New York MTA Capital Projects
The New York MTA is by far the largest transit agency in the United States, carrying 1 out of every 3 American transit riders. It is also the only American city that I have given a 10 out of 10 for ease of getting around without a car . Despite a continuing financial problem, the MTA is in the process of building several major new capital projects to improve New York. These projects include the extension of subway line 7 to Manhattan's Far West side, the extension of the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Station, and the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway.
Extension of Line 7 to Manhattan's Far West Side
Line 7 is in the process of being extended 1.5 miles west to a new terminus at the corner of 11th Avenue and West 34th Street. This extension, which will significantly increase subway access to the far west side of Manhattan, is costing $2.1 billion and is expected to open in December of 2013. One new station is planned at the corner of 11th Avenue and 34th Street, although the tail track extends all the way down to 27th Street, which makes it theoretically possible that an additional station in that area could be built in the future. In the provided documents it is difficult to determine if the 7 train will stop again at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, or if passengers will continue to have to use the existing underground pedestrian path from the A/C/E station at 42nd Street to the Times Square station in order to access the 7. In addition to the increased access to places like the Javits Center, this extension is likely going to improve reliability for the 7 line by allowing for more train storage space at the Manhattan terminus.
East Side Access - Extension of the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Station
When the East Side Access, the largest single public transit project in the country, opens in September 2016 passengers on the Long Island Rail Road will for the first have direct access to Grand Central Station and the east side of Manhattan. This project, which is estimated to cost $7.3 billion, will add eight new tracks at Grand Central Station and 22,000 square feet of retail space. New tunnels will be constructed from the LIRR Mainline tracks in Queens, under Amtrak’s Sunnyside Yard and LIRR’s Existing Rail Yard, connecting to the existing 63rd Street Tunnel just beyond Northern Blvd. In Manhattan, new tunnels will be bored from the existing junction with Metro-North railway tracks at Second Avenue and 63rd Street, west and then south, under Park Avenue and Metro-North Railroad’s four-track right of way.
Second Avenue Subway - It Is Never Too Late For Improved Transit
A long time ago there was rapid transit service along both Second Avenue and Third Avenue - but it provided by elevated trains, not subways. After the Second Avenue El was removed in 1942 and the Third Avenue El was removed in 1956, only the Lexington Avenue subway provided rapid transit service in the eastern section of Manhattan. Although Second Avenue subway proposals first surfaced in 1929, and a more serious proposal saw construction actually begin in the late 1960s (only to be suspended in the 1970s due to financial problems), it has only been recently that a construction has begun in earnest along Second Avenue.
A subway along Second Avenue on the East Side of Manhattan has frequently been planned but never actually moved beyond the planning phase until now. In the first phase, the line will be build from Second Avenue at 63rd Street to 96th Street with new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Street (there is an existing station at 63rd Street). The extension is estimated to cost $4.4 billion and will be complete by December 2016. Operating as an extension of the Q train - in phase one only - the new line is expected to serve 213,000 daily riders and decrease crowding on the Lexington Avenue lines by 13%. In future phases the line will be extended up into Harlem and down Second Avenue into lower Manhattan. When the subway is extended south of 63rd Street new line "T" will be introduced.
Despite the large price tag of each of these projects - a large part of which is being paid for by the FTA's New Starts program - they each will significantly improve the transit environment in New York City. I only hope that the MTA will be able to finally overcome its financial difficulties ( learn more about how the state of New York funds transit ) - perhaps by eventually succeeding in implementing a Manhattan congestion charge similar to London's - and have enough funding to operate not only these three projects but the rest of their service effectively.