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Trump Is Making Second Avenue Subway Expansion a Priority, Pol Says

By Shaye Weaver | January 26, 2017 3:58pm | Updated on January 27, 2017 5:33pm
 Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said the federal government will place the Second Avenue Subway on an infrastructure priority list.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said the federal government will place the Second Avenue Subway on an infrastructure priority list.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Trump administration might be threatening to cut funds to sanctuary cities like New York, but it's thrown its support behind the Second Avenue Subway's expansion into Harlem and Midtown, according to Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

The last two phases of the Second Avenue Subway line — which would bring service up to Harlem first and then to Midtown and neighborhoods below it all the way down to East 14th Street — has gotten the support of the new president's transition team, who's put the project on a "list of [national] infrastructure building priorities," Maloney said.

The federal government is expected to allocate $14.2 billion towards the next two phases, which could mean progress on the line will be faster than it was during the first phase, Maloney said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Phase 1 of the project cost roughly $4.5 billion.

Information about the list and the project's funding was leaked from the president's transition team, and hasn't been yet been confirmed by the White House, Maloney added.

Although she has not seen the list, she said $137 billion total will be dedicated to the 50 projects on it, including the Second Avenue Subway.

Maloney, who has been pressing Congress and the Trump administration to include the project on the list, spoke directly with the people who worked on creating it and was "repeatedly assured" that Phase 2 and 3 would be part of the plan, she said.

"We're competing with every great project across United States of America," she said. "We need to bring service to the underserved area of East Harlem, bring more economic activity, and relieve the over-congested area below 62nd street."

The news comes in the shadow of Trump's announcement that the government will seek to cut funding to sanctuary cities that refuse to adhere to his immigrant policies. Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to keep New York a sanctuary city, announcing that he would set aside a reserve fund in case Trump cuts federal funding.

When asked by a reporter whether funding for the Second Avenue Subway was in jeopardy considering Trump's decree, Maloney said she doubted it because Trump is a New Yorker.

"I've been told by the transition team and the transportation team that we are on the first cut of $137 billion for an estimated $14 billion," she said. "I will go back to Congress to address that. I'm opposed to any cuts to the City of New York. We give far more money to the federal government than what comes back."

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Federal Transit Administration has already approved funding for the second phase of the Second Avenue line, which will run from 125th to 96th streets. But the project will have to go through two years of environmental review, engineering design and community outreach before the funding will become available.

The MTA has signed two contracts for the environmental review and preliminary engineering and design portions, and a request for proposals has been posted for the community outreach part, Maloney said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on March 30, 2016 that $1 billion has been earmarked for Phase 2 in the new 2016-17 state budget.

The MTA did not respond to questions regarding the timeline and cost of the project, or whether they would be connecting the Second Avenue line to small tunnel sections that were built in East Harlem in the 1970s but were never used.

State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who represents East Harlem and is the chairman of the State Assembly Office of State and Federal Relations, said he was "glad to see that Phase 2 and 3 of the Second Avenue Subway will be a priority project moving forward."

"I will continue to work diligently with my federal partners to ensure all funding commitments are met," he said.