MANHATTAN — Sen. Charles Schumer has saved two key Manhattan infrastructure projects from drastic budget cuts that could have put those plans in jeopardy.
The cuts, proposed by the House of Representatives as part of a 2012 transportation/housing and urban development appropriations bill, would have eliminated nearly 50 percent of funding for the East Side Access project that will dramatically expand the underground rail tunnels at Grand Central Terminal, Schumer’s office said.
The bill also proposed cutting the funding request for the Second Avenue subway project by 21 percent.
Of the $197 million sought for the Second Avenue subway, $186 million was saved.
Of the $215 million requested for the East Side Access project, roughly $203 million will remain earmarked for the expansion.
“While the cuts passed in the House put the project on life support, I am pleased we were able to beat back these cuts and keep the [East Side Access] project moving forward,” Schumer said in a statement. “East Side Access is a transformative infrastructure project that employs thousands of New Yorkers and will shave off commute times for tens of thousands of commuters.”
While the Second Avenue Subway project has been much maligned for the dust and noise it has wreaked on the Upper East Side, the East Side Access project has remained mostly under the radar.
Construction is already underway on the project, which is slated for completion in 2016, but it's going on 140 feet underground.
The project will add eight new station tunnels to Grand Central Terminal. It will also expand the number of tracks from 67 to 75 and create four new platforms.
The purpose behind the massive, multi-year endeavor is to streamline commutes between Manhattan, Long Island and Queens.
"This is nothing short of a signature project in exactly the same way that Grand Central Terminal was back in its day,” project consultant Richard Gottsegen told DNAinfo earlier this month. “When it's finished, the East Side Access is going to be 'the blueprint' for all future transportation construction projects worldwide."
To fill in the remaining funding gaps in both the East Side Access and the Second Avenue subway projects, Schumer said he is looking to secure $2.2 billion in unused railroad funds, which New Jersey forfeited when it rejected a plan for a set of rail tunnels that would run under the Hudson River last year.