NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After years of planning and debate, it remains to be seen if the Second Avenue subway will be running before the new year.
The MTA board got another update Monday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it looked like phase one will open on schedule by the end of this month.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said he was “cautiously optimistic” Monday that the subway line will be tested, finished and rolling by Dec. 31.
Construction is complete at four subway stations and elevators and escalators have been tested, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported. The MTA’s independent engineering consultant told the board that testing for all other systems will be done by Christmas Eve.
Cuomo’s chief of staff Melissa DeRosa tweeted pictures of the governor as he got an inside look at the work still being done on Sunday.
Last week, he said he was cautiously optimistic that the $4.5 billion first phase of the project will be completed by the Dec. 31 deadline. Cuomo talked more about the project on the radio show “The Cats Roundtable” on Sunday.
“The Second Avenue subway was supposed to be done by the end of this year. Some people thought we should move the deadline, I said no, we should stick to the deadline and we’re going to work like hell to make it,” Cuomo said.
He said it’s now a 24/7 push to meet their goal.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “It’s a complex project. It’s a $4 billion project but we’re going to give it, we’re going to work every day between now and Dec. 31, I can tell you that, to make sure we hit the deadline.”
As 1010 WINS Al Jones reported, Prendergast said it’s about more than just the subway.
“It’s not just the issue of making sure the entrances are done, the stations are done, the trains are running. Do as much as we can to restore Second Avenue to the condition it was in before we started the condition which was quite a few years ago,” he said.
But with large parts of the area above and below ground still torn apart, many commuters like Artis Goff have their doubts that phase one will be done in 19 days.
“The end of this year? I don’t think so,” Goff told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “Hopefully they get this done quick because I need to get around.”
“I’d be very surprised,” another commuter said. “Just feels like they have a long way to go before they get there.”
The first phase of the project, which has seen budget challenges and major construction delays, will extend the Q train from 57th Street and Seventh Avenue across town to 96th Street and Second Avenue.
The W Train has been revived to take over the old route of the Q into Astoria, Queens.
Rider Lu Ming Haio, one of the 200,000 riders the new Q line would serve daily, says he’s also cautiously optimistic.
“I don’t know, but I’m hoping,” he said. “I’m giving it 60 percent, I don’t know.”
The cost of having crews working around the clock to meet the end-of-year deadline remains to be seen.
CBS2 reported the project has already had several budget challenges and major construction delays.
Last year, the MTA said the second phase of the project, which would extend the line up to 125th Street in East Harlem, will be delayed beyond 2019. It’s also slated to add a new T train, which will run from 125th Street all the way downtown.
The ultimate goal is to alleviate some of the overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue line. For more about the project, click here.