UPPER EAST SIDE — The Second Avenue Subway won't be taking passengers in December this year unless the MTA spends another $66 million to speed up the construction process, officials say.
The MTA's Transit and Bus Committee unanimously approved the use of contingency funding to amp up the effort to get it done on schedule and not fall behind like so many have predicted.
If the MTA's full board approves the $66 million on Wednesday, it would allow contractors to work additional and longer shifts to complete work — the installation of escalators, elevators, facility power and electrical distribution rooms — and begin testing them at the new 72nd, 86th and 96th streets stations, according to officials.
If the contractors don't finish by set milestones, which are still being worked out, they won't receive that milestone's payment, officials say.
MTA Capital Construction, the agency which manages the project, presented its pitch for more money on Monday, saying there are too many obstacles in the way of finishing on time without the extra push.
"The opening of the Second Avenue Subway with operations at four separate stations presents logistical challenges, which are unprecedented in modern day New York City Transit operation," the agency's proposal states. "With this enormous challenge in mind and the understanding that there needs to be a massive mobilization of employee crews and equipment over a relatively short period of time, it is financially and operationally crucial that the system be ready as planned."
By taking $66 million of contingency money for the project, $50 million would be left in the back-up fund, which would be enough in case something else were to arise, according to Michael Horodniceanu, the MTACC's president.
The MTA's full board will have the final say with a vote slated for Wednesday's board meeting.
Construction of the $4.5 billion Second Avenue Subway project began in 2007 with the goal of connecting the Q line to the Lexington/63rd Street station, and provide service from East 63rd to East 96th streets along Second Avenue.
Many have doubted the MTA's ability to complete the job by its December deadline, including the MTA's engineering consultant Kent Haggas, who has continually warned the agency about significant schedule risks over the years.