Rep Maloney , Rep.-Elect Espaillat and Local Electeds Call on Federal Government to Include Second Avenue Subway to Harlem in the New Starts Project Development Program

Dec 15, 2016
Press Release

NEW YORK—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined with Congressman-elect Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and local elected officials to call on the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to include the Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 Project in New Starts Project Development (PD) under the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program.

Today Reps. Maloney and Rangel are sending a letter to FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers urging her to approve MTA’s Project Development application for Phase 2. Swift FTA approval of the MTA’s application is needed to move forward with Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway and limit delays. Full text of the letter can be found below.

“Phase 1 is nearly complete, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to complete the full build subway,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “I am delighted that the MTA is moving forward with Phase 2 even as Phase 1 nears completion.  Approval for the MTA to enter New Starts Project Development for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway will allow us to build on the current momentum and ensure that Phase 2 ultimately gets the federal funding it needs. The MTA Board has already approved the design and environmental consultant contracts for Phase 2, and the plan is for both of these teams to start work soon. Our letter urges the FTA to approve the request to enter project development as quickly as possible.  New Yorkers in upper Manhattan desperately need the Second Avenue Subway.”

"With overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue subway line and East Harlem residents walking up to a mile to get to the subway, we need a Second Avenue subway to create transportation equity and economic opportunities for all,” said Congressman-elect Adriano Espaillat. “The Federal Transit Administration's inclusion of this project in the New Start Program Development is critical to Phase Two the Second Avenue Subway being built in a timely manner."

"As we celebrate the long awaited opening of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway, it is pertinent that we focus on funding and smoothly transitioning to Phase 2,” said Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez. “Relieving the most highly used transit line in the entire nation in an area where over 80% of its residents use the subway is a top priority.  We look forward to a quick and steadfast transition to work on Phase 2."

The first phase of the Second Avenue line is scheduled to open later this month, and will connect the 63rd St./Lexington Ave. station with new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th St./Second Ave.  Phase 2 will extend the new line north from the Phase 1 bulkhead at 105th St. through East Harlem to 125th Street and 5th Avenue with new stops at 106th and 116th Streets and Second Avenue. Phase 2 is expected to have 101,000 riders on day one.  When complete, the Second Avenue line will run 8.5 miles from 125th Street to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan, and will provide relief for the nation’s most overcrowded subway line, the Lexington Avenue line.


Full text of the letter sent by Reps. Maloney and Rangel below:


December 15, 2016


Carolyn Flowers

Acting Administrator

Federal Transit Administration

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE

Washington, DC 20590-0001


Re: New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Request to Enter Project Development – Second Avenue Subway Phase 2

Dear Acting Administrator Flowers,

                We understand that on November 21, 2016, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) requested entry into New Starts Project Development (PD) under the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program for the Second Avenue Subway (SAS) Phase 2 Project.  SAS Phase 2 will be a new heavy rail line operating between East 96th Street/Second Avenue and East 125th Street/Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, and will run through the districts we represent.  Phase 1, from 63rd Street/Third Ave to 96th/Second Avenue is nearly complete and is due to open imminently.  We hope that you will approve the request expeditiously so that there can be a seamless transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2. 

                As you know, the SAS has been on the drawing board since the 1920s.  There were three previous groundbreakings for the project and two elevated trains were torn down in expectation of the SAS.  Now, for the first time in history, the MTA is poised to open a portion of the SAS for revenue service.  We hope you will approve the MTA to enter PD for SAS Phase 2 in order to continue the momentum and ensure that the next phases move forward.  The MTA has built enormous institutional knowledge during the course of constructing SAS Phase 1, and it is important that those teams stay intact with a quick transition to SAS Phase 2.

                SAS Phase 2 will bring additional transportation capacity to East Harlem, a working class neighborhood with insufficient transportation alternatives.  The area has been undergoing significant growth, with new large residential buildings, new schools and a burgeoning commercial area near 125th Street.  The MTA projects that SAS Phase 2 will attract 101,000 daily riders and will decrease crowding on the Lexington Avenue IRT 4, 5 and 6 line (Lex Line) by 10%, building on the benefits of SAS Phase 1.  The Lex line is currently the nation’s most overcrowded subway and the relief is desperately needed.

                SAS Phase 2 will make use of existing tunnel segments between 99th and 105th Streets and between 110th and 120th Streets built during an earlier attempt to build the SAS, finally making good use of government funds expended decades ago.  Additionally, Phase 2 is critical for creating new connections for passengers between Westchester, Putnam or Dutchess counties or the local airport and creating inter-modal connection with Metro-North Railroad.  We understand that the MTA will do significant community outreach during this process, and will work to elicit community input, especially as it relates to the new station locations.

                The MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan includes $1.5 billion for the SAS Phase 2.  We are concerned that any delay in entering into PD would make it impossible for the MTA to use the allocated funding during the current capital plan.  The MTA Board has approved award of the design and environmental consultant contracts for SAS Phase 2, and we understand that they expect to give the go ahead to proceed to both teams in December 2016.  The FTA’s quick approval of this project for PD will allow the MTA to move forward with this essential project.

                Phase 2 is a critical project for our communities and we hope that you will approve this project’s entry into PD so that it can move forward as quickly as possible.  Thank you for your kind attention to our concerns.  We look forward to working with you on SAS Phase 2.


Very truly yours,


CHARLES B. RANGEL                                                                       CAROLYN B. MALONEY

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress



Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway project has created 16,000 jobs, generated $842 million in wages, and produced $2.87 billion in economic activity. In the mid-1990s, Rep. Maloney began a campaign to resuscitate the Second Avenue Subway after the project had lain dormant for decades, and she has worked to include $1.3 billion in federal funding for the Second Avenue Subway in appropriations bills.

Project Timeline

  • 1919 – SAS was first mentioned in New York State Public Service Commission chief engineer Daniel Turner’s 1919  (Politico)
  • The Great Depression foiled the first Second Avenue subway plans.
  • After World War II, the idea for a Second Avenue Subway was revived and the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Els were torn down. In the 1950s, voters approved a half-billion-dollar bond issue for the Second Avenue Subway, but the money was not used for the subway.
  • 1972 - Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor John Lindsay, Congressman Ed Koch and M.T.A. chairman William Ronan actually broke ground on the Second Avenue Subway. Tunnels were built from 99th to 105th, from 110th to 199th and near Chatham Square. But the 1975 financial crisis put an end to further building.
  • 1991 – U.S. Secretary of Transportation was authorized under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act to review SAS along with other projects – no action taken
  • 1995 - Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) authorizes $5 million for SAS study on how to reduce Manhattan traffic
  • July 2000 - First federal funding – $3 million in FY2000
  • April 2004 - Second Ave. Subway Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published.
  • February 2005 - the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) designated East Side Access and the Second Avenue Subway as “highly recommended” projects, the only projects included in TEA-LU to receive that designation. The FTA made the recommendations in its Fiscal Year 2006 New Starts Program Report. In addition, the Report announced that the FTA’s 2006 budget will include $158 million in federal funds to be distributed to the Second Avenue Subway and five other projects from around the country, and $390 million for East Side Access.
  • April 2006 - Extended and Final Preliminary Engineering was completed. In April 2006, The Federal Transit Administration authorized the MTA to begin Final Design of Phase One of the project and the Final Design contract was awarded.
  • March 2007 - First Construction Contract Awarded (constructing the tunnels between 92nd and 63rd Streets, a launch box for the tunnel boring machine (TBM) at 92nd to 95th Streets, and access shafts at 69th and 72nd Streets)
  • November 2007 - Full Funding Grant Agreement authorizing $1.351 billion* in federal funds (*Thanks to grants through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program, the final amount of federal funds allocated to Phase 1 was actually $1.374 billion)