After Decades of Delays, Second Avenue Subway Finally Starts Rolling

The nearly 2-mile segment adds stations along Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd streets and a new connection to an existing subway line at 63rd Street

2ndAveSubwayInterior
Associated Press

What to Know

  • The much-anticipated Second Avenue subway line opened Sunday, Jan. 1 at noon
  • The route is expected to carry about 200,000 riders daily
  • The nearly two-mile segment cost $4.4 billion to make and was initially supposed to be completed in 2013

New Yorkers' long wait to take a subway under Manhattan's far Upper East Side ended Sunday when three new stations on the Second Avenue line opened to the public.

The first train left the station at East 96th Street at noon after a speech by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed to meet a New Year's Day deadline for the long-delayed project.

"I hope when you go down there you really feel how much hard work and time and patience it's taken to get to this point," Cuomo said. "It's incredible. This is not your grandfather's station."

The nearly 2-mile segment adds stations along Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd streets and a new connection to an existing subway line at 63rd Street.

Seen as crucial to alleviating congestion in the nation's biggest subway system, it is on a line expected to carry about 200,000 riders a day. The entire system transports about 5.6 million riders on an average weekday.

Three new stations will help with crowding on the city's notoriously packed Lexington Avenue lines, which are almost always full during the morning and afternoon rush hour.

"The Lexington line is always super crowded," said Corey Moses, a commuter. "i actually work off of the 6, so just being able to have an extra line to get home and get to work faster is really great."

The mood was festive on the first train, with many riders wearing hats that read Second Avenue Station. Others were shocked that the subway line is finally complete, after nearly a century in the making.

"It's exciting, looks great," said straphanger Lara Feoktistonf. "We've been waiting ten years, more than ten years so we're excited." 

"Disbelief, just disbelief [that the station is open]," said Martha Dorn. "We moved to New York in 1965 and they were talking about it then."

For smaller straphangers, having the second avenue line up and running means a smoother and faster commute. Brenden Doyle, 9, was amazed at how clean the stations are compared to others around the city.

"It gets me to school faster," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "It gets me to Coney Island faster!"

The city's transportation board first envisioned a Second Avenue subway in 1929, but the stock market crash and the Great Depression derailed the plan.

Ground was broken in 1972, but a fiscal crisis in the city slammed the brakes on the project again. The project finally got into high gear when major tunneling work began in 2007.

The $4.4 billion section opening was initially supposed to be completed in 2013. Delays stemmed partly from concerns about construction noise.

Next, the line is slated to expand north into East Harlem. No date has been set for starting that phase of construction.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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