Testimony of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney Regarding the Supplemental Environmental Assessment to the Environmental Impact Statement for Phase Two of the Second Avenue Subway

Jul 31, 2018
Press Release

"To begin, I think it is important to point out that the First Phase of the Second Avenue Subway has transformed the way people move around New York City. It offers an attractive alternative for people to travel from the East Side to the West Side, enabling Upper East Siders to have a one-seat ride to Times Square and the Theatre District. It provides Upper East Siders with a one-seat ride to Chinatown and Brooklyn. It also offers a one-seat ride to Penn Station and Port Authority, giving East Siders intermodal transportation options. The new subway has been a boon not just for the people who live adjacent to the line, but also for people who live elsewhere but need to reach the Upper East Side."

"The numbers illustrate how successful Phase One has been. It has reduced congestion on the Lexington Avenue 4/5/6 line by 28% overall and as much as 40% during rush hour. And in just over a year and a half of operation, ridership is up to nearly 180,000 a day. The New York City Department of Transportation reports that the Second Avenue Subway has slowed the use of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft in the Upper East Side. While the average use is up, the rise is significantly less than elsewhere in Manhattan or the city as a whole. Further, the subway has reduced traffic volumes and led to an increase in travel speeds along the route. I also understand that the Second Avenue Subway is helping local businesses as people move to be near the new subway line."

"Phase Two will bring additional benefits to one of the poorest neighborhoods in Manhattan. It will make it easier for people to reach jobs or get to school. As the Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) points out, the neighborhood through which Phase Two will run “is currently only served by one rapid rail transit line.” Redundancy is critical. Repairs to the Lex line would cripple transportation to East Harlem since there are no alternatives. It will provide intermodal transportation to and from Metro-North and the M60 bus that serves LaGuardia Airport. The Second Avenue Subway connection will encourage more people to access Metro-North at 125th Street, providing relief to Grand Central Terminal. It will also encourage more people to use the bus to reach LaGuardia Airport, since more neighborhoods will be easily accessible."

"I hope that the MTA will make use of lessons learned during the construction of Phase One – building muck houses to reduce the impact of soil and rock removal on the community, wetting down dirt so that dust is kept to a minimum on local streets, creating community advisory committees associated with each station so people have a place to go with complaints, creating email newsletters so people have a place to go to learn about upcoming construction. Dust was a significant issue for residents living adjacent to Phase One and I am pleased to note that the SEA includes a dust mitigation plan with a no-visible-dust policy. I am glad that the MTA plans to make use of already excavated caverns so that hopefully we can save some costs. I also hope that some of the people who were in charge of developing and constructing Phase One will be available for Phase Two."

"I would encourage the development of entrances and ancillary buildings in a way that does not leave dead space on the street. One of the biggest concerns raised by my constituents is that ancillary buildings that are purely mechanical ensure a drop in pedestrian traffic. If there is no reason for people to use the building, it reduces the number of people walking in the area, increasing a sense that the area is deserted and dangerous. My constituents suggested including retail space in the buildings, and I understand that there is thought of building housing on top of the buildings. I believe that this would be positive, if it can be done without delaying completion of the project."

"I am pleased to note that the design of Phase Two has been updated to incorporate new New York City Transit flood protection design standards. Area near the path of Phase Two were badly flooded during Superstorm Sandy, and it is critical for the MTA to implement state-of-the-art principles to protect against the flooding of caverns and the destruction of equipment. I am also pleased that the MTA is electing to use more tunnel boring machine (TBM) construction rather than the cut-and-cover method in the 2004 design. The more of the construction is below ground, the less impact on the surrounding community."

"One of the lessons that I hope will be learned is that we lose critical time if we do not being the preparation for the next phases before the current phase is concluded. I hope that the environmental work and preliminary engineering and design for Phase Three can be started while Phase Two is underway so that there is no gap between the end of one project and the construction of the next."

"We need to build the full-length Second Avenue Subway from 125th Street to Hanover Square; however, much more could be accomplished if the subway were to continue north and into the Bronx. I am pleased that this design includes a bellmouth structure that will permit future extension to the Bronx."

"In conclusion, it is encouraging to see the environment review nearing completion. I hope that the MTA will move forward expeditiously with preliminary engineering and design so that a full funding grant agreement can be executed in the near future. New Yorkers should not have to wait a decade for the completion of Phase Two."