Second Avenue Subway

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"IND Second Avenue Line" redirects here. For other uses of "Second Avenue Line", see Second Avenue Line (disambiguation).
Second Avenue Subway
Second Avenue Subway Map vc.jpg
Planned routes of the NYC Subway Second Avenue Line. Phase I will offer Q service (yellow) to 96 Street.
Type Rapid transit
System New York City Subway
Status Phase I under construction, Phase II planned
Locale Manhattan, New York City, United States
Termini 125th Street
Hanover Square
Stations 16
Opening First phase: December 30, 2016; 16 months' time (2016-12-30) (projected)[1]
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority / MTA Capital Construction
Line length 8.5 mi (13.7 km)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 600 V DC third rail

The Second Avenue Subway (officially the IND Second Avenue Line; abbreviated to SAS) is a long-envisioned rapid transit subway line, part of the New York City Subway system. As of 2014, Phase I, a new line between the existing BMT 63rd Street Line and 96th Street and Second Avenue, is under construction beneath Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan. This first phase is scheduled to be opened on December 30, 2016,[1][2][3] and will serve approximately 200,000 daily riders when open. When the whole line is completed, which MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu says may be as early as 2029,[4] it is projected to serve about 560,000 daily riders.[5] As of May 21, 2015, the first phase of construction was more than 80% complete.[6]

The Second Avenue Subway has been a plan, and occasional construction project, since 1929. The reasons for the line's many false starts and delays are numerous and complex. The line is sometimes referred to as "The Line That Time Forgot".[7][8]

After several starts and interruptions, mostly because of lack of funds, the most recent and financially secure construction plan was launched when a tunnelling contract was awarded to the consortium of Schiavone/Shea/Skanska (S3) by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on March 20, 2007.[9] This followed preliminary engineering and a final tunnel design completed by a joint venture between AECOM and Arup.[10][11] Parsons Brinckerhoff is the Construction Manager of the project. This contract, and the full funding grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration, which was received in November 2007, is for Phase I of the project, consisting of two miles (3.2 km) of tunnel and three stations.[12] Phase I will be within budget, costing $4.45 billion;[13] the total cost of the 8.5-mile (13.7 km) line is expected to exceed $17 billion.[7]

A ceremonial ground-breaking for the Second Avenue Subway was held on April 12, 2007. The contractor prepared the initial construction site at 96th Street on April 23, 2007. A tunnel boring machine (TBM) was originally expected to arrive six to eight months after construction began, but the utility relocation and excavation required to create its "launch box" delayed its deployment until May 2010.[12] By May 2010, the TBM launch box was complete, and on May 14, 2010, MTA's contractors completed the TBM installation and turned it on.[14][15][16] On March 28, 2011, S3, having completed the west tunnel to 65th Street, began drilling for the east tunnel. The TBM completed its run to the 63rd Street station's bellmouth on September 22, 2011.[17]


Second Avenue Subway
Yard tracks & provision for future expansion to the Bronx
IRT Lexington Avenue Line
125th Street (proposed)
IRT Lexington Avenue Line
116th Street (proposed)
106th Street (proposed)
Line end for Phase 1
96th Street (under construction)
86th Street (under construction)
72nd Street (under construction)
63rd Street Lines
BMT Broadway Line
55th Street (proposed)
Lexington Avenue – 53rd Street  IND Queens Boulevard Line
42nd Street (proposed)
Grand Central – 42nd Street IRT Flushing Line
34th Street (proposed)
23rd Street (proposed)
14th Street (proposed)
Third Avenue BMT Canarsie Line
Houston Street
(proposed) Handicapped/disabled access
Second Avenue
IND Sixth Avenue Line
BMT Nassau Street Line
Grand Street (proposed)
Chatham Square (proposed)
Seaport (proposed)
IND Eighth Avenue Line
Hanover Square (proposed)
provision for future expansion to Brooklyn

Originally proposed in 1929 as part of a massive expansion of the Independent Subway System (IND), work on the line never commenced, as the Great Depression crushed the economy of the state and country. Need for the Second Avenue Subway line grew along with the population of Manhattan's East Side. Currently, the lone rapid transit option on the Upper East Side is the four-track IRT Lexington Avenue Line. The most crowded in the country, the line sees an average of 1.3 million daily riders, more than the entire Washington Metro system (which has the second-highest ridership in the U.S.) and more than the rail transit systems of San Francisco and Boston combined.[18] Local bus routes are just as crowded during various times of the day, with the surface Second Avenue Line, carrying the M15 and M15 SBS buses, seeing an annual ridership of 17.5 million, or a daily ridership of about 47,945.[19] The construction of the Second Avenue line would add another two tracks to fill the gap that has existed since the elevated IRT Second Avenue Line was demolished in 1940–42[20] and the IRT Third Avenue Line was removed in 1955–56.[21]

The city started planning, again, in 1945, to build the new subway and bought a prototype train (the R11) in 1949 for use on the new line.[22] New York voters approved bond acts for its construction in 1951 and in 1967. Money from the 1951 bond measure was diverted to buy new cars, lengthen platforms, and maintain other parts of the aging New York City subway system. The proceeds of the 1967 bond act were partly used to begin tunneling under Second Avenue. Digging began in 1972; however, a few years later, the city became insolvent.[23] "It's the most famous thing that's never been built in New York City, so everyone is skeptical and rightly so," said Gene Russianoff, an advocate for subway riders since 1981. "It's much-promised and never delivered."[24]

On November 8, 2005, voters in New York State passed the Transportation Bond Act, which will, among other projects, partially fund construction of the line. Its passage had been seen as critical to its construction. After warning that failure to pass the act would doom the project, MTA chairman Peter S. Kalikow stated that "Now it's up to us to complete the job" given its approval by a 55–45 percent margin.[25]

In August 2006, the MTA revealed that all future subway stations, including ones built for the Second Avenue subway, the 7 Subway Extension, and the new South Ferry station will be outfitted with air-cooling systems to reduce the temperature along platforms.[26] In November 2007, Mary Peters, the United States Secretary of Transportation announced that the Second Avenue Subway would receive $1.3 billion in federal funding for the project's first phase, to be funded over a seven-year period.[27]

Initial attempts[edit]

1919–41: Initial planning[edit]

The need for a subway line under Manhattan's Second Avenue was recognized shortly after the First World War. In 1919, the New York Public Service Commission launched a study at the behest of engineer Daniel L. Turner to determine what improvements were needed in the city's public transport system. The Second Avenue Elevated operated above Second Avenue north of the Queensboro Bridge from March 1880 until 1940, and south to downtown, part of the way on First Avenue, until June 13, 1942.[20] The Third Avenue Elevated operated a block to the west until 1955.[21] Turner's final paper, titled Proposed Comprehensive Rapid Transit System, was a massive plan calling for new routes under almost every north-south Manhattan avenue, extensions to lines in Brooklyn and Queens, and several crossings of the Narrows to Staten Island. Massively scaled-down versions of some of Turner's plans were found in proposals for the new city-owned Independent Subway System (IND).[28] Among the plans was a massive trunk line under Second Avenue consisting of at least six tracks and numerous branches throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.[29]

In 1929, the Board of Transportation of the City of New York tentatively approved the expansion, which included a Second Avenue Line with a projected construction cost of $98,900,000, not counting land acquisition. From north to south, the 1929 plan included four tracks from the Harlem River (where it would continue north as a Bronx trunk line with several branches) to 125th Street, six tracks from 125th Street to a link with the IND Sixth Avenue Line at 61st Street, four tracks from 61st Street to Chambers Street, and two tracks from Chambers Street to Pine Street.[29] Due to the Great Depression, the soaring costs of the expansion became unmanageable. Construction on the first phase of the IND was already behind schedule, and the city and state were no longer able to provide funding. A scaled-down proposal including a turnoff at 34th Street and a connection crosstown was postponed in 1931.[29]

Further revision of the plan and more studies followed. By 1939, construction had been postponed indefinitely, and Second Avenue was relegated to "proposed" status. The 1939 plan for subway expansion took the line not only into the Bronx (by now as a single line to Throggs Neck) but also south into Brooklyn, connecting to the stub of the IND Fulton Street Line at Court Street.[29] The United States' entry into World War II in 1941 halted all but the most urgent public works projects, delaying the Second Avenue Line once again.[29]

1945–69: After World War II[edit]

The Second Avenue El, looking south on First Avenue from 13th Street during its demolition in September 1942

Finally, in 1945, plans for the Second Avenue Subway were again revised. The southern two-track portion was abandoned as a possible future plan for connecting the line to Brooklyn.[29]

A 1947 plan once again connected the Second Avenue Line to Brooklyn, but via the BMT trackage over the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. A connection would allow trains from these bridges to go onto the IND Sixth Avenue Line rather than the Second Avenue Line. Other connections to the Second Avenue Line were to be provided at 57th Street, via a line connecting to the Sixth Avenue Line; two express tracks would be built along that line north of West Fourth Street. The IRT Pelham Line would be switched to the combined IND/BMT division (this plan also includes other connections, which have been built), and connected to the Second Avenue Line. The Second Avenue Line would end just north of that connection, at 149th Street, with transfers to the IRT White Plains Road Line and the elevated IRT Third Avenue Line, the latter of which would be demolished south of 149th Street. Another plan in 1951 mirrored this intention.[30]

In 1949, the New York Board of Transportation accepted delivery of ten new prototype subway cars made of stainless steel from the Budd Company, named by their contract, R11, specifically intended for the Second Avenue Subway. They cost US$100,000 (US$991,189 in 2015 dollars[31]) each; the train became known as the "million dollar train". The cars featured porthole style round windows and a new public address system. Reflecting public health concerns of the day, especially regarding polio, the R11 cars were equipped with electrostatic air filters and ultraviolet lamps in their ventilation systems to kill germs.[22][32]

By 1950, the plans called for a connection from Second Avenue at 76th Street to 34th Avenue in Queens, via a new tunnel under the East River. The city was barely able to raise money for the construction effort, but the onset of the Korean War caused soaring prices for construction materials and saw the beginning of massive inflation.[30]

A 1954 plan added another feeder, an East River tunnel at 76th Street, connecting existing Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trackage (which would be converted for subway use) to the Second Avenue Line towards downtown. This plan has been revitalized as part of the 2005 Transportation Bond Act, which would connect the LIRR trackage to Grand Central Terminal via the 63rd Street Tunnel as part of the East Side Access project.[30]

The southernmost part of the 1947 plan, connecting the two BMT bridges to the IND Sixth Avenue Line, was built in the 1960s and opened in 1967 as the Chrystie Street Connection. Other parts of that plan were carried out, including the connection at 57th Street (moved to 63rd Street) and the abandonment of the IRT Third Avenue Line south of 149th Street, but the rest of the Second Avenue Line was not built. Plans now call for an additional two tracks in the Chrystie Street area for the Second Avenue mainline; current plans have the new tracks under the old ones, while older plans had one track on each side of the Chrystie Street Connection. However, track maps on the MTA's website show that all stations, except for Hanover Square and 125th Street, will have two tracks and one island platform. (72nd Street was conceived as a three-track, two-platform station, as are 125th Street and Hanover Square. However, 72nd Street is being constructed with two tracks and one platform.)[33][34]

1970s–present: Completed segments[edit]

In 1964, Congress passed the Urban Mass Transportation Act, promising federal money to fund mass transit projects in America's cities via the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. In 1967, voters approved a $2.5 billion Transportation Bond Issue, which provided over $600 million for New York City projects, including for a 1968 Program for Action. The Second Avenue project, for a line from 34th Street to the Bronx, was given top priority. The City secured a Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) grant for initial construction, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 27, 1972. Construction began shortly thereafter at Second Avenue and 103rd Street.[35]

However, the city soon experienced its most dire fiscal crisis yet. The stagnant economy of 1975, combined with the massive outflow of city residents to the suburbs, led to a fiscal disaster for the city. Construction of the subway was halted, with only three sections of tunnel having been completed, excluding the Chrystie Street Connection. These sections are between Pell and Canal Street, between 99th and 105th Streets,[36] and between 110th and 120th Streets.[36][37] The section between 99th and 105th is being renovated with tail tracks[38] and will be used for train storage north of the 96th Street station in Phase One of the SAS. The section between 110th and 120th Streets will be used in Phase Two of the project (96th to 125th). The section from Pell to Canal will not be used under the current preferred alternative. Instead, the current proposal calls for the subway to pass under Confucius Plaza, which is adjacent to this segment. Some construction work also took place between 2nd and 9th Streets, though the extent is disputed. Some reports say that only utilities were relocated, while others that it was excavated but filled back in.[37]

In 2007, the MTA reported that the 1970s-era tunnel segments are in pristine condition.[39] A section of tunnel adjacent to the Confucius Plaza, however, was shown to be lightly graffitied in June 2005.[40]

To date, two of the three portions completed in the 1970s (excluding the BMT 63rd Street Line and the Chrystie Street Connection) have no infrastructure or track,[39] while the 99th–105th Streets section had its track installed in winter 2013.[1]


Current development[edit]


With the city's economic and budgetary recovery in the 1990s, there was a revival of efforts to complete construction of the SAS. Rising ridership on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the only subway trunk line east of Central Park, demonstrated the need for the Second Avenue Line, as capacity and safety concerns rose.

The MTA's final environmental impact statement was approved in April 2004; the latest proposal is for a two-track line from 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem, down Second Avenue to Hanover Square in the Financial District. The new subway line will actually carry two services. The full-length Second Avenue line, extending from Harlem to the Financial District, probably will be given the turquoise[41] T as its letter designation. However, it is the other service, a proposed reroute of the Q, which will begin carrying passengers first.

The MTA plan calls for building the Second Avenue Subway in four segments with connections to other subway lines. The first segment (Phase One) is a proposed reroute of the Q, BMT Broadway Line across 63rd Street and north along Second Avenue to the Upper East Side at 96th Street. Phase Two will extend the rerouted Q train to 125th Street. In Phase Three, the new T train will run from 63rd Street to Houston Street. The final phase will extend T train service from Houston Street to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan.[42]

More spacious stations like those on the Washington Metro, quieter trains, and better ventilation allowing for temperatures in the summer 10 degrees cooler than street level are also promised.[43]

New York voters passed a transportation bond issue in November 2005, allowing for dedicated funding allocated for Phase One. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on December 18, 2006, they would allow the MTA to commit up to $693 million in funds to begin construction of the Second Avenue Subway Line and that the federal share of such costs would be reimbursed with FTA transit funds, subject to appropriations and final labor certification.[44] In March 2007, the MTA awarded the first construction contract.[45][46][47] A ceremonial groundbreaking took place in April 2007, in a tunnel segment built in the 1970s at 99th Street.[48]

In June 2008, the MTA, facing cost increases for construction materials and diesel fuel affecting the prices of contracts not yet signed, announced that certain features of the Second Avenue Subway would be simplified to save money. One set of changes, which significantly reduces the footprint of the subway in the vicinity of 72nd Street, is the alteration of the 72nd Street Station from a three-track, two-platform design to a two-track, single island platform design, paired with a simplification of the connection to the BMT Broadway Line's Second Ave extension. Supplemental environmental impact studies covering the changes to for the proposed 72nd Street and 86th Street stations were completed in June 2009.[49][50][51]

Deep bore tunneling methods are being used in construction to avoid the disruptions for road traffic, pedestrians, utilities and local businesses produced by cut-and-cover methods of past generations. Stations will retain cut-and-cover construction.[52]

The construction site extends from 105th Street and Second Avenue to 63rd Street and Third Avenue.[53] Construction began with moving utility pipes, wires, and other infrastructure, which took 14 months, far more than the MTA's anticipated eight months. For boring, a trench was dug from 96th to 93rd Streets. The tunnel boring machine started work in May 2010, beginning at 92nd Street and boring southward to connecting shafts built at 86th and 72nd Streets.[54][55] Tunneling work was completed in September 2011.[56]

First phase construction[edit]

Ceiling of 86th Street station (December 2013)

In March 2007, the MTA awarded a contract for constructing the tunnels between 92nd and 63rd Streets, a launch box for the tunnel boring machine (TBM) at 92nd to 95th Streets, and access shafts at 69th and 72nd Streets. This contract, valued at $337 million, was awarded to a joint venture of Schiavone Construction, Skanska USA Civil and San Francisco-based J.F. Shea Construction.[57]

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the first phase of the Second Avenue subway was held on April 12, 2007.[58] At the time, it was announced that passengers would be able to ride trains on the new line by the end of 2013.[59] Actual construction work began, on the surface of Second Avenue between 91st and 95th Streets, on April 23, 2007.

On May 28, 2009, the MTA awarded a $303.8 million contract to E.E. Cruz and Tully Construction Co., a joint venture and LLC, to construct the 96th Street station box.[60] Work began in July on site clearing and utility relocation necessary to prepare for the installation of slurry walls between 95th and 99th Streets where the station connects to the existing tunnel section built in the 1970s.

In June 2009, the first of three contracts for the 86th Street Station was awarded for the advance utility relocation work and construction of cut and cover shaft areas at 83rd and 86th Streets. This contract provided two vertical starter shafts that will be used by a subsequent contractor to excavate the station cavern in the rock between 83rd and 86th Streets.

On June 5, 2009, an apartment building at 1772 Second Avenue was evacuated by the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) after it was determined that the building was in danger of collapse.[61] Then on June 29, 2009, the DOB evacuated a mixed use building at 1768 Second Avenue/301 East 92nd Street because it too was in danger of collapse.[62] The evacuation of these two buildings delayed the contractor's plan to use controlled blasting to remove bedrock in the southern section of the launch box.[63] Until the blasting permits could be issued, MTA required contractors to use mechanical equipment to remove the bedrock, which is slower than blasting out the rock.[64] As of October 2009, one building had been shored up, and work was in progress on the second; MTA had rescheduled blasting to begin during the week of November 2.[65]

On October 1, 2010, MTA awarded a $431 million contract to SSK Constructors (a joint venture) for the mining of the tunnels connecting the 72nd St station to the existing 63rd Street station, and for the excavation and heavy civil structures of the 72nd St Station. Subsequent contracts will be awarded for the following: excavation of the cavern at 86th Street Station; architectural and mechanical and electrical work at 72nd, 86th and 96th Street Stations; rehabilitation of the 63rd Street Station; and the Systems Contract (track, signals and communications) for the entire Phase 1 area. On January, MTA awarded Judlau Contracting a 40-month, $176,400,000 contract to rebuild and enlarge the Lexington Ave/63rd Street Station.[66]

On May 14, 2010, the Tunnel Boring Machine was started at the Second Avenue Subway launch box at 96th Street. The TBM dug at a rate of approximately 50 feet (15 m) per day; the TBM finished its run at the planned endpoint under 65th Street on February 5, 2011.[67] S3 partially disassembled the TBM and backed it out of the tunnel. It was repositioned in the east starter tunnel to begin boring again.[68] Because the east side of Second Avenue has some soft ground not compatible with the Robbins TBM, ground-freezing was undertaken to prepare the soil for the TBM.[15][69][70] On March 28, 2011, S3, having completed its task of completing the 7,200-foot (2,200 m) west tunnel to 65th Street, began drilling the east tunnel, with the first 200 feet (61 m) being through soil frozen by S3 using calcium chloride fed through a network of pipes.[71] The TBM drilling the east tunnel will negotiate the curve onto 63rd Street and break through the bellmouth at the existing 63rd St subway station. The portion of the west tunnel remaining to be created will be mined using conventional drill-and-blast methods, because the curve S3 construction teams would have to negotiate is too tight for the TBM.

Workers celebrate after the TBM reaches the BMT 63rd Street Line.

On September 22, 2011, the TBM completed its run to the Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street station's bellmouth.[72][73]

On a July 2013 "report card" that indicated the progress of the subway by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, it got a "B".[74]

By the winter of 2013, many of the tracks and signal panels began to arrive at the construction site, to be installed on the line over the next few years.[1] It was reported in November 2013 that one third of the tracks for the line had arrived, for the segments of track between 87th and 105th Streets;[1] the tracks were being stored at 96th Street station.[75]

Construction and planning schedules[edit]

Tracks in the subway tunnel being laid, February 2015

The MTA and its contractors on the project meet on a regular basis with the Manhattan Community Board 8 Second Avenue Subway Task Force and Manhattan Community Board 11 to report on construction progress and to seek input from the community.[76] The MTA maintains a Construction Look Ahead web page that summarizes the planned construction activity for the next three weeks.[77]

The MTA's forecasted opening date for Phase I is December 30, 2016, as of January 2, 2015.[1][78][79] Horodniceanu called earlier estimates lacking "the precision required."[43] On May 2, 2014, it was reported that Phase 1 of the line was 66% complete, and six of the ten construction contracts awarded were already being worked on. The agency was still targeting December 2016 as a completion date, and the project is still within budget at a cost of $4.45 billion,[80][81][82][83][84] while serving approximately 200,000 daily riders. As of April 2015, the first phase is 82% complete.[85]

Estimated completion schedules have provided much fodder for critics. As of 2009, the proposed construction schedule showed the Second Avenue Subway opening for passenger service in 2016.[86] Other recent publications have listed expected construction dates as follows:

  • 2007–16:[87] Phase 1 (96th St. to 63rd St.) State Funding In-Place, Federal Funding Approved.[88] In its 2008 capital improvement budget proposal, the MTA pushed back completion of Phase 1 from 2014 to 2015. In 2009, the MTA pushed it back again to 2016.[89] As of January 2015, the line is still scheduled to open in December 2016.[78][90]
  • Phase 2 (125th St. to 96th St.) $1.5 billion in funding to be proposed in the MTA's 2015–2019 Capital Plan. If approved, money will be used to update the Phase 2 design and the necessary environmental review; construction would most likely not start until 2019 at the earliest.[91][92] However, the Capital Plan is underfunded and the second phase cannot be built without the funds.[93]
  • Phase 3 (63rd St. to Houston St.) No funding commitments.[90]
  • Phase 4 (Houston St. to Hanover Square) No funding commitments.[90]

Concrete testing controversy[edit]

American Standard Testing and Consulting Laboratories, company president Alan Fortich, and five other executives admitted filing false documents on the Second Avenue Subway and "thousands" of New York City construction projects within 10 years. ASTCL had replaced Testwell Inc., another firm indicted for faking concrete tests, in 2008.[94]

Construction methods[edit]

72nd Street station cavern as of January 2012
Tunnel at 64th Street
83rd Street
Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center

Planned construction methods vary depending on the section of the line, due to varying underground conditions. The methods planned for each section are as follows:[95][96]

Streets Construction method Streets Construction method Streets Construction method
Lex–2 Aves Tunnel Boring Machine 101–95 Cut and Cover 43–41 Mined with Cut and Cover
125–123 Mined with Cut and Cover 95–87 Tunnel Boring Machine 41–34 Tunnel Boring Machine
123–120 Tunnel Boring Machine 87–84 Mined with Cut and Cover 34–32 Cut and Cover
120–117 Existing 84–73 Tunnel Boring Machine 32–24 Tunnel Boring Machine
117–114 Cut and Cover 73–71 Mined with Cut and Cover 24–22 Mined with Cut and Cover
114–109 Existing 71–58 Tunnel Boring Machine 22–15 Tunnel Boring Machine
109–106 Cut and Cover 58–56 Cut and Cover 15–13 Cut and Cover
106–101 Existing 56–43 Tunnel Boring Machine 13–Hanover Undecided

A number of methods will be used to tunnel for 13.7 kilometers (8.5 mi) underneath Manhattan, which is densely populated. 90% of the tunneling will be performed by a tunnel boring machine. The rest will be done using the cut and cover method and mined drill and blast, for sections, generally the 16 stations, that average 275 meters (902 ft) in length. The stations at 86th and 72nd Streets will be mined. This will be challenging, given the number of expensive high rise properties in their vicinities. The 96th Street cut-and-cover station will be at about 15 meters (49 ft) deep, making it one of the shallowest stations being built on the line. This is so that the new line can align with the preexisting piece of subway tunnel built in the 1970s between 99th and 105th Streets. Stations at the two mined stations will be between 25.9 and 27.4 meters (85 and 90 ft) deep in rock. The construction method that will be used should ease concerns for the above buildings, because only two shafts will be required for excavation.[97]

In Phase 1, there will be tunneling between East 63rd and 92nd Streets and a 248-by-23-meter-wide (814 by 75 ft) TBM launch box will be built. That will ultimately become part of the 15-meter-deep (49 ft) 96th Street Station. Two access shafts will be constructed for the East 72nd Street Station. Slurry or diaphragm walls, 1.1 meters (3.6 ft) wide and 6.1 meters (20 ft) long and about 35 meters (115 ft) deep, will be built alongside the sections between East 93rd and 95th Streets. Since the rock is shallower between East 91st and 93rd Streets, 1.1-meter-diameter (3.6 ft) secant piles will do the same work at shallower depths.[97]

Earth excavation will be conducted between walls, once they are installed, and a box structure will be built using a bottom-up construction method. Temporary decking will constitute the top of the box, and the decking will both brace the excavation and support the walls and Second Avenue traffic.[97]

The tunnels and stations will be up to about 30 meters (98 ft) below street level. Of the below-ground obstacles, Arup director of construction David Caiden says: "It’s a spaghetti of tunnels, utilities, pipes and cables — I’ve never seen anything like it."[97] Additionally, in later phases, the project must go over, or under, subway lines, Amtrak railway lines, and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel linking Manhattan and Queens.[97]

There are geological anomalies along the way. Manhattan's geology changes along the subway’s length, passing through rock and soft ground, consisting of sands, silts, and clays over Manhattan schist, and there are faults and shear zones as well as fractured rock. Hard-rock Tunnel Boring Machines 6.7 meters (22 ft) in diameter will tunnel during the first phase, progressing at anticipated rate of about 20 meters (66 ft) per day.[97]

The stations on the line are built so that they are more wide open than most other underground subway stations in the system;[98] because of this, they were likened to the stations on the Washington Metro by Dr. Michael Horodniceanu.[99]

Planned route and stations[edit]

The plans for the Second Avenue Subway involve digging 8.5 miles (13.7 km) of new tunnel from 125th Street in Harlem south to Hanover Square, which is located in Manhattan's Financial District.[100][101] Initially, during Phase I, the line will begin at the intersection of Second Avenue and 96th Street, running south to join the BMT Broadway Line via the existing BMT 63rd Street Line. Phase I stations will be located at 96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street.[100][101] Plans call for the Q service to be routed to 96th Street,[101] and then in Phase II to 125th Street and Lexington Avenue.[101] After Phase III, the new[102] T service will operate from 125th Street to Houston Street.[101] After Phase IV opens, T service will run the full length of the line, from 125th Street to Hanover Square.[101]

The proposed stations of the Second Avenue Line are as follows:[100]

Handicapped/disabled access Station Phase Transfers & Notes
Handicapped/disabled access 125th Street 2 4 5 6 <6> trains (IRT Lexington Avenue Line) at Lexington Avenue and 125th Street
M60 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport
connection to Harlem – 125th Street (Metro-North Railroad)
northern terminal station for Q train (Phase 2) and T train (Phase 3)
Provision for expansion to The Bronx
Handicapped/disabled access 116th Street 2
Handicapped/disabled access 106th Street 2
Handicapped/disabled access 96th Street 1 northern terminal station for Q train in Phase 1
Handicapped/disabled access 86th Street 1
Handicapped/disabled access 72nd Street 1
Q train splits to BMT Broadway Line via BMT 63rd Street Line (Phase 1)
T train continues down Second Avenue (Phase 3)
Handicapped/disabled access 55th Street[note 1] 3 E M trains (IND Queens Boulevard Line) at Lexington Avenue – 53rd Street
4 6 <6> trains (IRT Lexington Avenue Line) at 51st Street
Handicapped/disabled access 42nd Street[note 1] 3 7 <7> trains (IRT Flushing Line)
S train (IRT 42nd Street Shuttle)
4 5 6 <6> trains (IRT Lexington Avenue Line) at Grand Central – 42nd Street
connection to Grand Central Terminal (Metro-North Railroad & Long Island Rail Road once East Side Access Project is completed)
Handicapped/disabled access 34th Street 3
Handicapped/disabled access 23rd Street 3
Handicapped/disabled access 14th Street[note 1] 3 L train (BMT Canarsie Line) at Third Avenue
Handicapped/disabled access Houston Street[note 1] 3 F train (IND Sixth Avenue Line) at Second Avenue
southern terminal station for T train (Phase 3)
Handicapped/disabled access Grand Street 4 B D trains (IND Sixth Avenue Line) at Grand Street
Handicapped/disabled access Chatham Square 4 at Worth Street
Handicapped/disabled access Seaport 4 at Fulton Street
Handicapped/disabled access Hanover Square 4 at Old Slip
southern terminal station for T train (Phase 4)
Provision for expansion to Brooklyn

The above stations will serve the Second Avenue main service, terminating at 125th Street and at Hanover Square.[100] In addition to the main service, tentatively dubbed the T, and colored turquoise, a connection is planned to the BMT Broadway Line, utilizing an existing connection via the BMT 63rd Street Line, as part of phase 1.[100] The Q service will most likely be extended northward from 57th Street – Seventh Avenue, curving east under Central Park on the unused portion of the BMT 63rd Street Line.[100] The Q train would stop at Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street with a cross-platform interchange to the IND 63rd Street Line (F train) before merging with the Second Avenue Line at 64th Street.[100] Thus, the residents of Spanish Harlem and the Upper East Side will have direct mass transit service down both Second Avenue and Broadway to the Financial District, and across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn via the Q train.[100][101]

An additional two-track connection is planned between the line toward Lower Manhattan (around 63rd Street) and the IND 63rd Street Line toward Queens; current plans don't call for it to be used by regular service.[100][101] Provisions are also being made for an extension north under Second Avenue past 125th Street to the Bronx, and an extension south to Brooklyn.[100][101]

Planned designation[edit]

The MTA had decided to designate the future, full-length Second Avenue service with the letter T in part because:[103]

  • The letters O and I are too easily confused with the digits 0 and 1, respectively.[104]
  • The letters H and K were used in the relatively recent past to denote services on the IND Eighth Avenue Line, as well as on the BMT Jamaica Line, and thus are not preferred.
  • The letters P, U and Y are too similar to words.[104]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Transfer under evaluation (


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External links[edit]

Route map: Bing