Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access Declared “Highly Recommended” in Federal Government Report

Feb 10, 2005
Press Release
 

Rep. Maloney Hails Progress on Vital Infrastructure Improvements in Her District

WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan and Queens) today hailed the Federal Transit Administration’s decision to designate East Side Access and the Second Avenue Subway as “highly recommended” projects, the only projects in the entire nation to receive that designation. The F.T.A. made the recommendations in its Fiscal Year 2006 New Starts Program Report. In addition, the Report announced that the F.T.A.’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.

 

New Starts is a highly competitive federal program that gives significant funding to projects that “improve mobility, promote economic growth, relieve congestion and improve air quality.” Only 15% of the 287 projects authorized by TEA-21 - the federal legislation that lists projects desired by Members of Congress - were evaluated in the New Starts Report -and nearly 30% of the projects evaluated in the Report received a failing grade.

Congresswoman Maloney, who represents New York’s 14th Congressional District, through which both of the proposed projects would run, said that "the federal government’s decision to make the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access the only two 'highly recommended' projects in the nation is proof of the huge economic and transit benefits of the projects. This is excellent progress and great news for New York, because billions of dollars in federal funds, tens of thousands of jobs and a huge spark to the City’s economy are at stake in the fight to keep the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access on track .” Maloney also noted that “the fact that the Second Avenue Subway is slated to share $158 million in New Starts funding and East Side Access, which is a few years ahead in the federal process, is on course to get $390 million should warm the heart of every New York commuter.”

BACKGROUND

Second Avenue Subway: The Second Avenue Subway would be New York’s first new subway line in generations. It would relieve massive congestion on the most overcrowded subway route in the nation - the 4, 5, and 6 IRT trains on Manhattan’s East Side.

Congress approved $2.5 million for the project for Fiscal Year 2005, $2 million in '04, $2 million in ‘03, $2 million in ‘02 and $3 million in 2001, for a total of $11.5 million. In addition, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver secured $1.05 billion in funding for the project from New York State in 2000.

Recently, the MTA designated a portion of the full-length Second Avenue Subway as a minimum operating segment (MOS). The MOS would run from 96th to 63rd Street, where it would connect with the N/R tracks and continue down to Wall Street and Brooklyn. It is projected to cost $3.8 billion.

The estimated cost of the full length Second Avenue subway is $16.8 billion, while the economic growth for the city as a result of the project, as estimated by the Regional Plan Association, includes the creation of approximately 70,000 jobs during construction and an additional 86,000 jobs after construction, and that the project could generate more than $14.4 billion in annual Gross City Product (a measure of all the goods and services produced in the city), $7 billion in additional wages, and $1.26 billion in economic activity per year in the city. The RPA’s report is available at: https://www.rpa.org/pdf/2ndAvenue.pdf.

When completed, the Second Avenue Subway will carry approximately 600,000 people daily. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) completed its environmental review of the project in the fall of 2003 and received a Record of Decision from the FTA during the summer of 2004. In the fall of 2004, the MTA concluded preliminary engineering and is now in the process of initiating the project’s final design and construction.

In December of 2001, the MTA Board approved a $200 million contract for preliminary engineering for the full length Second Avenue Subway project (which has now been completed). This work included the design of the tunnel structures from 125th Street to lower Manhattan and the rehabilitation of the existing tunnels to conform to new tunnel construction. It also included the design of station envelopes, utilities, track work, mechanical systems, life safety systems, communications systems and maintenance facilities and storage yards.

East Side Access: The project would bring approximately 160,000 new passengers, including 5,000 residents of Western Queens, into Grand Central Station. Congresswoman Maloney has been a strong supporter of the East Side Access project, and has worked with her colleagues in the New York Delegation to procure Congressional earmarks for the project in each of the last 8 years.

The LIRR, the bus and subway system and the highways are all at or near capacity at rush hour. Congestion leads to increased commuting times and greater difficulties getting to work, which, in turn, compromises New York City’s job base (and Long Island’s residential base). Penn Station is already at capacity. The increase in commuters is expected to push trains coming into Penn Station to 127% of capacity.

Manhattan has experienced a tremendous growth in new office space since World War II - nearly 213 million square feet with 62% of that new building happening in East Midtown (nearly 132 million square feet). At the same time, more people who work in Manhattan are living in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Employment in Manhattan is projected to grow 21% by 2020, with the size of the labor force living in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens expected to increase by 28% during that period. 60% of the 260,000 daily Long Island commuters work on the East Side. (LI Business News, July 21, 1997)

LIRR trains enter Manhattan on the East Side through the East River Tunnels at 33rd Street, but passengers cannot disembark until they reach Penn Station on the West Side. They must then double back to reach their destinations on the East Side, adding 15-30 minutes each day to their commutes.

After 9/11, the MTA issued a report stating “It was clearly the flexibility and capacity of the subway system in Lower Manhattan that helped the MTA through this ordeal. That makes more critical than ever the two important system capacity expansion projects (East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway). The report also says: “The tragedy of Sept 11 has taught the MTA a critical lesson that will guide its longer-term transportation strategies for decades to come. Had the MTA been directly affected at either of its two rail stations (Penn Station or Grand Central) or on the sole subway line on the East Side of Manhattan, its ability to evacuate over 500,000 commuter rail customers who live east or north of Manhattan and another 700,000 who take the subway on the East Side of Manhattan would have been severely diminished.”

East Side Access is expected to provide new service to residents of Western Queens, as well as to commuters who are trying to reach the growing Long Island City business district. The new Sunnyside Station would be located on the west side of the Queens Boulevard bridge, near Skillman Avenue.

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