NYC welcomes Second Avenue subway

NYC Second Avenue subway

A New York City subway line, first imagined nearly a century ago, is finally rolling. The long-awaited Second Avenue subway opened to the public on Sunday. The multi-billion-dollar project is expected to help hundreds of thousands of daily commuters travel faster across the congested city.

Planning for the Second Avenue subway began back in 1929, but hurdles -- including the Great Depression and the city’s financial crises -- derailed the project.

Three new stations extend the city’s Q line to the Upper East Side. Further work will stretch the Second Avenue subway line straight downtown. MTA

Now that it’s finally open, 200,000 daily riders are expected to use the new line that the MTA says will cut 10 minutes or more out of people’s travel time.

A stretch of New York’s City’s Second Avenue line opened to the public January 1, exciting not just New Yorkers like Fidel Molina (“After so many years of just closures and delays, we get to finally be here!”), but people from across the country. Raphel Sicinski drove more than nine hours from Virginia for the 10-minute ride.

“I’ve always had a love and passion for trains, and this is something I could not miss,” Sicinski told CBS News.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who pushed for the end-of-the-year deadline, was on hand for the grand opening.

Correspondent Tony Dokoupil asked, “Do you think it’s a model for how governments could get projects done that are big and ambitious?”

“Yes, I do,” Cuomo replied. “Government does not know how to build, alright? Bureaucracies don’t build. It’s a different mindset, it’s a different culture. Leave it to the private sector companies, but let government lay out the overall goals.”

Three new stops make up the roughly two-mile extension of the Q line. The final cost? A staggering $4.5 billion.

“Digging a tunnel down a crowded road in Manhattan is not that easy,” Cuomo laughed.

Other cities, including Washington, D.C., and Chicago, are struggling to update their aging transit systems to meet record ridership. President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to invest a trillion dollars in U.S. infrastructure may help. 

But Governor Cuomo says translating that money into shovel-ready projects won’t happen quickly. “Projects can take years to design, do the environmental impact statement, do the community approval process,” he said.

It’s only three station stops so far, but the $4.5 billion extension of the city’s subway system is an eagerly-anticipated addition. CBS News

The American Society of Civil Engineers most recently awarded U.S. infrastructure a D+ rating, and estimates that more than $3.5 trillion are needed for improvement.

“If President Trump is going to advertise a trillion dollars, I hope to get a trillion dollars of the trillion dollars,” Governor Cuomo laughed. “I’m sure every state would compete!”

There were a few reported hiccups on the Q line yesterday, including delayed trains and a malfunctioning elevator. Three more phases will create an eventual 8.5-mile mile subway along Second Avenue. But it’s unclear when any of that is expected to be completed.