No, this is not a repeat blog post. We always tell you to stay tuned and this is a good reason why.
Rumors were going around, and not that we spread gossip we just blog about what we hear - that the Second Avenue Subway line was unlikely to start construction again any time soon. Specifically, it was said that the continuing progress of the 8.5 miles of track running down Manhattan’s east side from 125th street to Hanover Square, would never be finished.
We understand why there’s doubt. The line has had endless starts and stops over the decades. The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opened in 2017, yet it had been on the planning board for over 100 years, since 1920! The global pandemic saw major reductions in ridership which sent transit agencies into a financial tailspin and almost resulted in the cancelation of work on the project.
Now the plans are back on and the East Harlem extension will use a 10-block-long tunnel that was constructed back in the 1970s between 110th and 120th streets. The goal was to open the extension by 2027, but that date will be pushed back.
How did the turn-around happen? MTA's budget deficit was reduced by the federal stimulus and could be further reduced by President Biden's upcoming infrastructure bill if it is passed by Congress.
The MTA is making its plans which include pushing ahead with plans to seize more than a dozen privately-owned properties in East Harlem. Most of the properties that the MTA needs are three-story, four-story walk-ups that are largely vacant.
If you’re thinking eminent domain at this point, you’re not alone. The MTA will take advantage of the state's eminent domain law, which allows governments to take private properties if they will be redeveloped for public use. As we all know, eminent domain is nothing new in New York, especially in local development. Cuomo considered eminent domain for the Penn/Empire Station Complex overhaul and Bayonne mayor Jimmy David supported the use of eminent domain in a Bayonne, New Jersey healthcare project.
Governor Cuomo has his sights on infrastructure and even before the new announcement, he vowed that the state would complete the project.
Eminent domain might slow the Second Avenue Subway Project down a bit, but after 101 years, there doesn’t seem to be much of a rush. Stay tuned for what we are sure will be more news!