Several elected officials criticized the stalling of the Second Avenue Subway's extension to East Harlem and asked for a new timeline for the project in a letter to the MTA yesterday, after the agency reduced capital funding to the second phase in its four-year plan and said tunnel boring would not begin until after 2019.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Charles Rangel said it was "disappointing to know that this project is once again being short-changed," in a letter that posted 15 questions about the next phase of the project.

Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the MTA, said the agency is "committed and full speed ahead on bringing the Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem," adding that "it takes longer than four years in the City of New York" to start with virgin land and end up with a tunnel.

"So there was no point in keeping a billion dollars in the capital program for it if we were not able to spend it," he said.

Lisberg expects construction work on the second phase to commence early in the next capital plan after 2019, but couldn't give more specifics.

State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who represents East Harlem, said he hopes the MTA will restore the funding to the project.

"The MTA's decision to omit $1 billion dollars from the Second Avenue Subway plan defers the dream of those in East Harlem," he said in a statement, "which would provide economic access and opportunity to one of the lowest income communities in New York City. "Separately yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said it would send a bad message if the subway project is completed on the Upper East Side, but stalls in East Harlem.

"Widespread congestion, slowdowns, and stoppages are now a fact of daily life for the East Side's one existing subway line, and expanding capacity onto a new subway line is the only real solution," she said in a statement.