NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday gave CBS2 an exclusive look at the round-the-clock race to finish the Second Avenue Subway.
Cuomo said you can blame him if the state misses the end-of-the-year opening deadline for the new leg of the Q Train. But he told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer exclusively that he is planning a New Year’s Eve party right on the platform.
The 72nd Street station on the new Second Avenue Subway was a beehive of activity Tuesday, as 2,000 people worked 24/7 in a frantic attempt to have the trains running on the new $4.4 billion extension of the Q Train line by New Year’s Eve.
Many say the state will not meet the deadline. Cuomo is not one of them.
Kramer: “Governor Cuomo, look around. There’s lots of work that has to be done. You’ve got escalators. You’ve got wires. You’ve got stuff – 18 days before you have to have the trains run through.”
Cuomo: “Look, you know it’s the glasses you look at life through. I see nothing. I see little odds and ends here and there that have to be cleaned up. I think we could almost open tomorrow.”
Cuomo gave Kramer a guided tour through the station, saying there is much to show he is right. The marble walls of an airy mezzanine are done, the tracks and signals are completed and tested, and Kramer was there as escalators were being tested. She also got a ride in the elevator.
Kramer: “Is it worth it having people work 24/7 around the clock to make the deadline?”
Cuomo: “There is something to meeting a deadline, yes. People are held accountable; held responsible. In the real world, when you have a deadline, you have a deadline.”
Riders’ groups said they are fine with the cost of a round-the-clock push.
“Riders have been waiting for this subway since the 1930s,” said Nick Sifuentes, deputy director of the Riders Alliance. “I’m glad they’re doing what they have to to get it done.”
Project manager Charles Hall told Kramer that Cuomo has been holding their feet to the fire.
“He’s held everybody accountable,” Hall said.
Cuomo laughed when Kramer told him that Mayor Bill de Blasio is one of those who is skeptical about the subway opening on time.
“I know this is going to be such a shock that this actually does open on time, Any New Yorker will be, ‘It’s not going to open on time.’ Fine, let’s prove them wrong,” Cuomo said. “I will make you any legal wager you would like to make that this is going to be open on January 1. If I have to push the train down the track, that train is going.”
And while the governor said you can blame him if the subway does not open on time, he said he has another reason for the intense push – getting people to believe in the other megaprojects he has got on the drawing board.
Kramer did not take Cuomo’s wager about the on-time opening. She reasoned, why bet against a man who has already got the champagne?
and The first phase of the Second Avenue subway from 63rd Street to 96th Street will be used for a new route for the Q Train. The W Train has been revived to take over the old route of the Q into Astoria, Queens.
Construction on the $4.5 billion project began in 2007.