EAST HARLEM — The second phase of the Second Avenue Subway now has the financial backing of the state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that $1 billion has been earmarked for the project in the new 2016-17 state budget.
The funding will restore the $1 billion that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority slashed from its capital budget for the project last November, a move which drew the ire of locals and elected officials like Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said on Thursday that the state's decision to fund phase two, which will extend the subway north from Second Avenue and 96th Street to 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, is a "huge victory for the residents of East Harlem."
“This transit expansion will relieve severe congestion on the Lexington Avenue Line and increase economic opportunity for the 80 percent of my constituents who use public transit every day," he said in a statement.
Cuomo allotted $27 billion to the MTA in total, which is the largest investment ever made in the MTA and will enable the agency to maintain its infrastructure and enhance and expand its system, according to officials.
Of the $1 billion set aside for the Second Avenue Subway, $500 million will be released in 2019 and a promised minimum of $443 million would be injected into the 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan, allowing for increased leveraging of federal funding, according to Rodriguez.
Locals were outraged to learn in November that the MTA planned to cut $1 billion from phase two of the project — a decision that was not publicly discussed before the MTA's vote and was buried in a 237-page proposal, according to the New York Times.
The cuts were made because the MTA cannot begin digging the tunnel until 2019, officials have said.
The MTA said on March 4 that it's already begun advertising Requests for Proposals for the first three contracts, which include design, environmental and community outreach services.
The agency will soon start on a detailed study and environmental reviews to use to plot out every inch of what will get built where, officials said. In addition, it will begin acquiring property for stations and moving utility lines to make way for the tunnel.
The new funding will allow the MTA to submit a revised plan to its board and to the state's Capital Program Review Board, officials said.