The long-awaited expansion of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway has received a $3.4 billion boost from the federal government, ensuring the second construction phase will finally progress.
Extending the subway line from 96th Street to 125th Street in East Harlem, the extension features three additional subway stations to serve an estimated 300,000 New Yorkers.
“Every dollar we need to build this is now here,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced at a news conference in Harlem on Saturday, November 4th, highlighting the significance of the federal funds for the $7.7 billion subway project.
The full funding grant agreement was unveiled last week by Schumer and Representative Adriano Espaillat, culminating in a celebratory signing event attended by high-profile figures, including United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Governor Kathy Hochul, and MTA Chair Janno Lieber.
The first phase of the subway project concluded in 2017, and while no start date has been declared for the new phase, it is anticipated to take roughly eight years. Despite the former Trump administration’s verbal support, the subway project lacked formal approval until now.
Governor Hochul had recommitted to the subway project’s continuation in 2021.
Preparation for the construction includes relocating existing utilities—water, sewer, and electrical lines—beneath Second Avenue. The MTA is currently planning the massive undertaking, although they have not yet released information on the expected road and transit closures accompanying the construction phase.
The project’s scope includes not only the new subway stations but also the ancillary structures and vital connections to the existing Lexington Avenue line.
The project comes amidst scrutiny of the MTA’s project costs, as a recent investigation compared the project’s expenses unfavorably with similar undertakings in Europe.
Responding to concerns about the potential future obstacles that could derail the project, Buttigieg reassured the public, saying, “We’re determined not to let that happen, but it is something that’s on our radar.”
Meanwhile, Lieber pointed out the cost-benefit analysis of the project, asserting the economic efficiency of the subway expansion despite the high costs associated with construction in New York City.
Absent from the proceedings was Mayor Eric Adams, whose name was notably seen on an unoccupied chair amid an ongoing federal investigation into his campaign contributions.