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Second Avenue Subway Work Happening 'Around the Clock' to Make Deadline

By Danielle Tcholakian | November 14, 2016 6:22pm
 The MTA cut its budget for the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway system by $1 billion, according to its capital plan.
The MTA cut its budget for the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway system by $1 billion, according to its capital plan.
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MTA Capital Construction/Rehema Trimiew

UPPER EAST SIDE — The contractor finishing testing on the Second Avenue subway line is working double shifts, seven days a week, in an "unprecedented" effort to meet the MTA's December deadline, MTA officials said Monday.

The majority of the work that remains is testing of elevators, escalators, fire safety and communications systems, which independent engineer Kent Haggas said has "historically... proven to be the most painstaking and time-consuming for these projects."

Installation and testing remaining to be done on the escalators and elevators at the 72nd and 86th street stations is posing one of the greater challenges to meeting the MTA's Dec. 31 deadline, according to this month's report by MTA Program Executive Anil Parikh.

In particular, the contractor is working two shifts, seven days a week to complete installation of escalators at 86th Street by Nov. 30. The original target date was June 21 of this year.

Testing on those escalators will be performed "around the clock" to meet the opening date, according to Parikh's report.

"The testing effort in general is unprecedented," Parikh said at the MTA's monthly Capital Program Oversight Committee meeting Monday. "We have full support from both contractors at this stage and New York City Transit required to meet the aggressive testing that we are coming up [against] for the remaining weeks before we open up the stations."

They are also scrambling to finish the fire alarm system, which Parikh said is "the most critical system" in terms of posing a threat to meeting the deadline.

Haggas, the independent engineer tapped by the MTA to oversee the Second Avenue Subway project, said that final tests at the 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue station "should be underway shortly."

Communications and fire alarm testing will continue through the middle of December at the other stations, Haggas said, and crew training has already been completed.

"We feel the trackway, the power, the cars and the controls have been pretty well prove out," Haggas said. "That's a major accomplishment."

Haggas also noted that the contractor at the 86th Street station shortened his schedule by five days in order to complete the final elevator and escalator testing and integration by Dec. 9, and hailed the shorter schedule as "an improvement."

The rate of test completion has improved in general, Haggas said, as workers have "basically hit their marks over the past two weeks."

"That rate needs to be, of course, maintained throughout the final four or five weeks remaining," Haggas added. "The completion of these tests by the middle of December is going to require, as Anil said, an unprecedented concentration of contractor, MTA capital and New York City Transit resources to complete."