Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he “would bet” on the Second Avenue subway’s first phase opening before the year’s end.
After visiting the still-under-construction 72nd Street station on Friday, the governor appeared confident in meeting the project’s Dec. 31 deadline during a Sunday radio appearance on “The Cats Roundtable” with John Catsimatidis.
“We have a few weeks, and if I had to bet, John, and it was even money, I would bet that we make it,” Cuomo said. “We still have a lot of work to do. It’s a complex project … we’re going to work every day between now and Dec. 31, I can tell you that, to make sure we hit the deadline.”
The nearly $4.5 billion first phase of construction will bring the opening of three new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets. The megaproject has suffered critical construction delays, mostly focusing at the 72nd and 86th street stations. During a project update presented to the MTA board last month, it was reported that crews were still finishing the installation and testing of elevators and escalators at those stations.
Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s chief of staff, said in a statement Friday that Cuomo was “cautiously optimistic” about a December opening. The governor had been visiting the site “several times a week,” she said.
Sunday’s comments reflected a bit more hopeful Cuomo.
The subway line has been talked about for nearly a century. Construction on the project had suffered fits and starts over past decades due to lack of funding. Cuomo said during the interview that the “the incompetence and the delays are one of the things that lead to the disgust of the people of this state and this country.”
When the stations do open, the Q train will continue north up Second Avenue, where it will serve approximately 200,000 daily riders. The MTA has said that the new stations would help reduce the overcrowding, and the related delays, along the nearby Lexington Avenue line.
“The Second Avenue subway was supposed to be done by the end of this year and there was a move early on,” Cuomo continued. “People thought we should probably move the deadline. And I said, ‘No, we’re going to stick to the deadline and we’re going to work like hell to make it,’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Cuomo followed his Sunday interview with a tour of the 86th Street station. His office said that crews are now working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to deliver the project on time.
The MTA is expected to receive another project update during a committee meeting on Monday.