials pin on the administration of former President Donald Trump.
“We are ready to go,” Hochul told reporters after a brief tour with Acting MTA Chairman Janno Lieber of a half-century-old tunnel that has sat unused since the MTA abandoned its first attempt at the project in the mid-1970s.
“We still need to get the approvals,” she said. “Our application’s in. We’re ready. If we get the approval in 2022, we’re ready to start.”
Democrats in Washington including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have promised to fund the project using money from the recent bipartisan infrastructure package. But the Biden administration has not approved the MTA’s grant application, which has been in limbo since its submission in 2018.
Disgrace ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo christened the Q train expansion up to 96th Street in 2017 after 10 years of construction. The project was the most expensive subway ever at a cost of $4.45 billion for 1.8 miles of tunnel. The next $6.29 billion phase will add stops at 106th Street, 116th Street and 125th Street by utilizing 16 blocks of exiting tunnels built in the previous century.
Hochul said the first three new stops served 200,000 riders pre-COVID and juiced the local economy on the Upper East Side, and that the next phase would create a similar boon for East Harlem. Official predict the next phase will serve 123,000 daily riders.
“This is the most transit-dependent community in the city of New York,” she said. “The goal is to make sure all Harlemites have what we call access and transportation equity.”
Trump repeatedly voiced his support for the second phase effort, but his administration declined to give it the go-ahead. MTA officials have not set a timeline for moving forward. Hochul said the cost rises with each day the feds fail to approve the funding.
“They know this is an urgent priority of ours,” Hochul said of the Biden administration. “Lost time means more money. If this had started in 2019, if the Trump administration had not delayed it, if the money had been there… it would’ve cost less.”
Testifying before state Assembly members earlier Tuesday, Lieber said the MTA had fallen behind schedule on its $55 billion capital program but was working to get up to speed.
He said the transportation authority hopes to have all $55 billion worth of contracts awarded by the end of 2024.