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— Angela Cotey
It’s taken 80 years, but MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) has finally started construction on the Second Avenue Subway project. Last month, the agency broke ground on a $3.8 billion first phase, which calls for extending the subway system from 105th to 62nd streets by 2013.
The entire 8.5-mile, 16-station line will be built in four phases. The second-phase extension will run from 105th Street to 125th Street and Park Avenue; third phase, from Houston Street under Second Avenue; and fourth phase, from Houston Street to Hanover Square.
NYCT awarded a $337 million contract to S3 Tunnel Constructors, a consortium comprising Skanska USA Civil, Schiavone Construction Co. and J.F. Shea Construction, to construct the first phase. That phase will be funded through a combination of Federal Transit Administration grants and local funds provided by the New York State Transportation Bond Act and MTA Capital Program.
First proposed in the 1920s, the Second Avenue Subway has become a critical project since the 1940s and 1950s, when the elevated train lines on Manhattan’s east side were demolished. Since then, NYCT’s Lexington Avenue Line has become the agency’s most congested, and the M15 bus route that operates along First and Second avenues has become the busiest in the country, carrying 60,000 passengers daily and running every 90 seconds during peak periods.
Once complete, the new subway line will relieve congestion on the Lexington Avenue Line and bus route, and enable passengers to transfer to other subway lines and MTA Metro-North Railroad.
The Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) isn’t wasting any time looking into extensions for its yet-to-be-constructed commuter-rail corridor. Just weeks after signing operating agreements with BNSF Railway Co. for the line’s 40-mile Minneapolis-to-Big Lake, Minn., first phase, the authority announced last month it would conduct a feasibility study for a proposed second phase.
The agency is seeking to extend the line from Big Lake to Becker, St. Cloud and Rice. The extension originally was included in Northstar’s first phase, but in 2003, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued more stringent cost-benefit requirements for funding new transit projects. So, NCDA scaled back the route to run from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis.
During the four-month study, NCDA will project ridership figures, analyze FTA funding guidelines, and determine potential environmental issues, freight railroad negotiation issues and station designs.